In the fifth of our series where we talk to our mastering engineers, Simon Gibson tells us about some of the mastering projects that have won him awards and a reputation for precision work. Over to Simon:
The Beatles – Album Remasters (2009)
Some forensic restoration work carried out on every song from every album, working alongside my engineer colleagues, Guy Massey and Paul Hicks. A privilege to be involved in such a huge project, in every sense. There are some song introductions that I cannot hear now without flinching at the memory of the hours we spent on them!
Howard Shore - The Hobbit – Parts 2 & 3 (Original Soundtrack albums)
These scores, like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, contain a huge amount of music and the albums reflect that, both being double CDs. The quality of the music and the recorded performances stand out though as some of the best you will hear from the movies. I have had the privilege of working on many other Howard Shore projects since The Hobbit.
Sigur Ros – Heima DVD
Mastering this project in stereo and 5.1 surround sound was a highlight for me. Working alongside three members of the band and their engineer, we spent several days putting it all together. Bearing in mind that all of the music had been recorded live on location in some of Iceland’s most remote landscapes, the results are quite stunning. It’s also quite a good advert for the Icelandic tourist board.
Herbert von Karajan – Recordings with the Berlin Philharmoniker
These recordings date from the 1970s and many were made using 4-track and 8-track, 1-inch analogue tapes. Wolfgang Gulich, the original engineer, came over to London to work with me and we transferred and remastered all of these multi-track tapes together. There were many occasions when Wolfgang just shook his head thinking about the struggles he had with Karajan at the time – an artist who definitely lived up to his ‘difficult’ reputation, but who made some the greatest records ever.
Verdi – Requiem DVD (Live recording in Berlin with Claudio Abbado, 2001)
One of our first 5.1 surround-sound mastering projects at Abbey Road, this is a fantastic performance by one of the great conductors and sounds spectacular in 5.1.
Try the Dies Irae with the volume up to 11.
Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (2003)
This was the newly-recorded 5.1 surround-sound version, made for DVD. I still use part of the recording to demonstrate what music in surround can sound like – guitars literally flying around your head, making you feel dizzy. Oh, and John Cleese popping up towards the end as narrator.
Lyrita – British Composers catalogue remastered to CD
This niche label pioneered recordings from many forgotten British composers, many of the discs recorded by the top Decca engineers of the day. The quality of music and recordings shines through and much of the repertoire was a revelation to me. A particular favourite is Sir Adrian Boult conducting Arnold Bax’s Tone Poems, including a fabulous version of Tintagel which paints a perfect seascape in music.
EMI Classics - Great Cathedral Organs Series
A ground-breaking series of 19 LPs from the 1960s remastered for CD, with my colleague, Andrew Walter. For an organist like me, this was as good as it gets.
Miss Saigon – London Cast Live 25th Anniversary Recording for DVD
One of the most spectacular theatrical shows out there, recorded live in the theatre and mastered in stereo and 5.1 for enjoyment in the home. Although the neighbours might complain when the helicopter arrives!
Thomas Newman - Skyfall (Original Soundtrack Album)
For someone who loves Bond, this was a real treat. The franchise turned a corner with this film and the music also took us in a new direction with Thomas Newman’s brilliant score, recorded and mixed here at Abbey Road by Simon Rhodes. Spectre followed in 2015 and was just as good IMHO.
Read more about Simon here.