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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Max Paley" <[log in to unmask]>
To: "Steve Abrams" <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, September 07, 2008 7:22 AM
Subject: Re: Bastianini's studio RIGOLETTO with Kraus and Scotto-- what 
year?


>
> On Sep 6, 2008, at 8:37 PM, Steve Abrams wrote:
>
>> I have been in touch with Tom Fine, who is the son of Wilma Cozart  and 
>> C. R. Fine.  He has consulted the official sessions book of the  Mercury 
>> Living Presence recordings and confirms my assertion that  Rigoletto was 
>> recorded in 1960 at the Teatro della Pergola in  Florence beginning on 
>> July 2nd.  The full dates were July 2-7 and  9,10.  He does not believe 
>> Max Paley's claim that his mother  contradicted the official sessions 
>> book and claimed the recording  was shifted to a nearby warehouse.  The 
>> recordings were co-produced  with Ricordi and the ownership eventually 
>> reverted to Ricordi.
>>
>
> The article including the interview with Tom's mother was one of a two- 
> part series on Mercury Living Presence recordings in one of the two
> UK publications "Classic Record Collector"  or "International  Classical 
> Record Collector."  The two magazines are very similar in  content and
> form factor.  I can't cite the specific issues because I ran out of  space 
> for them about a year ago.  However, someone else on this group  may have 
> them.  I'm fairly certain it was later than the the Summer  1998 
> "International Opera Collector" issue mentioned by Jon Conrad  that 
> discussed the "Rigoletto" in question.
>
> In the same article, Ms. Cozart had negative commentary on the first  of 
> the series, Cherubini's "Medea" with Maria Callas.  She indicated  that 
> the recording
> team didn't have enough preparation time in that case to set up  properly 
> for a hall new to them (La Scala).  She did, however,  surprise me by 
> commenting
> that she thought EMI had done "a great job" of remastering it, my 
> surprise being that any EMI CD issue I've heard of this recording  sounds 
> like a pallid
> shadow of either the original Mercury discs or the Mercury/Ampex open- 
> reel tape issue.
>
>> The "Notes about the recording" in the original booklet make it  clear 
>> that the recording was made at the Pergola.  Three microphones  were 
>> suspended in the hall and not moved during the recording.  As  usual with 
>> Living Presence sessions, this was a three channel  recording.
>>
>
> The notes in the booklet do make it clear, which is why I particularly 
> noted Ms. Cozart's comment and was surprised by it.  The booklet notes  go 
> into some
> amount of detail of the Mercury truck going down small alleys to an  area 
> under the Pergola on "a sunny day in July, 1960."
>
> By the way, I think Wilma Cozart is a truly great lady who really 
> understands sound like few others.  The recording process used for the 
> Mercury "Living
> Presence" series was outstanding in its integrity and truthfulness of 
> sound.  Those recordings remain unsurpassed.  It might sound simple to 
> use only
> three microphones for a stereo recording, but it's one of the hardest 
> things you can do and you'd be hard pressed to find a recording  engineer 
> today
> with the ear and skill for how to position such a small number of  mikes 
> effectively to capture the full orchestral, choral and vocal  forces 
> involved in an opera
> along with a good capture of the hall in which they were recorded.
>
> Once these microphones were placed, tests were recorded and levels set 
> based on those.   There was no "gain riding" or compression applied,  at 
> least to
> the master tape.  The results are interesting for the sheer realism  and 
> vitality of sound, but also for another reason:  they effectively  debash 
> the notion that
> singers have to be positioned so that they sound a city block away for 
> the recording to reflect opera house reality.  In these recordings,  the 
> voices are
> clear, present and very "there."
>
> I think Ms. Cozart also effectively bebunked the thought that there is 
> anything innately wrong with digital sound reproduction, and not just  DSD 
> or high res,
> but standard 16-bit, 44.1 KHz.  She did this with the series of  reissues 
> of that Living Presence series on CD that was done in the  early 90's. 
> These are
> phenomenal sounding CD's.   To produce these reissues, Cozart had 
> original tube-amplified tape decks fully restored.
>
> Interestingly, Wilma Cozart refused to allow CD reissues of the stereo 
> recordings Mercury had made of the violinist Josef Szigeti.
>
>
>> I think that Paley has also confused the Teatro della Pergola with 
>> another theatre, probably the Communale?, in speaking of the venue  of 
>> the 1953 Serafin Lucia.
>
> I did confuse the two Florence theaters.
>
> And I would be very, very interested to hear if Tom Fine knows what 
> became of the master tapes.  If "ownership" reverted to Ricordi, did  they 
> also get the
> tapes?
>
> Max