Just to be clear, I also think M-H is a great reissue series. I own many titles and wish there had 
been more. The sound quality blows out of the water and then sinks all previous issues of the 
material. I was never a fan of Columbia's timidly-mastered LPs, and really didn't like the first 
round and sometime second round of CDs. Then along came M-H and we finally hear that the problems 
weren't inherent in the recordings. It was ear-opening to say the least, given the very high quality 
of the musical performances. The catalog greatly benefitted from a new producer with different 
hearing perspectives. As a fan of the music, I wish they had called Dennis in 1990!

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dave Burnham" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2015 7:51 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Reiner/Pittsburgh

I bought the entire M.H.series and concur with your observations 100%. What particularly impressed 
me was the sonic quality of the acoustic transfers, those by Ysaye; I would love to be able to 
extract sounds like that from acoustic discs. The other one which is over the top in sound quality 
is the extraordinary transfer of Mahler's 1st Symphony by Mitropoulous. The series was enhanced by 
the superb covers, notes and labels.


Sent from my iPhone

> On Sep 20, 2015, at 6:04 PM, John Haley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I have no facts or figures, just my instincts about what projects were
> really worthwhile, and what projects were not.  The critical reception of
> the Masterworks Heritage series was overwhelming at the time--this series
> was so good that it literally changed expectations of what could be
> done--in fact I have never encountered any comment about it that was not
> couched in superlatives.  I agree with you about Sony's other projects like
> "Great Performances" and the silly Prince Charles Edition of Bernstein's
> recordings, featuring Prince Charles' amateurish paintings on the
> covers--which of course had not the slightest relationship to Bernstein or
> the recordings.  The latter series also featured new ideas about EQ done to
> the recordings themselves that were no improvement.  In contrast, the
> Masterworks Heritage series was really enlightened, plus it offered far
> better sounding new versions of a number of familiar, treasured recordings
> (unlike the Prince Charles series), and everybody knew it.   So those are
> the bases for my assumptions.   As I said, it would be great to see some
> real sales figures, although I am not holding my breath.
> The timing could certainly have been better, as you point out, but you can
> only know that using 20-20 hindsight.
> Best,
> John Haley
>> On Sun, Sep 20, 2015 at 5:30 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> John, on what do you base your assumptions? You don't know how the Sony
>> product sold any better than I do. I know, in general, BMG and Sony
>> historical reissues did not sell as well as Mercury (nor did Philips, Decca
>> or DGG), based on Soundscan data from the 90s that was provided to my
>> mother (this was back when there were retailers and Soundscan was actually
>> tracking CD sales pretty well). I don't know of any mono, disk-based
>> reissue of classical music selling like hotcakes in the CD era. Again, we
>> few thousand who care about these things do not make a viable market for
>> deluxe reissues.
>> Based on conversations with people in the industry at the time, Sony's
>> miscalculation was in undertaking that reissue program so late. If they had
>> done their reissues that way starting in the early 90s, they would have had
>> opportunies to accumulate some sales before the CD market started to
>> collapse. During more than half the time of the Mercury Living Presence
>> reissues, and during most of the RCA Living Stereo CD reissues, Sony was
>> still putting out the "great performances" garbage reissues and stuff like
>> the Prince Charles edition of Bernstein recordings.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2015 4:50 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Reiner/Pittsburgh
>> You may be right, Tom, but wouldn't it be good to see some specific sales
>>> figures to back up those assumptions, in this case.  That isn't going to
>>> happen, of course, but if any historical reissue program sold decently, it
>>> would have been this one.   I would bet that many of the titles did pretty
>>> well, all things considered.  Not top ten hits, but that is never the
>>> expectation for classical releases.  These probably sold far better than
>>> Sony's then current new classical releases--that seems like a pretty safe
>>> assumption.   Having worked in Corporate America for a number of years, I
>>> can attest to the fact that just because they are big doesn't mean they
>>> are
>>> smart.
