What is Music, without Sound? What is a score without a musician? The will to communicate and perpetuate having been with the human race since the dawn of Time, only since the advent of the gramophone and its alliance with electricity has it become possible to capture and preserve SOUND for posterity. The branding High Fidelity born of the 1950s has given prominence to a new breed of artists, the sound engineer, die tonmeister, l’opérateur du son.
This is where Carl Talbot comes in.
What is a sound engineer? It is the man who translates into sound what you hear in your head. What do you need to be a record producer? First and foremost, a musician with an acute sensitivity to decipher not only a score but to divine the performing artist’s intentions and help her/him deliver a performance as close as possible to their inner vision. For that purpose, Talbot earned a Bachelor Degree of Music in Piano (1990) and then a Master Degree in Sound Recording (1993) both at Montréal McGill University. He afterward moved to New York City to work with Classic Sound Inc., co-founded by Tim Martyn, then a leading record producing firm for among others, BMG and Sony.
Back to Montréal,he joined the Analekta record label in 1999. Carl Talbot has produced nearly a thousand titles including every recording with l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) since 2005.Through his association with Maestro Nagano, Talbot has been invited to work around the world for Decca, Bis, Sony, ECM, Analekta, etc.
As off 2016, Carl Talbot has been appointed leading producer/sound engineer for all new releases with the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa under their conductor Alexander Shelley. The same year, he became Chief Sound Engineer & Producer for the Gotheborg Symphony Orchestra.
Three more feathers in Talbot’s cap in 2017: Tonmeister for the Hamburg Philharmonische, editing and mixing of Jörg Widmann’s Arche, a commission from Nagano for the opening of the Elbphilharmonie released on the ECM label. Since then, Talbot has recorded the HPS in Hamburg and in Budapest on many occasions. Also in 2017, he was asked to be audio consultant engineer for the Metropolitan Opera in New York to optimize the quality of sound in movie theaters, television and radio broadcasts. And last but not least, since 2017, at the suggestion of Tim Martyn, he was invited to succeed him as Director of Audio Operations & Chief Sound Engineer in charge for producing, overseeing recording and post-production of material destined to radio broadcast at the Ozawa Hall at the Tanglewood Music Festival. Henceforth in 2019, he was appointed recording producer for the Richard Strauss project with the Boston Symphony and their music director Andris Nelsons for Deutsche Grammophon.
Not a single concert hall in the world shares the same acoustical proprieties and with Audio Engineering constantly evolving and incessantly pursuing the highest standards of sound reproduction and enhancement, Carl Talbot has achieved the rare feat of maintaining a sound signature recognizable across the hundreds of recordings he has produced. Constantly dealing with high voltage personalities under the utmost scrutiny and pressure, phenomenal ears, deep knowledge and understanding of music are not sufficient assets to navigate those treacherous waters called a recording session ; finesse, diplomacy, psychology, intuition and above all, a profound respect for the task at hand may begin to explain the trust every artist has placed in Carl Talbot.
His productions have received nominations, honors and awards across the globe: Grammy, Juno, Felix, Genie, Gramophone Critics’ choice awards, Diapason d’Or, Echo Klassik and more.
Carl Talbot is currently president/owner of Musicom Productions Inc., a production company devoted to recordings of audiophile quality and integrity in the production of classical music. The studio, choice of recording equipment and team of collaborators and staff are all part of the success Musicom and Carl Talbot have achieved. One of their latest achievements is a giant immersive sound and image project of John Adams Harmonielehre with the OSM and Kent Nagano in a joint collaboration with Fig 55 and SAT in Montreal in a 270 degree images and animations and 360 degree surround sound via 157 loudspeakers.
Finally, Carl Talbot is a guest lecturer at the Banff Center for the Arts and instructor at McGill University Schulich School of Music.
© Georges Nicholson, 2020