Legendary pianists Alfred Cortot, Glenn Gould and Art Tatum came together for an extremely rare show earlier this summer, delivering their first live New York City concerts in decades to a select audience. The fact that all three of these piano masters are long deceased meant that they needed some help to accomplish this feat, and they got it from Zenph Studios (www.zenphstudios.com), an ambitious software-based initiative.
John Q. Walker, president of Zenph
The “concert” (held at Yamaha's Artist Relations facility in New York City) was a powerful demonstration of the studio's technology. Using a Yamaha Disklavier Pro to reproduce piano, Zenph's John Q. Walker, president, and Anatoly Larkin, performance analyst, showed the potential of their system. First, an archived solo piano recording by Cortot, a 1926 performance of Chopin's “Prelude,” was played in its original mono format, complete with an extremely nasty signal-to-noise ratio and other artifacts. Next came pristine, live playback of the same performance on the Disklavier Pro, featuring all of the subtleties and nuances of Cortot's original playing from 79 years ago.It was thrilling to hear and see as the keys and pedals moved as if guided by Cortot. It was no less dramatic to experience it when applied to a 1955 recording of Gould's “Bach Goldberg Variations” and a recording of Tatum at a party in 1956.The Zenph process uses software and human analysis to determine the precise keystrokes, pedal movement and timing of a performance, and converts it to high-definition MIDI data for an exact replica of the original performance. Thousands of old recordings made by master pianists can now be re-created on a Disklavier Pro piano in the best possible studio settings, allowing Cortot, Gould, Tatum and many more to be recorded via DSD for SACD or 5.1/7.1 release. The potential applications for instruction and audio/MIDI licensing and implementation appear to be wide-ranging.