>>> Best,
>>> John Haley
>>> On Sun, Sep 20, 2015 at 1:43 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>> Not to defend de-funding state of the art remastering projects, but Gelb
>>>> was acting in concert with all of the major labels at that time. The
>>>> classical reissue market tanked at the end of the 90s. It was simple
>>>> economics -- not enough CDs being sold to justify the costs of that kind
>>>> of
>>>> remastering project. The same happened at UMG, with both Mercury and
>>>> Decca.
>>>> The days of doing the kind of work that Dennis and Seth did on old
>>>> classical disk masters are over if the Dennis and Seth of today want to
>>>> put
>>>> food on the table from that work. There simply is not a market for the
>>>> output to recoup the costs. Blame culture at large, changing tastes, etc.
>>>> It is what it is. The few thousand of us who still care aren't a viable
>>>> market.
>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2015 11:51 AM
>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Reiner/Pittsburgh
>>>> I hope Dennis Rooney will respond, and Seth Winner's input would also be
>>>>> very welcome, as he can probably answer exactly what Columbia did, not
>>>>> to
>>>>> mention comment meaningfully on the tape vs. disc issues.   I just had a
>>>>> discussion with both of them about how they worked on these sources,
>>>>> which
>>>>> were often not pristine, and they also sometimes had to resort to metal
>>>>> parts and mothers.  Dennis searched and located what could be found.
>>>>> Keep
>>>>> in mind that what you are hearing on those fantastic Sony Masterworks
>>>>> Heritage CD's were not only dubbed from original best sources by Seth,
>>>>> with
>>>>> Dennis actively producing by his side, but also restored a lot by Seth
>>>>> after that, so what you are hearing is not raw dubs, with audible
>>>>> rumble,
>>>>> groove noise, etc. Those kinds of issues have been addressed.  These CDs
>>>>> still represent state-of-the-art in many respects, and certainly a high
>>>>> water-mark for restoration work inside one of the big companies (this
>>>>> kind
>>>>> of meticulous work is unknown at Sony today).
>>>>> It is a terrible, terrible shame that Sony, at the direction of Peter
>>>>> Gelb
>>>>> (the same guy who is presently destroying the Metropolitan Opera with
>>>>> his
>>>>> hopelessly incompetent management) terminated this great project
>>>>> mid-stream, with so many excellent Columbia projects still slated for
>>>>> release.   We are all the poorer for it.
>>>>> Best,
>>>>> John Haley
>>>>> On Sun, Sep 20, 2015 at 11:04 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Regarding tape vs. disk ...
>>>>>> 1. in the very early days of commercial tape recording in the US, the
>>>>>> electronic distortion going into a tape head and going into a disk
>>>>>> cutterhead were about the same. We don't have any brand-new-like tapes
>>>>>> from
>>>>>> that era to playback now and really test about the magnetic media
>>>>>> being a
>>>>>> lower-distortion carrier than the etched groove. In the case of working
>>>>>> with used/vault-stored music masters from the late 1940's and early
>>>>>> 1950's,
>>>>>> it's entirely possible that an unscratched and well-preserved laquer
>>>>>> disk,
>>>>>> direct-cut from the same source as a tape from that era, will today
>>>>>> sound
>>>>>> better than the tape. The paper-backed and acetate-backed tapes have
>>>>>> well-known physical life-span issues, and many were not stored
>>>>>> optimally
>>>>>> over the years. Furthermore, magnetic tape is susceptible to damage
>>>>>> from
>>>>>> magnetic fields, and lacquer disks are not. Net-net, 60-70 years down
>>>>>> the
>>>>>> line, it's possible and in fact likely that a disk source made from the
>>>>>> same recording buss as a tape source in that time era might sound
>>>>>> better
>>>>>> with proper playback. But, at the time, when the tape was fresh, I
>>>>>> submit
>>>>>> that the playback equipment of the day would greatly favor the tape.
