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ARSCLIST  December 2008

ARSCLIST December 2008

Subject:

Re: Medtner playing his 3rd Piano Concerto]

From:

Punto <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 27 Dec 2008 09:54:22 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (231 lines)

Michael,

Many big thanks. I did read an earlier posting from that went into the 
situation about how soviet recordings were marketed, but I supposed I 
missed the relevant section and only saw the Melodiya/MK  stuff which I 
DO  understand (or think I understand).  Your extensive elaboration 
pretty much tells me all I could hope to know about the disc. I have no 
doubt at this point that it is the British 1947, 78rpm recording that 
Don Cox wrote about:

The 1947 recording was made on 78s, and judging from the Testament
transfer had poor sound for its period. This CD was made 15 years ago,
and possibly a new transfer from the original parts (if they survive)
might improve on it slightly, but I doubt if there is much more to
extract.

So I would expect a Russian copy, whether made from 78s or from LP,
to be in very poor sound.

Apologies if my requests were unnecessarily redundant, but I'm glad to have all the information I can use in one place now and again thank you, Marcia, Don (and other helpful listers).

Peter Hirsch


Michael Biel wrote:
> 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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