Jacob Hale Russell & John Jurgensen in The Wall Street Journal:
Paul Henry Smith, a conductor who studied as a teen under Leonard Bernstein, hopes to pull off an ambitious performance next year: conducting three Beethoven symphonies back-to-back in a live concert. “Doing Beethoven’s symphonies is how you prove your mettle,” he says.
But Mr. Smith’s proof comes with the help of a computerized baton. He will use it to lead an “orchestra” with no musicians — the product of a computer program designed by a former Vienna Philharmonic cellist and comprised of over a million recorded notes played by top musicians. …
Even some experts now find it hard to tell the difference. At the request of a Wall Street Journal reporter, David Liptak, chair of the composition department at the Eastman School of Music, listened to a 30-second passage of a Beethoven symphony created on a computer, as well as three versions recorded by live orchestras. On his first try at identifying the computerized version, Mr. Liptak guessed wrong. He says the difference became clear when he heard a longer clip (listen to the four sample passages).