Author Topic: Thirty three and a third.  (Read 16492 times)

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Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2018, 02:05:37 PM »
This may have been tried in the past and sunk without trace.

Is there any enthusiasm with forum members for a thread on not only the LP record but the music of the era they were produced? A platform to express all views, even if you cannot stand them (an understandable view).

Great idea Irons!  And thank you very much for sharing your Supraphon knowledge and comments tool 

PD

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2018, 02:07:21 PM »
I have kept some of my most treasured vinyls (Boult's EMI Vaughan Williams symphonies box for example) and occasionally buy an LP which meant a lot to me (Karajan's DGG recording of Honegger's 'Liturgique' Symphony for example). However, I need a new turntable as my daughter purloined my old one.

I'm guessing that you're (secretly?) proud of her?   ;)

PD

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2018, 02:07:42 AM »
I'm guessing that you're (secretly?) proud of her?   ;)

PD

Yes, I am although not necessarily for removing my turntable.
 8)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Irons

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2018, 02:30:09 AM »
Mercury has a special place in my heart. My father had the famous Mercury Living Presence recording of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture by Dorati (the stereo one). The LP had a peculiar sound that in not quite duplicated in the CD release. Probably the characteristics of the LP cutter and related electronics. But of course the CD brings more detail, and was prepared by the original record producer.

For years I only knew what was written in the CD notes about the production technique, three omni directional microphones suspended over the orchestra, fed directly into a 3 channel tape deck. No modification of the recording rig or tinkering with the volume settings in the course of a performance. But in those days the dynamic range of the LP, and of the tape deck, was not sufficient to capture the dynamic range of an orchestra. Other labels, such as Decca, resorted to gain-riding. I recently came across an article by Richard Fine's son (I forget where) in which he describes more of the Mercury way. Apparently they worked with the conductor to create a performance that would conform the the limitations of the recording. If there was a quiet passage they would take care not to make it so quiet that it would be inaudible on the LP. They way they could get the recording on tape without engineering interference. You can say this is an interference with the conductor's art, but it seems more honest to me and I prefer it to the engineering solution of adjusting the recording volume to get the signal that they need.

So maybe I've come up with something for your thread after all, and no vinyl was harmed in the creation of this post. :)

All your comments are gratefully received. Hopefully we vinyl-heads don't come over as a precious lot. Funnily enough it was Mercury that weaned me off CD and back to vinyl, but that is another story.

I read your post with interest and knowing that all Mercury LPs have recording details on back cover I pulled one at random. I quote -
The present recording was made on December 21st 1957 in the University of Minnesota's Northrop Memorial Auditorium. Mercury's classical staff and special recording truck were sent to Minneapolis for the sessions. The stage of three Omni-directional microphones of the highest sensitivity were suspended at the aural focal points of the hall, the points at which all orchestral choirs were perfectly balanced, instrumental timbres accurately reproduced, clarity of inner voices effectively projected, and maximum 'presence' obtained. After a level check was conducted, control of dynamics and nuance was strictly in the hands of the conductor; no monitoring or compression of any kind was done during the session or at any step in the processing from tape to disc ............ 
And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Offline Irons

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2018, 06:40:07 AM »
I read recently where a music critic made the comment that modern chamber recordings are invariably made with excessive reverberation. This struck a chord as I often read that older recordings are dry and boxy. I agree that a dry acoustic for orchestral recordings is not a good thing but for chamber, I do not mind at all, in some cases I prefer it.

The label Lyrita started out with the owner, Richard Itter, making piano and duo recordings in his living room with a simple single mike mono setup. They are dry, similar as it would sound if the artists were actually performing in my listening room. The ear does adjust and it could be argued this is a more realistic sound picture in a "chamber" setting.

