Originally Posted by OJNeg
As for overall positioning, I prefer to listen as if I'm a few rows back. A good recording will give the illusion of there being a distance between the instruments and the listener.
That is a good recording if that is the presentation you are after, but it is a truly subjective judgement to define that as a good recording. I, for instance, favor a recording that puts you among the musicians, as if they were in playing in a circle. Not a common choice, but in the real world (live situations) I have found it most appealing to me. Again, very subjective and no more or less defensible than any other choice.
Having experienced music in such intimate environments, I would have to say that the usual recorded presentation is pandering to a nostalgia for the normal audience experience. The makes it familiar, not inherently superior. You have to realize that when musicians are creating or developing new music, they don't face one way as in a rehearsal. They play for each other. That sounds more intimate, but most people never experience it.
With very large ensembles that take up a lot of real estate, like a modern symphony orchestra, this is not possible or desirable. In the performance space, you are too far from many instruments and too close to a few. That is why the experienced conductor, from his location at the focus more or less, is relied upon to indicate the dynamics. It could also be noticed that the guest soloist, if present, is next to the conductor. There is wisdom in that as well.
The bottom line for me is that recording is a chance to generate a BETTER presentation than we normally encounter. The fourth row standard is old reliable all right, but I like front row center. In the studio anything goes, and it seems silly to me to not go for the experiences that are denied us in the real world by circumstances we need not be constrained by. Remember that those circumstances include playing for more than one person. In the studio we are each deserving of a private performance. Why not take it?
Nice topic, by the way. And yes, that is subjective.
Edited by Clarkmc2 - 6/7/12 at 8:18pm