In all respects to both Mikes, allow me to add a concluding unscientific
postscript to this discussion. Mr. Gray and Dr. B take an objective
approach to the relative reality of accidental stereo and have discussed
it in the realm of technological possibility. I believe, however, that
there is a subjective aspect to it, that to some extent stereo can be in
the ear of the beholder.
While I was amazed at the results of the "Ride of the Valkyries"
performance on Cala Records CACD0549 I wasn't necessarily wholly on
board with the stereo aspect of it, as the recording did seem out of
phase to me and did not achieve a true sense of "cancel." Although the
perspective of the Mendelssohn performance on Cala Records CACD0551 is
narrow compared to a typical true stereo recording, I felt it was far
more successful than the other one. While I may not have been convinced
at first by the "Ride of the Valkyries," when I played it on my radio
show the phones lit up, with all sorts of people asking about it; I had
questions about it in email as well from listeners. They found the
stereo fully convincing even with that performance, and I guess it
doesn't hurt that the reading itself is a loud barn-burner of the
One object of recording in stereo is to widen the sonic picture from
left to right; really excellent acoustical recordings capture some sense
of back to front, whereas most monophonic recordings made with a
microphone present a front and center perspective only, or a single mix
of several microphones. While not wanting to put words into Mr. Gray's
mouth, he seems to imply that the discontinuation of research into the
paired Columbia masters is no great loss, as the technology itself is
merely a "fantasy." I think it was a terrible decision for Sony/BMG to
walk away from studying the possibilities that their vault has offered
them; I know that 1940 recording of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" well
and would love to have heard it with an expanded sense of the room, even
if it is not "stereo" in the sense that we mean with Blumlein on down --
perhaps a new term is in order, rather than a wholesale rejection of the
idea? I felt that the Stokowski AAYO Mendelssohn Scherzo had a shade
more of a stereo picture than I've heard on old Period LPs which were
stereo recordings, imported from France, but badly overmodulated and
with a very flat, shrill base sound.
On another topic within this thread, Masterworks Heritage made its bow
in 1995, and I'm curious as to how much earlier it would have needed to
emerge to enjoy success. Seems to me that much before 1995 the transfer
technology and even the ability of engineers was not quite to the level
that would have made it a more going concern than it was in '95. I never
had any trouble selling the Bidu Sayao discs or the Mahler First with
Mitropoulos and Minneapolis, but there were other, far more conservative
choices that did stiff and I think that Masterworks Heritage launched so
many titles at first that the market simply wasn't to bear all of them.
Certainly the digital transfers of 1989 had a long way to go before they
reached the standard that is familiar to us now.
David "Uncle Dave" Lewis
Assistant Editor, Classical
Ann Arbor, Michigan
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Andrew Hamilton
Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 5:19 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Sony and Binaural
Quite right. And, as the Wacky-Package on the topic continues:
"...these labelling differences led to a couple of experiments whereby
"Left" and "Right" lacquers of two recordings were painstakingly
synchronised. These experiments proved that for these sessions two
microphones had been used, placed near each other and each leading to
own turntable, with binaural sound being the result when synchronised.
two binaural recordings were made available to the Leopold Stokowski
and both have now been released on CD: Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries on
Cala Records CACD0549 and the 'Scherzo' from Mendelssohn's Midsummer
Dream on Cala Records CACD0551."
P. S., Hi there, Mr. Lewis! Got any Elvis (wine)?
On 1/5/10 11:42 AM, "Mike Gray" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> For "left" / "right" to produce 'binaural' would require two entirely
> independent microphone mixers feeding two separate disc-cutters.
> Anything else is a fantasy.
> Mike Gray
> Dave Lewis wrote:
>> Edward Johnson, in his notes for Cala 551, "Stokowski Beethoven
>> No. 7 and Other First Stereo Releases on CD" states:
>> "In 2004, Anthony Fountain, Classical Archivist at Sony Music Studios
>> New York, found many lacquer masters that Stokowski and the All
>> Youth Orchestra had recorded in Hollywood after their 1941 summer
>> The most significant part of the discovery was that all the
>> were made in duplicate, with each pair of discs labeled "Left" and
>> "Right" respectively. [...] It was an exciting discovery and the
>> Stokowski Society wished to license a complete CD of these AAYO
>> 'binaural' recordings. However, the Sony powers-that-be decided that
>> such a discovery should appear on their own label instead, along with
>> any other records of the period that had been recorded binaurally.
>> included the Stravinsky/New York Philharmonic sets of the early 1940s
>> which the composer conducted his own 'Rite of Spring' and other works
>> [...] However, it all came to nought in 2006 when the senior
>> in charge were dismissed due to the poor sales of both their new and
>> historic releases. The Stokowski/AAYO lacquers were sent off for
>> and the transferring equipment dismantled, so it seems that the
>> opportunity for hearing more of these historic recordings binaurally
>> has, tragically, now gone."
>> Okay - I'm assuming that these notes, published with the final
>> Society release that appeared in November, speak the truth. But just
>> last week I heard a Sony producer protesting on NPR that "people
>> not take it on themselves and reissue classic recordings. First we
>> to locate the original master recording, then we have to find the
>> holder of the performance rights, etc." The NPR commentator added
>> Sony has transferred about 10,000 classic recordings since 1994 or
>> but is doing so in the face of the realization that only minimal
>> financial gain is likely to be made in such endeavor.
>> However, if they have "dismantled" [...] "the transferring equipment"
>> then all that the Sony producer said is mere bluster; one has to
>> that they aren't doing any of that kind of work now, based on what is
>> said in the Stokowski notes. Who is telling the truth?
>> David "Uncle Dave" Lewis
>> Assistant Editor, Classical
>> Rovi Corporation
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