Puyana was a fantastic harpsichord player. There has been some "controversy" over the years because
he played a modern instrument that was louder than some antiques and could actually stay in tune
through an entire take. This ran afoul of some of the "ancient music on ancient instruments" crowd
in the 60s, but I think there's less consternation about it today. The rest of the MLP Puyana discs
are in Box Sets 1 and 2. That one we included this time was originally issued on a late-era MLP LP,
but was released on an early-era CD by Philips with no original graphics and a very audible hum.
Andy Walter at Abbey Road did a great job fixing the sound problems with the Philips release. I'm
not a huge fan of solo-instrument recordings, but that Soler music is very interesting and Puyana
played with such skill and verve.
Regarding original liner notes, you are not the only person who has raised this issue, but there has
not been enough interest expressed to justify the kind of expense required to scan, PDF and organize
on a website the original liner notes to everything. I'm certainly for it in theory, as are the
folks at UMG. If money were to appear to pay for the time involved, the scanning could be done. To
do all of the original covers and liner notes, it would be a months-long undertaking and cost
thousands of dollars. Plus there would need to be a permanent commitment of web space and bandwidth,
thus on-going costs. On the new reissues, we've reproduced original liner notes, albeit at
microscopic font sizes. However, the words are readable with a magnifier.
Regarding your comments about the few vocal and spoken recordings in the MLP catalog -- I agree with
you that printed libretto or text should available online. Again, not enough demand to justify cost
of doing it.
Speaking of MLP, anyone in the metro Minneapolis area -- I'm giving a presentation via
teleconference Tuesday evening the 21st (next week), at the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting:
(website includes location and directions)
One other thing regarding MLP and vocal recordings. I've noticed comments at Amazon and elsewhere
along the lines of "why won't they reissue those opera recordings?" To be clear, the recordings
Mercury made for both Ricordi (several operas recorded in Italy, including "Medea" with Maria
Callas) and for Pye in Manchester England (Halle Orchestra/John Barbirolli) were only licensed to
Mercury for the first release. Ownership reverted to EMI, which by then had bought Ricordi and Pye.
The former EMI classical division is now owned by Warner Music. Warner Music and UMG are under a
strict agreement with the EU which bars any sort of cooperation such as including each other's
material in the other's releases. So, the tree to bark up to get the Ricordi and Pye recordings
released is Warner Classics, which is headquartered in France. According to the Mercury tape logs
from the 60's, both 3-track and full-track master tapes were sent to EMI in the 1960s. "Medea" has
been reissued on CD several times, always from a 2-track copy that Ricordi used to cut their LPs.
Some of the Pye recordings have been issed by EMI and also the Barbirolli Society. The source always
appears to be the Pye 2-track LP masters, which seem to have a different stereo perspective from the
MLP releases. I suspect Pye either made an on-the-spot 3-2 mix or only took feeds from the left and
right microphones. If Warner Classics ever got interested in reissuing any of these recordings, I'll
state publicly that I'd be happy to help. It would be great to go back to the first-generation
3-tracks and get the kind of results we've been able to get with Plangent Process and Abbey Road.
Caveat being that the Halle tapes will be old acetate tapes and may be badly deteriorated, depending
on storage conditions and luck of the draw. Ricordi tapes were later, so may or may not be acetate.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Thomas Stern" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2015 3:12 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury Living Presence 3
> Ordered from Amazon France (just over $101), shipped
> from UK. No problems noted.
> A few comments-
> I was not familiar with RAFAEL PUYANA, harpsichordist, but see he recorded
> many albums for Mercury/Philips, his last recordings for SanCtuS. He was
> somewhat controversial in regard to performance practice. Wonder if any
> have any strong opinions of his work ???
> It is wonderful to be able to obtain these Living Presence recordings at
> so incredibly low prices, however I do miss having annotations which were
> part of the original albums, and in the very few vocal performances, some
> sense of the texts (either text and translation or summaries). I understand
> that it might be too expensive to include all this text in the booklets, but
> it could be included as a .pdf file on a disc, or made available online at
> Universal's website.
> Best wishes, Thomas.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Wade Lewis
> Sent: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 12:32 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury Living Presence 3
> well My copy of vol 3 arrived, sent from Amazon German location though I
> purchased it from Amazon Italy. All the discs appear to be correct so that
> is one good thing. My thanks go to Tom Fine for his participation in this
> What I am sorry about is that from the documentation, this is the last
> volume that will be issued. This means there is a significant group of
> Mercury recordings that will never be available in high quality CD
> transfers. That includes most of the mono orchestral issues (especially the
> remaining Kubeliks, the Dorati Sleeping Beauty and various Hansons), ALL the
> chamber music monos and a still sizeable number of Stereo items, whether
> missing individual tracks or whole LPs. This makes me sad as, having spent
> a large block of time relistening to the existing CD issues has reinforced
> my impression of the entire catalog as a major statement of the quality of
> recordings made by Mercury in the 1950s-60s.
> I am happy that I have almost all the monos in my LP collection but now it
> seems that i will be running around trying to find good condition Stereo LPs
> once I determine which ones are outstanding as unreleased CD items.
> My OTHER observation is the wonderful quality of the graphics of the
> original LP covers. The boldness of the designs certainly matched the
> statements made by the recordings themselves.
> Finally, looking at the recording dates, it is interesting to see that the
> Capriccio italien on the Stereo 1812/Wellington's Victory CD in vol 1 is the
> same recording that appears in Vol 3 along with the mono 1812. I had always
> wondered if they were the same or different recordings.