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ARSCLIST  December 2008

ARSCLIST December 2008

Subject:

Re: Medtner playing his 3rd Piano Concerto]

From:

Michael Biel <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 27 Dec 2008 03:01:26 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (208 lines)

It seems like the ARSCList took a Christmas vacation!!  So lets start up 
again.

Punto wrote:
> I do want to follow up on this since I initiated the discussion by 
> trying to decipher and decode a record in hand. From the start, I was 
> able to transliterate enough to be certain that Medtner was the 
> composer and soloist on the disc and I had tracked down the Testament 
> CD of the Medtner/Philharmonia/Dobrowen recording. I could not read 
> enough of the rest of the text to conclude that this was definitely 
> the 1947 Mahrajah of Mysore sponsored recording and not some other one 
> since the recording company and all other information beyond composer, 
> work and performer, was undecipherable to me. I did hear from Marcia 
> Segal who very helpfully deciphered a scan I sent them

Several days ago I had already given the translations of the trademarks 
on the label, but I'll go into more detail to explain a few of the words 
and then go into the history of the factory
.
If the rest of  you want to follow along, here is a scan from the web of 
this label format of Peter's record  --

http://www.collectable-records.ru/labels/RUSSIA/Moscow/vsg/2.htm


The black lettering at the top is translated to Ministry of Culture 
USSR.  It reads Menesterstvo Kulturi SSSR (cyrillic lettering looking 
like CCCP is really SSSR which translates in English as USSR.) 


The trademark lettering is BCG but would be pronounced VSG.  What looks 
like a B is the cyrillic V.  What looks like a C is the cyrillic S. This 
writing is in script, so the final letter looks to us like a T but it is 
a script G.  (Very few dictionaries show the script alphabet chart -- 
you have to find a children's schoolbook or schoolroom wall chart which 
is what I have found to guide me.  Another real challenge is the script 
T which looks like an M !!!!!  Script lettering on album covers, 
posters, advertisements, trademarks, etc. are a real challenge even if 
you think you can read printed cyrillic.)   These initials stand for 
what is in the next line in the black banner.

The words in the banner are  Vsyesayuznaya Studya Gramzapisi   This 
translates into All-Union Studio Phonorecords.    All-union means it is 
for the entire Soviet Union rather than one region or republic.   The 
middle word is NOT student which includes the letter n in the Russian 
word just like in the English word.  (There are other words close to 
these in the dictionary that start studye . . . that mean cold, 
refrigerate, brawn, or jelly depending on what other letters follow to 
make up the word.)  Gram is the part of the trademark word Gramophone 
which means writing (the whole word means writing of sound) and gram 
also has some forms like that in Russian as well, but it is used here 
much like it is used in the Russian word "gramplastinki" which means 
"gramophone plate" or disc record.   Zapisi means document, record, 
inscription.   Gramzapisi is really a coined word, just like Gramophone. 

The curved line at the bottom is Dolgoigrayushaya 33 1/3 which means 
Long Playing 33 1/3.  At the beginning some LPs were at 78.


VSG was the original name of the factory that was built inside the city 
limits of Moscow in the early 60s, and later in the Melodiya days became 
noted on the labels in Russian as the Moscow Experimental Factory 
Gramzapis.  When the USSR was broken up, so was Melodiya.  In Moscow it 
was a very complicated situation that was only understandable once the 
President of Melodiya explained it to me.  This record factory became 
corporately independent  and used the trade name Gramzapis.  There are 
some records in the 1990s with this trademark.  The executive office 
building is the only part of the company which legally retained the use 
of the trademark Melodiya, and was able to get financing as a joint 
venture with German BMG Bertlesman.  The recording studio right next 
door to the executive office building was supposed to be part of that 
company, but the workers in that building took it over and made their 
own joint venture with another company and became known as Russian 
Disc.  I have a couple of examples of records with a Russian Disc label 
but a Melodiya trademark on the sleeve, and the President explained that 
these probably left the factory at the time when the eventual outcome of 
the split was uncertain.  But he explained unhappily that they are two 
separate companies.  Here are a few of the many formats of Russian Disc 
records. 

http://www.collectable-records.ru/labels/RUSSIA/Moscow/russian_disc/1.htm
http://www.collectable-records.ru/labels/RUSSIA/Moscow/russian_disc/9.htm
http://www.collectable-records.ru/labels/RUSSIA/Moscow/russian_disc/5.htm


BUT all of the separate companies were still tied together because of 
the manufacturing facilities.  ALL raw vinyl for every plant in the 
entire country came from the Aprelvka factory which is about 30 miles SW 
of Moscow.  Their joint-venture name was Aprelvka Sound, and you will 
see records from the 90s with that trademark.  ALL the metal parts for 
masters and stampers for the entire country were made in Moscow, 
possibly in the recording studio.   So there  had to be SOME cooperation 
among all of the parts of the former Melodiya.  The ownership of the 
masters, the metal parts, etc, were major contractual problems because 
if a factory had metal parts they would use them even if the Moscow 
office building company thought they had exclusive rights to them.  And 
the master tapes were next door in the Russian Disc recording studio, 
and they used them even thought the office building company thought it 
improper.   It is all very confusing.


