Great music connoisseur, he writes for the magazine Classica and the Bachtrack website. He has previously worked for Diapason magazine, Le Monde newspaper, Radio France and France Musique. He is the author of “Les Grands Pianistes du XXe siècle” published in 2012.
Alain, how would you define your profession?
As a music critic on Bachtrack, I am a member of the audience who reports on the concerts he attends. It’s a singular exercise in which one must not leave this place, that of a listener who shares his impressions. As a record reviewer in Classica, the exercise is different because we are talking about music that goes through the recording process, which we can and must listen to and listen to again before writing. As a reviewer, I tell stories.
What role does listening to music play in your life?
It has been at the heart of my profession for more than forty years and has been a pillar of my personal life since childhood. I couldn’t live without music: it’s always running through my head.
“The playback quality on the computer is equal to or even better than of a CD transport.”
How much attention do you pay to sound quality?
Very big. Quality sound, delivered by good equipment, correctly installed in a room with passively worked acoustics and electronically corrected is a sine qua non condition. I could do without a nice car, not an excellent hi-fi system.
How long have you been using AudirvĀna? What did you think when you discovered it?
I have been using this player and library manager for two years now. I found it to be visually elegant, simple to use and even easy to handle. The possibility it gives to adjust its audio outputs to get the best possible quality immediately convinced me. One can hear the slightest sound recording detail, such as sparrows chirping in the distance in a harpsichord record, a cracking chair, a door closing at the far end of the room where a piano recital is being recorded… You can even perceive the changes in sound recording within the same disc. But these details that bring so much life to musical listening – by opening a large window onto the concert hall – are perfectly integrated into the music, which unfolds without any marked constraints or colouring.
How do you rate listening from your computer with AudirvĀna compared with other equipment?
I’m an old computer user to listen to music. I have used several software programs for nearly twenty years, notably Itunes, whose ergonomics are irreproachable for my professional activity, but whose flaw is that it does not allow me to control the sound outputs, without going through complex and tedious tricks. I have a very high-end CD-SACD player that gets dusty. The playback quality on the computer is equal to or even better than that of a CD transport for a much lower price! With the price of my Sony drive, I can buy four powerful computers, backup HDDs and four Audirvāna licences .
Do you talk to people about it?
I talk about it in my record reviews, in my double-page monthly column published by Classica and of course around me. I have converted to dematerialised music – CD rip and streaming – a few of my colleagues and colleagues! They thank me for it and keep the little instructions I wrote for them!
What are your passions outside of music?
Brazil, my second country, its people, its landscapes, its culture, its music, its food and the caipirinha. My family and friends. Gardening, botany, ornithology, science, high-fidelity, reading, chatting all night long around a good table.