16 Jan 2007
Music & Arts has done a good job of the transferring the stereo penultimate concert. My private source for this concert was actually in poorer sound than M&A.; However after some re-EQ and processing I have ended up with a little more open and natural upper end. Their patch of the last three minutes of the third movement is superior amd matches more closely in sound than the one I got from using my Nuova Era mono copy.
My first impression of the penultimate concert Pathetique wasn’t all that favorable, mainly because I read critics say that “he wasn’t all there”. But after a couple of listens, what I discovered was yes, there were a couple of sloppy sections of ensemble, and no the performance was not the clear, clean, driven performance with all the sentimental slop removed that the official recording is either praised or loathed for. It is one of sadness, resignation, and loss but also a show of great power that he and the orchestra must have keenly felt knowing that they were at an end.
19 Nov. 2006
Add corrections to Mortimer Frank’s “The NBC Years”
30 Mar. 2004
Complete update of Cantelli discography.
25 Mar. 2004
The new additions from Guild are all excellent transfers. The 2 December 1945 concert on GHCD 2263 contains opera selections from Bellini’s Norma (Introduction and Druid’s Chorus) and Boito’s Mefistofele (Prologue), and Verdi’s Te Deum. GHCD 2271/2 is the 14 February 1953 all Debussy concert of Iberia, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and La Mer as well as 90 minutes of rehearsal material for La Mer. I might vote for this La Mer as the best of all of his excellent performances. The really indispensable set is the 6, 13 December 1947 GHCD 2275/7 Verdi’s Otello. All of RCA’s transfers of this truly great performance were in various forms of bad sound. This set goes back to a clean, clear, unprocessed well balanced source and is a true revellation.
06 Nov. 2003
The Andante AND3040 1937 Salzburg Die Meistersinger is a superb transfer. The coloration and muddiness from my Melodram LPs are completely removed and the frequency response is surprisingly wide. Although I am familiar with the quality of sounds of orchestral recordings from the 1930s, I have never really ventured into live historic opera recordings. At times, instruments are way over hilighted and at other times, the singers are pointed away from the microphones, but overall, this is a wonderfully satisfying performance although certainly not for those expecting modern opera engineering.
30 Sep. 2003
Two new releases from Guild. GHCD 2248/9 contains the awesome 28 December 1940 Carnegie Hall broadcast performance of the Beethoven Missa Solemnis with Bjoerling, Milanov, Castagna, and Kipnis. This work has been previously released on Music and Arts as CD-259 and now has been remastered again as CD-4259. Personally I find the sound on the original M&A; issue to be slightly more desirable than on Guild. I have not heard the new M&A; release to know whether they have improved on their previous issue. The original M&A; has a little more weight in the low end and lower surface noise but still reasonable not overly filtered highs. Guild has more detailed highs but with more acetate noise and a slight tendency to shrillness. I still prefer this approach to the butchering of the upper end with filters and noise reduction that some companies use. No matter which issue you get, this is a mandatory performance for those interested in exploring Beethoven’s great choral work.
Also included is the 11 March 1940 Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major with Heifetz. This has also been issued on Naxos with an excellent transfer by Mark Obert-Thorn as well as the RCA Gold Seal release Vol. 41. The GS has reverb and some coloration and can not be recommended. The Guild and Naxos are different with Guild weighted toward the upper end and Naxos to the lower.
The second Guild release GHCD2256/7 of American composers are Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with Wild and Goodman and Concerto in F with Levant and pieces by Loeffler, Creston, Gould, and Mignone. The Gershwin pieces have been released several times on minor labels. My other copy is on American Classics, Opus One – Jazz Classics VJC-1034. The Rhapsody is an excellent performance. Generally the Guild has better clarity and dynamics than the VJC but the first piano solo on Guild is at a much lower level than on VJC. The second solo pretty much matches in level so I’m not sure whether there was some gain riding going on with VJC or something wrong with the Guild source. The Concerto is a less compelling performance but still quite good. Guild and VJC have practically identical sound until the last movement, then on the Guild, a few notes in the original fidelity but at a lower level and it switches to a different source with more highs and a weak low end. The other pieces on the set are all good but nothing terribly memorable with the best being a section from Loeffler’s Memories of my childhood.
Both of these issues must be commended for the quality of the booklets that come with them.