It's worth watching the price for the new big Callas set on Amazon. I
bought it yesterday for $168, and I see now that it is back up to $235.
The price seems to pop up and down.
Stay tuned with the Sound Recording Reviews in ARSC Journal regarding this
I have read criticisms by Andrew Rose that some items in the new set are
not on pitch. We'll see.
It seems incredible to me that EMI, followed now by Warner, have never seen
fit to issue one single commercial Callas recording in a hi-def format.
For years this batch of recordings was EMI's classical cash cow, but they
have never really given them the respect that was due. I hope that
situation has been fixed, but hi-def reissues are still called for.
Tom, it would be very exciting to have some of the Mercury three channel
recordings done in hi-def transfers. Unfortunately, the Mercury/Ricordi
Medea is not one of the diva's best recordings, being outclassed by a
number of her live recordings in that great part.
What has been sorely missing up to now are good sounding reissues of the
early Cetra Callas operas, La Gioconda and La traviata, made from original
masters, as opposed to dubbing the records (a la Naxos). Those recordings
ought to be in the big new Warner set since Warner owns Cetra.
Also, one doesn't really need to be a Callas fanatic, Callas queen, or fan
of "The Lisbon Traviata" to love Callas' recordings. Love of music served
up well will suffice. Record buyers have been proving that for decades.
On Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 5:20 PM, Alex McGehee <[log in to unmask]>
> Thanks, Tom. You always shed new light on things. And as to Callas
> fanatics, Callas queens, fans of "The Lisbon Traviata", etc. Yes, there
> really is a reason to go gah, gah for the eight years of her prime. Callas,
> like Rosa Ponselle, was a voice that comes along once in a lifetime if
> we're lucky. Who else today can do chromatic runs like hers? Who else runs
> the gamut of human emotions like her? She had a messy, sad life in many
> ways, but by God could that woman sing.
> -- Alex McGehee
> On Dec 2, 2014, at 5:03 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > I believe this project started under EMI. Andy Walter at Abbey Road did
> all or most of the remastering. Andy is a real ace, I just worked with him
> on new remastering for the upcoming Mercury Living Presence Box Set 3
> (release due in spring 2015).
> > Unfortunately, EMI has always had some sort of a phobia about going back
> to the 3-track first generation master for Callas's Medea, which was
> recorded by Mercury for Ricordi. The 3-tracks were returned to EMI in the
> early 60's, after EMI bought Ricordi. As far as I know, EMI has always used
> the 2-track provided to Ricordi by Mercury, which was a second-generation
> dub of the master 3-track.
> > If the Callas fanatics out there can raise enough ruckus with Warner
> Classics, and shake about $10k loose, I stand ready to see those 3-tracks
> done right. I'll clean all the old splices, replace what's needed, do a
> Plangent Process transfer, and remaster in high resolution. I just did this
> with other 3-tracks, the process works incredibly well. A 10k budget is
> very cheap compared to 1990s halcyon days. And by the way, EMI also got
> back 3-tracks of all of the non-Callas operas Mercury recorded for Ricordi,
> plus all of the Halle/Barbirolli and Halle/Weldon material recorded for
> Pye. EMI has never gone back to the 3-tracks with any of this, so
> everything issued in modern times does not sound nearly as good as it can.
> The main issue with classical back-catalog is money, but with the old EMI I
> always thought it was ego also (those tapes were NOT made here so why would
> we bother with this strange American format). I don't know if this attitude
> moved over to Warner Classics. Warner Music's pop/rock and jazz divisions
> have been very aggressive about remastering back-catalog material in high
> resolution formats, and going back to master tapes quite often.
> > -- Tom Fine
> > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Alex McGehee" <
> [log in to unmask]>
> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
> > Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2014 4:22 PM
> > Subject: [ARSCLIST] Callas Re-issues
> >> Hey gang!
> >> I find it interesting that no one has commented on Warner's remastering
> of Maria Callas's recorded EMI legacy. EMI really milked these recordings
> and frankly each new reissue was worse than the first one done in the early
> 1980s –– many problems well documented by the diva's devotees.
> >> Warner went back to the original masters supervised the new issues with
> an engineering team that new what it was doing (though maybe not in baking
> some of the tapes) and the results truly are revelatory. I think the "Lyric
> and Colortura Arias" recording from 1954 is one of the top ten Desert
> Island discs and high-up even there. Warner has done a tremendous service
> to Callas's great gift. And yes the box weighs a ton and would break a foot
> if dropped. But Warner finally achieved what EMI never managed to do,
> despite the small fortune EMI made off the dramatic soprano of the 20th
> century. I think it's worth shelling out those extra bucks for this. I
> raided a jar with a stash of three years of pocket change. Has anyone else
> managed to hear these remasterings? I'd be interested in your thoughts.
> >> Alex McGehee