Not to neglect the fact that 1959 was a pretty good year for recordings,
and 1960, and 1961... And tape was the now-unfashionable medium that
allowed us to finally appreciate that era's brilliant sonic
On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 8:00 PM, Steve Smolian <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Tom, take a listen to one of these recent issues. Turn the volume up
> somewhat. To me, the music just jumps out of the speakers.
> Steve Smolian
> -----Original Message----- From: Tom Fine
> Sent: Friday, June 01, 2012 7:45 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Who needs vinyl?
> One man's opinions ...
> 1. the early CD's "Great Performances of the Century" or whatever the
> series was called, with the
> fake "newspaper front page" artwork, generally sucked.
> 2. Dennis Rooney produced a good series of reissues in the late 90's,
> Masterworks Heritage. I have
> those versions of Szell/Cleveland, whatever was released in the series,
> and it is fantastic.
> 3. I thought much more care was taken and better quality resulted with the
> Bernstein Edition
> reissues of the 90's, vs the earlier reissues.
> 4. A lot of the better second-generation reissues seem to have been
> re-packaged in that dirt-cheap
> "essential" series, which has cheezy artwork and sketchy
> recording/production details but sometimes
> quite good sound. Some of them sound like they are "Great Performances of
> the 20th Century"
> first-generation transfers repackaged, but I might be wrong on that.
> 5. In general, to my ears, Columbia's recordings were of inconsistent
> quality. Sometimes they did
> really well, sometimes not. I tend to hear through their inadequate
> recordings if it's a Szell or a
> great Bernstein performance. If it's a lackluster Bernstein or a so-so
> Ormandy, I can't cotton to
> the poor-sounding recordings. Columbia always used several to many mics,
> so the big problem they
> have is the same all over-mic'd classical recordings have -- unnatural
> ambience, congested and
> un-detailed sound when everyone is playing loud, shifting placement of
> instruments depending on
> their volume levels (ie bleed into a number of mics), and dynamics
> controlled at the mixing board
> rather than by the orchestra. When they got into Andy Kazdan sonic
> productions, that's a different
> way of making a classical record and it sometimes has its benefits, but
> it's definitely a "produced"
> sound vs. a "recorded" sound. There's a difference between a produced
> performance -- all great
> classical albums are "produced" in the sense that they are super-perfect
> and super-real compared to
> all but a few spontaneous performances -- and a produced sound, which
> means that the overall sound
> quality is a production of mixing and adding echo and the like, it's not
> something that can happen
> at all in real-time in a real space. Like I said, sometimes it's very
> interesting and works well, so
> I'm not blanket condemning it. Columbia was definitely very into "produced
> sound" for their
> classical records from the late 60's onward. I discussed this in my
> presentation at the AES in NY
> last year, including details on Columbia's 1975 Grammy Award-winning
> recording of "Daphnis and
> Chloe" that involved 32 microphones and separate mixes for stereo and
> quad. In my opinion, it works
> as a vehicle to get into the music (for instance, the details of every
> voice in the chorus, the
> details of every little nuance of sound from the solo instruments, very
> clear details within
> sections as long as not too many people were playing at the same time),
> but it's definitely a
> produced sound. Some in the audience very much didn't like the Columbia
> approach vs. earlier few-mic
> RCA approaches.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "L. Hunter Kevil" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Friday, June 01, 2012 5:09 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Who needs vinyl?
> Steve and Richard,
>> Can you give us any clues as to how to identify which Sony reissues have
>> been outstandingly remastered and which have not?
>> Hunter Kevil
>> On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 3:09 PM, [Richard A Kaplan] <[log in to unmask]
>> Sony's release of Bernstein's Mahler cycle last year in new masterings
>>> session tapes was revelatory; it shows (a) what they're capable of when
>>> they're willing to use the resources, and (b) how inadequate the huge
>>> bulk of
>>> their CD reissues have (has?) been. I'm with Steve: More!
>>> Rich Kaplan
>>> In a message dated 6/1/2012 3:05:07 P.M. Central Daylight Time,
>>> [log in to unmask] writes:
>>> I recently heard the last 2 movements of the Beethoven 3d Piano Concero
>>> the radio and was amazed. I had no idea who was before the public at
>>> present who played the piece this well. What particularly grabbed me was
>>> rich the piano tone was, how clear the various piiano voices and
>>> parts were and how well the whole thing sounded together.
>>> Imagine my surprise. It was Leon Fleisher, George Szell and the
>>> Orchestra, made in 1959.
>>> After a bit of investigation, I learned it was a new, 2012 24 bit
>>> from Sony. I orderd the box of the 5 Beethoven and two Brahms Concerti
>>> night. When it arrived, it also proved to contain the Brahms Handel
>>> Variations, the op. 39 Waltzes and Mozarrt's 25th Concerto.
>>> I'm playing the 3d now through my office listening set-up. It's far
>>> than the radio disclosed.
>>> Though I've yet to see a review that addresses it, this is clearly (!) a
>>> huge improvement over all previous releases in any format.
>>> I am assuming they've used Capstan as there is no wow or flutter-
>>> to which my my ear is particulary sensitive. The crispness of the sound
>>> indicates corrections to problems caused by slight misphasings, firmly
>>> distinctly positioning the instruments within the orchestra. A slight
>>> made here at about 2700 cycles allows the piano to sound completely
>>> equalized throughout its range with no notes suddenly sticking out. The
>>> occassional buzzy noise I used to think were defects in the recording
>>> now revealed as piano problems. I can't hear any tape hiss at all. The
>>> negative is that the time between movements is often too short and
>>> to the music's pulse.
>>> Oh, yes. Setting aside a few missed notes in a few of the more elaboate
>>> passages, the 3d is a terrific performance. They are well enough known
>>> now not to require a review.
>>> The digital millenium has arrived. More! More!
>>> Steve Smolian