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Dear Tom,

In reply...

DDR

On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 7:45 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> 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.
>
*
Actually, that line was called "Great Performances" and was, indeed, done
mostly from Lp cutting masters ("two-tracks") often with little or no
expertise in the A/D transfer, audible splices unfiexed, etc.
*

>
> 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.
>

*THANKS*

>
> 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.
>

*THANKS AGAIN*

>
> 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.
>
*
Essential Classics was something of a grab bag regarding audio quality but
after 1992 it improved when A&R rather than Marketing supervised the studio
work.*



>
> 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.

*
In general, the Columbia master tapes sound better than any Lp release.
Their true quality was much more accurately reflected in the CD reissues
from the early 90s on.*


> 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.


*Fred Plaut did not believe in stereo and Masterworks did not make a
regular stereo master until December, 1956 (the Bernstein MESSIAH). His mic
technique was referred to by many of his colleagues as "multi-mic mono".
Only one Columbia engineer, Harold Chapman ("Chappie"), had a true
understanding of stereophony and how to mic for it, which is why his
recordings possess a true stereo image.*

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

*In truth, Columbia was "into a 'produced sound'" from 1939 on. All
33-1/3rpm lacquer masters produced after that date assumed post-production
in creating the 78rpm masters. EQ, reverb, and level adjustments were all
routine and the practice continued into the Lp era. Its 3-track, 1/2-in
stereo masters had all three tracks in constant motion. We automated
several mixes in doing a/d transfers of them and the sight of the faders
during playback was a sight to see. Andy Kazdin was certainly delighted
with "produced sound". He wanted no part of documentary reality. "We're
making MAGIC here!" was his motto.*



>
>
> ----- 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]
>> >wrote:
>>
>>  Sony's release of Bernstein's Mahler cycle last year in new masterings
>>> from
>>>  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
>>>  on
>>> 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
>>> how
>>> rich the piano tone was, how clear the various piiano voices and
>>>  orchestral
>>> parts were and how well the whole thing sounded  together.
>>>
>>> Imagine my surprise.  It was Leon Fleisher, George Szell  and the
>>> Cleveland
>>> Orchestra, made in 1959.
>>>
>>> After a bit of  investigation, I learned it was a new, 2012 24 bit
>>> ransfer
>>> from Sony. I  orderd the box of the 5 Beethoven and two Brahms Concerti
>>> that
>>> 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
>>> more
>>> 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-
>>> something
>>> to which my my ear is particulary  sensitive.  The crispness of the sound
>>> indicates corrections to  problems caused by slight misphasings, firmly
>>> and
>>> distinctly positioning  the instruments within the orchestra.  A slight
>>> cut
>>> 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
>>> are
>>> now revealed as  piano problems.  I can't hear any tape hiss at all. The
>>> only
>>> negative  is that the time between movements is often too short and
>>> unrelated
>>> 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
>>> by
>>> now not to require a  review.
>>>
>>> The digital millenium has arrived.  More!   More!
>>>
>>> Steve Smolian
>>>
>>>
>>


-- 
Dennis D. Rooney
303 W. 66th Street, 9HE
New York, NY 10023
212.874.9626