Those are the Capitol recordings, made before the Command contract. Capitol recorded in the Syria
Mosque. They didn't do badly for early-era stereo. Frank Abbey and Irv Joel did most of the
engineering for Pittsburgh. One really good recording they did early in the stereo era was the Toch
3rd Symphony. I don't know why EMI never reissued it on CD, but the 2-track duped tape is pricey to
say the least.
People sometimes don't associate Capitol and its engineering staff with classical recording, but
they always had at least one foot in the business in the LP era. Steinberg/Pittsburgh and
Stokowski/Houston recorded on the Capitol label. Capitol also did "sound spectacular"
light-classical records in Hollywood with Erich Leinsdorf and Leonard Slatkin.
By the late 60's, Capitol seemed to be acting more as the US agent of EMI, but note that Dick Jones
was still overseeing those sessions even when Peter Andry was over here from England. Carson Taylor
and his recording staff were working out of Capitol Tower, not England. And, Taylor seemed to have
had free reign to record things his way, which was different from how EMI was working in England as
far as I can tell. By the late 60's, I think EMI in England was using a larger number of mics and
I'm not sure how many tracks they were recording to in a typical session. Also, I'm almost positive
they weren't using the 3M Dynatrack system like Taylor was. Taylor typically brought along 4-track
(8-electronics) 3M machines, but he later wrote that many recordings were to 2-track with a couple
of spot mics or room mics doubled to the other tracks so the producer had some leeway about balance
and ambiance when they cut a 2-track Dolby LP master back at the studio. Soloists, of course, got
their own tracks. In the case of the Du Pre recording at Medinah, Taylor used a Neumann coincident
stereo mic in front of Du Pre, likely sent to its own 2 tracks. The orchestra would then have been
mixed to the other 2 tracks. Typical Taylor setup was a stereo mic up high and behind the conductor,
a stereo mic over the middle of the orchestra, and a few spot mics on the sides. All Neumann and AKG
I'm not sure what happened after the early 70's with Capitol and EMI regarding US classical
recording. Carson Taylor retired in the mid-70's and I don't think anyone replaced him engineering
I think the last of the last US labels recording US orchestras was Telarc.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Roderic G Stephens" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, November 05, 2012 3:48 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Medinah Temple
> A series of EMI releases of the Pittsburg/Steinberg recordings are available at
> --- On Mon, 11/5/12, Don Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> From: Don Cox <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Medinah Temple
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Monday, November 5, 2012, 11:59 AM
> On 05/11/2012, Tom Fine wrote:
>> The whole issue with finding a suitable recording venue in Chicago,
>> after Orchestra Hall was ruined, shows that logistics and local
>> politics matter as much or more than acoustics and engineering
>> preferences. It's interesting that, given how acclaimed RCA's Chicago
>> recordings from the 50's and early 60's were, that the orchestra board
>> could be convinced to butcher the acoustic space so much. To some
>> classical music fans, those RCA records were the ultimate examples of
>> the recording art with an American orchestra in an American venue.
>> Mercury had similar problems in Detroit and Minneapolis, as much
>> politics and logistics as acoustical and engineering decisions.
> Likewise Kingsway Hall, the best recording space in London for
> orchestral music. It was demolished in 1984.
>> In Detroit, the Edsel Ford Auditorium was built by and named after the
>> Ford family, which was a primary or the primary sponsor of the Detroit
>> Symphony. From the first time my father set foot in that room, he
>> hated it acoustically. In the mono days, there were tricks that could
>> deployed to make the single-mic technique work, but when stereo
>> recording started, that venue became almost impossible (although there
>> were a few stereo recordings made in the Ford auditorium in the early
>> days of stereo). Old Orchestra Hall, known as the Paradise Theatre in
>> those days, was a better space, but it was literally falling apart and
>> was not in a good part of town. However, many Mercury sessions were
>> done there, leaky roof and all. The room has a nice sound to it,
>> although my father thought it sounded smaller than it was. Then, via
>> several sources, word trickled down about the superb auditorium in
>> Cass Technical High School. It ended up being an almost ideal
>> recording venue. The auditorium was in the middle of the huge
>> building, so it was well isolated. There were good and comfortable
>> control-room facilities in the school. And the sound was superb. It's
>> unfortunate that Cass was discovered rather late in the Mercury
>> relationship with Paul Paray and Detroit. But, all or almost all of
>> the 35mm magnetic-film recordings done in Detroit were done at Cass,
>> to the benefit of the sound quality.
>> In Minneapolis, the Northrop Auditorium was also non-ideal. It turned
>> out to be less ideal for single-mic mono than for stereo. The reason
>> was, it was so cavernous that sound got lost in the huge space. In the
>> mono days, various setups were used, mainly moving the strings out
>> onto the stage apron and, for a couple of sessions, using a tape-delay
>> reverb fed to a big Altec speaker in the rear of the auditorium so as
>> to make the room sound more live. What happened was that the sound
>> dissipated so much that the rear of the omni-directional mic barely
>> caught anything, so the recording sounded too dry. When the technique
>> changed to three spaced omnis, more reverb and room tone was captured,
>> so there was less of a problem. Switching to the Schoeps M201 mic for
>> the single-mic mono also helped a bit because it's more sensitive than
>> a Neumann U-47 and also has a different presence peak that tends to
>> pick up low-level high-frequency information better in that setup.
>> Very late in Mercury's relationship with the Minneapolis Symphony, the
>> auditorium at Edison High School, which I think was out in the
>> suburbs, was used. That room had a better sound, it was "warmer" and
>> more detailed. Like Cass, it's a pity it wasn't "discovered" earlier.
>> A similar search for a good venue took place when Command signed the
>> Pittsburgh Symphony. My father and Enoch Light checked out the
>> orchestra's performance venue, didn't like that. They also didn't like
>> the Syria Mosque, where Capitol had made its Pittsburgh recordings.
>> They found the Soliders and Sailors Hall, which had the unique
>> property of the stage being out into the cavernous space, so the whole
>> room had similar reverberant properties. This worked well for the
>> 6-mic technique that they devised for Command Classics. The Pittsburgh
>> Symphony went on to deliver a very good Beethoven cycle, and a good
>> Brahms cycle, and some other interesting recordings. Alas, Command
>> Classics never sold well, according to later interviews with Enoch
>> Light and others. In the late 60's and early 70's, ABC/MCA kept
>> cheapening the packaging and eventually let Pickwick put out
>> supermarket-counter versions of some records. Later-era ABC re-cuts
>> and pressings are far inferior to original-issues.
> Were these Pittsburgh recordings ever issued on CD ?
> Don Cox
> [log in to unmask]