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