The Riga plant was bought by one of the musicians of the rock group Time 
Machine and became known as RiTonis/Sintez.

http://www.collectable-records.ru/labels/RUSSIA/RIGA/26.htm
http://www.collectable-records.ru/labels/RUSSIA/RIGA/20.htm

  Leningrad became a major source of Russian Beatles records with the 
trademark AnTrop (which can't be read properly by non-Russians, but 
stands for Andrey Tropillo, a major rock manager),

http://www.collectable-records.ru/labels/RUSSIA/NO%20LABEL/4.htm

Leningrad pressed other labels like Gala, and  SNC for rock musician 
Stas Namin. 


http://www.collectable-records.ru/labels/RUSSIA/PETERBOURG/gala/1.htm
http://www.collectable-records.ru/labels/RUSSIA/PETERBOURG/snc/1.htm

The Tiblisi plant became the source of pirated rock LPs with no visible 
trademark. 


The VSG plant, which by then was known as the Moscow Experimental 
Factory Gramzapis, was in the midst of being converted to all-CD 
manufacturing before the split and was able to start pressing CDs with 
the Melodiya trademark.  Those discs have a blue swirl on the label.  
When the split-off came, the factory took the trademark Gramzapis, and 
you will find CDs with that trademark.  Within a year the Russian Mafia 
infiltrated that factory.  I interviewed the man who was the manager of 
the plant during the LP era and oversaw the conversion to CDs.  When I 
told him I had bought a Rolling Stones CD in Kentucky with a Melodiya 
trademark, he became visibly sad.  He told me he tried to keep the 
factory honest, but Andrey Tropillo came to him with a forged license 
contract and had the CDs pressed.  Then when he realized that there was 
no way to fight the mafia, he and his assistant quit, and the mafia took 
over the plant.   At that  point in 1995 the two of them were running a 
small company which made childrens cassettes.  It was a VERY SMALL 
company.  Their entire manufacturing plant was a four-well cassette 
duplicator in the room next to his office.  He had to be VERY small to 
not interest the mafia.    There still was a factory retail store in 
Gramzapis in 1995, and when the counter girls found out I was an 
American collector they gave me a copy of each LP they still had in 
stock which was about ten records.  I also bought a few CDs.  Alexander 
would not let me take any pictures there -- "It is not safe, Michael.  
Very criminal place."  I got videotape of the factory only when were 
were across a very wide and busy street.   All the time he was worried 
and fidgeting and looking all around and making us both look very 
suspicious!!!  (We had almost been gunned down leaving another record 
company when photographing near a car with some suspicious characters, 
so he was right to be nervous.) 

If you will send me the label scans I can explain the other numbers and 
letters on the label for the recording itself.  

Mike Biel   [log in to unmask] 
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++




Punto wrote:
> I do want to follow up on this since I initiated the discussion by 
> trying to decipher and decode a record in hand. From the start, I was 
> able to transliterate enough to be certain that Medtner was the 
> composer and soloist on the disc and I had tracked down the Testament 
> CD of the Medtner/Philharmonia/Dobrowen recording. I could not read 
> enough of the rest of the text to conclude that this was definitely 
> the 1947 Mahrajah of Mysore sponsored recording and not some other one 
> since the recording company and all other information beyond composer, 
> work and performer, was undecipherable to me. I did hear from Marcia 
> Segal who very helpfully deciphered a scan I sent them and I now know 
> that it is just a dismally poor pressing of the Philharmonia Abbey 
> Road LP. I have not asked for permission to quote, so I hope she won't 
> mind my sharing a portion of the correspondence in hope that someone 
> else is familiar with the issuing label and might have more 
> information on it. Mike Biel and Steve Smolian have ventured a fair 
> amount on clarification on the Melodiya/MK situation, but this does 
> not appear have anything to do with them, but rather something close 
> to what is below.
>
>> Very rough transliteration/phonetic rendering, enough that you may be 
>> able to search via Google:
>>
>> From top to bottom:
>>
>> 1) The line at the top ending with CCCP
>>
>> Ministyerstvo Cultyur CCCP (possibly)
>> Cultural Ministry of the Soviet Union
>>
> *>2) BCG and in the black ribbon beneaeth it
>>
>> Vsyesoyuznaya Studiya Gramzapisi *(possibly)
>> the second word means "study"
>
No it doesn't.  It means "Studio."  You are confused because of the 
closeness of this word to styudent
> Anyone have more information or want a crack at the scan that I have 
> made?
>
> Thanks to Marcia and anyone with supplemental info.
>
> Peter Hirsch
>
>

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