The first copies of Welte rolls onto CDs were made in 2012. Reconstructing a realistic reproduction of the sound of Welte-Mignon was the utmost priority. These recordings were made using a Welte push-up player (vorsetzer), built in 1911, with the serial number 591.
After I sent Prof. Dr. h.c. Paul Badura-Skoda the first results of my Welte-Mignon recordings, a lively correspondence developed. In September 2012, he wrote:
...even though Welte is repeatedly recorded on LP and CD, Klaus Fischer's recordings on your Ibach sound better, more poetic – in short – more authentic".
This statement by Prof. Dr. h.c. Paul Badura-Skoda, pupil of Edwin Fischer and contemporary of many Welte pianists, was an acknowledgment of my efforts over many years. This statement significantly prompted me to resolutely continue with the project and gave it the name:
Excerpt from the letters from Dr h.c. Paul Badura-Skoda:
Following the initial recordings in 2012 I could not have any idea that it would take six years to achieve today's result.
The original requirements for the recordings were not significantly modified. And yet, to my amazement, the results of the recordings of Welte on CD were very different. One of the reasons "the interaction between piano and vorsetzer" was not ideal. At the same time, I was able to purchase another Welte vorsetzer in the meantime, which was built in 1927, with the serial number 1083. I knew that the condition and the restoration work carried out in the 1980s were largely equivalent to the original. 1
To reproduce a realistic impression of sound of the Welte-Mignon, all recordings (rolls) must be recorded under the same conditions and settings. The available text roll and the settings undertaken by Welte were the basis for the exact fine-turning of the recording device. (Welte's original instructions attached)
To determine the wind consumption (vacuum) in the Welte push-up player (vorsetzer), rolls with a high consumption, such as those played with with four hands (CD 9) and "the unplayable" (CD 4) were used. The "piano and forte" setting for the push-up player (vorsetzer) was determined with the help of the Welte test roll and checked once again with several recordings. That was the reference and no further changes were made during the recordings.
That was also the requirement for the sound technician for the recordings. After the recording level was adjusted, no further changes were made to this during the recording sessions.
Were my efforts worth it? That is something the experts will have to judge.
I have also found the answers to my questions.
"WELTE-MIGNON" with its inventors Karl Bockisch and Edwin Welte have created something quite special in this area, which continues to fascinate us even after 100 years:
"A machine that is apparently endowed with a soul" 2
- All recordings with this push-up player (vorsetzer), except CD 9 no. 12 (Pauer) and CD 10 no. 9-14 (Rudin)
- Magazine for instrument construction 1905 / Klaus Fischer 2018