>>>>>> 2. no matter how you cut it, disk recording and playback is compromised
>>>>>> by
>>>>>> the fact that it's a mechanical system very much observant f the laws
>>>>>> of
>>>>>> physics. Lacquer disks are known to have "memory," where the groove
>>>>>> closes
>>>>>> back slightly within the first short time period after cutting. A disk
>>>>>> played back for listening in 1945 sustained damaged right then and
>>>>>> there,
>>>>>> irreparable damage, due to the heavy and non-compliant playback systems
>>>>>> of
>>>>>> the time, they essentially re-etched parts of the groove. There are
>>>>>> ways
>>>>>> to
>>>>>> somewhat mitigate this, tracking in other parts of the groove with a
>>>>>> compliant modern stylus for instance.
>>>>>> 3. where the disk is likely to shine vs. tape of that era is in the
>>>>>> transient attack and time-smear areas. Simply put, excellent
>>>>>> direct-to-disk
>>>>>> recordings of that period did not have the problems that scrape-flutter
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> other mechanical differences in each tape pass cause. However, this can
>>>>>> be
>>>>>> fixed today -- Plangent Process. I do think the combination of
>>>>>> direct-to-disk recording and the groove velocities allowed by 78RPM can
>>>>>> produce the "tactile" sense that disk fans talk about, and tape of that
>>>>>> era
>>>>>> would come up short in comparison -- aside from the mechanical
>>>>>> time-smear
>>>>>> issues, the disks could accomodate greater short-term dynamics that
>>>>>> would
>>>>>> reproduce on a system with adequate speed and power, whereas tape would
>>>>>> saturate and brickwall-limit the dyanmics due to the physics of
>>>>>> electromagnetism.
>>>>>> 4. I can't understand how anyone would prefer rumble and whoosh groove
>>>>>> noise over tape hiss. All recordings of that era were noisy, but tape
>>>>>> was
>>>>>> less so. I submit that a person who can't hear and is not at least
>>>>>> somewhat
>>>>>> annoyed by the rumble has inadequate bass response in their playback
>>>>>> system.
>>>>>> One man's opinions ...
>>>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Carl Pultz" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>>> Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2015 10:11 AM
>>>>>> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Reiner/Pittsburgh
>>>>>> I'd like to send sincere thanks for to Dennis Rooney for his talk and
>>>>>> demonstration of the Reiner Columbia recordings at ARSC NY,
>>>>>>> <>
>>>>>>> &, and to Kim Peach for sharing it. The work Dennis
>>>>>>> and
>>>>>>> Seth
>>>>>>> did twenty years ago is astonishing. It completely passed me by at the
>>>>>>> time.
>>>>>>> Even via MP4, the results are incredible, so I can imagine what the
>>>>>>> transfers must sound like. They certainly break down my
>>>>>>> stereo-centrism.
>>>>>>> Fascinating too is Dennis' comment about the virtue of lacquer discs
>>>>>>> vs.
>>>>>>> tape. I recall a late interview with Kenneth Wilkinson, who said the
>>>>>>> best
>>>>>>> reproduction he'd ever heard was from disc, not from tape.
>>>>>>> How much do we know about the microphone technique Columbia used at
>>>>>>> that
>>>>>>> time? There is a photo of Stravinsky recording with Cleveland ca.
>>>>>>> 1952-55.
>>>>>>> The only mic visible is a RCA 44, well back of the podium. I have to
>>>>>>> go
>>>>>>> back
>>>>>>> and listen to those for evidence of other pickups, but the Reiners
>>>>>>> have
>>>>>>> evidence of wind spotlighting. Is it likely that in the 1940s ribbon
>>>>>>> mics
>>>>>>> would be the primary tools? My experience with ribbons for such use
>>>>>>> suggests
>>>>>>> that their falling high frequency response must have been compensated,
>>>>>>> given
>>>>>>> the strong and very clear high-end on those lacquers. Quite a feat to
>>>>>>> do
>>>>>>> that and maintain low enough noise floor. I guess that would have
>>>>>>> been a
>>>>>>> limiting factor for how many mics could be used, although at a time
>>>>>>> when
>>>>>>> noise was referenced to shellac, a little hiss may not have bothered
>>>>>>> anyone.
>>>>>>> TIA to anyone who can replace my speculations with facts.
>>>>>>> Carl
>>>>>>> Carl Pultz
>>>>>>> Alembic Productions
>>>>>>> Rochester, NY
>>>>>>> <>