Olga Peretyatko & Jakob Händel

Why Olga Peretyatko and Jakob Händel are the perfect team for the best sound

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For his latest CD recording, Jakob Händel exclusively used microphones from Sennheiser and Neumann. The opera singer involved, Olga Peretyatko, is excited about the result. As was a jury of experts: The CD received an Echo Klassik prize. In an interview, they explain how the recording process went.

  • Author: Simon E. Fuchs
  • Photos: Moodmacher
  • Video: Moodmacher

On a Sunday morning in early October, Olga Peretyatko and Jakob Händel are standing in the atrium of the Academy of Arts located in the heart of Berlin. As proven by the CD they recorded together in Italy, they are an excellent team.

„The technology was perfect. We always found the sound that we both liked.“

The recording of the CD “Olga Peretyatko and the Teatro e Coro Comunale di Bologna” marked the first time you had worked together. Was it a special project for the two of you? [OP]: We had 10 days to record the CD. That's a significant amount of time. For a singer, it’s great when you can rest your voice in between. We recorded five hours per day and then had a day off. The rhythm wasn’t just important for me, but also for the conductor, Alberto Zedda, who is highly gifted. After all, he's 88 years old.

[JH]: Bologna was a fascinating production. At first I thought: What kind of a person is this? Ten days - that's an unbelievable amount of latitude. But this extended amount of time together is extremely important. It helps everyone understand where the journey is headed. When recording, I follow the maxim: ‘We'll fix it in the mix.’ But I need a clear sense of what I’m trying to accomplish.

[OP]: Jakob and I are perfectionists. It’s a miracle that we are both happy with the result of the recordings. Just like me, Jakob is always looking for an optimal solution. He is only satisfied with the best sound and the best edit. Everything needs to be right. Outside of our work, we also had time to have fun. There's a reason why Bologna is known as Italy’s ‘gourmet capital.

[JH]: It was great that Olga was staying close to the theater. I could listen to the recordings with her step by step. That helped when it came to discussing and agreeing on things. We never had any problems understanding one another. The technology was perfect. We always found the sound that we both liked.

Olga Peretyatko & Jakob Händel
„Jakob and I are perfectionists. It’s a miracle that we are both happy with the result of the recordings.“

The recordings on the CD were made exclusively with microphones by Sennheiser and Neumann. Is the selection of equipment important to you as an opera singer, Ms. Peretyatko? [OP]: Before we made the recordings, I didn’t know anything about technology. I focus on my voice; it’s Jakob’s job to capture it well. But when I heard the recordings, I asked Jakob about the models and features of the microphones he used. That’s how excited I was about the quality. The most important thing was that they perfectly captured my voice. These microphones performed for me.

Mr. Händel, why did you choose microphones by Sennheiser and Neumann for the recordings? [JH]: When recording, there’s nothing I less want to worry about than my equipment. That allows me to focus completely on creative collaboration. I'm perfectly able to do that with microphones by Sennheiser and Neumann. The performers are pleased that the sound perfectly reflects their voices and interpretations. That engenders confidence and grants the freedom needed to achieve peak performance.

Ms. Peretyatko, you won the Echo Klassik prize for the CD “Olga Peretyatko und das Teatro e Coro Comunale di Bologna.” What does a prize like this mean to you? [OP]: The award is important to me. After all, it’s my first Echo Klassik prize, for just my third CD. I’m very happy with the recordings. They are exactly the pieces that I always wanted to record, with the orchestra with which I always wanted to perform. In my view, the CD turned out perfectly. Maybe the jury saw things similarly and gave us the prize for that reason.

Olga Peretyatko

How important are prizes for you, Mr. Händel? [JH]: On the one hand, the Echo Klassik prize is always a great recognition. I'm proud of it. It's the fifth one I have won. On the other hand, awards aren't the goal of my work. There are productions that are important to me personally, even if I know they will never win a Grammy or an Echo. But they still enrich my life and give my work meaning.

Ms. Peretyatko, how do you see the future of music? [OP]: Above all, I hope that music will continue to excite people’s emotions - just as is the case today and as it was 200 years ago. Whether live or recorded. That’s the most important thing. Technically everything must be perfect and the musicians need to be well prepared, but in the end, what’s important for me is the emotion. Listeners should leave the theater happy in the future as well.

„3D audio will play an important role in the future.“

And you, Mr. Händel? [JH]: When I think of the future of music I think first about my own work, of course. But I've stopped being afraid that I might someday end up unemployed. The recording of music is too strongly embedded in our culture. For me, the future also always means research. The subject of ‘virtual reality’ is becoming increasingly important. In the future, 3-D audio will play an important role.

After the interview, Jakob Händel sets up a mobile studio in one of the back rooms at the Academy of Arts. Together, he and Olga listen to previously unreleased recordings of hers. Händel takes a light bulb out of his case. “Just like every studio used to have a lava lamp, I have this here,” he says. He makes it hover over a wooden board. “Unbelievable,” says Olga Peretyatko, who moves her fingers between the bulb and the board. Jakob Händel likes to surprise people with technology - whether it’s a floating lamp or the perfect microphone for optimal classical music recordings.