And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2018, 07:28:05 AM »

Offline Irons

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #26 on: November 27, 2018, 08:55:49 AM »
Here's a nice write-up of Mercury

https://www.stereophile.com/content/fine-art-mercury-living-presence-recordings

I was not aware there was a son when Wilma Cozart-Fine passed away. I thought eventually the rich Mercury legacy would follow. It is pleasing to learn that Tom Fine will not allow that to happen. Thanks for link.
And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Offline david johnson

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #27 on: November 28, 2018, 01:20:51 AM »
The lp brands I enjoyed back then (and now, occasionally) were London, Angel, DGG, some Mercury.

Offline Irons

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #28 on: November 28, 2018, 07:54:11 AM »
The lp brands I enjoyed back then (and now, occasionally) were London, Angel, DGG, some Mercury.

I'm guessing you are based in the US. London/Decca; are they the same quality (both pressed at the Decca factory at New Malden) argument has been going on for decades. Pretty obvious to me they are. American collectors are very critical of Angel, the US arm of EMI. I have not listened to an Angel pressing so cannot comment. In the 1990's thanks to TAS there was a massive surge of interest in Mercury "Living Presence" and RCA "Living Stereo" I got caught up in this myself. Not only US, but UK too,  Reiner, Dorati and other conductors on their roster were superstars. After the death of Harry Pearson, interest waned. I still retain a great affection for both labels.
And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #29 on: November 28, 2018, 08:34:59 AM »
I'm guessing you are based in the US. London/Decca; are they the same quality (both pressed at the Decca factory at New Malden) argument has been going on for decades. Pretty obvious to me they are.

I agree with that - I was always happy with the London pressings.

Quote
American collectors are very critical of Angel, the US arm of EMI. I have not listened to an Angel pressing so cannot comment.

I've had many of them. They were variable - could be anywhere from awful to superb. I think Philips probably had the most reliable pressings overall.
formerly VELIMIR (before that, Spitvalve)

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Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #30 on: November 28, 2018, 10:53:32 AM »
I'm guessing you are based in the US. London/Decca; are they the same quality (both pressed at the Decca factory at New Malden) argument has been going on for decades. Pretty obvious to me they are. American collectors are very critical of Angel, the US arm of EMI. I have not listened to an Angel pressing so cannot comment. In the 1990's thanks to TAS there was a massive surge of interest in Mercury "Living Presence" and RCA "Living Stereo" I got caught up in this myself. Not only US, but UK too,  Reiner, Dorati and other conductors on their roster were superstars. After the death of Harry Pearson, interest waned. I still retain a great affection for both labels.

You are not aware of the STS apocalypse. I don't know if it had the same name in the UK, but old Decca releases were sold in the US as "Stereo Treasury Series." They had covers on white background (a bit like Naxos art work) and they seemed to be the original Decca pressings, rebranded as bargain releases. They sounded fine, although they were probably a little dull because the pressing masters were so old. But around 1978 "London" started manufacturing them in the US, and the US pressings were horrible.


Offline Irons

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2018, 01:06:01 AM »
You are not aware of the STS apocalypse. I don't know if it had the same name in the UK, but old Decca releases were sold in the US as "Stereo Treasury Series." They had covers on white background (a bit like Naxos art work) and they seemed to be the original Decca pressings, rebranded as bargain releases. They sounded fine, although they were probably a little dull because the pressing masters were so old. But around 1978 "London" started manufacturing them in the US, and the US pressings were horrible.

Thanks. I didn't know that. As I mentioned earlier any history of a record company is a tangled mess that defies logic. What I know of the US market is sketchy at best. By your description STS could be the US version of "Ace of Diamonds"  I would not describe them as dull though. In some cases the "Ace of Diamonds" reissues are better sonically then the SXL originals. One thing I have heard loud and clear across the Atlantic is that gold label Decca pressings are horrible. American Decca had no connection (historically they did) with the UK company and due to naming rights Decca were called "London" in the US.  1978 sounds about the time that the Decca factory in New Malden on the outskirts of London closed down. Production for the UK was switched to Holland.
And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #32 on: November 29, 2018, 09:38:38 AM »
Thanks. I didn't know that. As I mentioned earlier any history of a record company is a tangled mess that defies logic. What I know of the US market is sketchy at best. By your description STS could be the US version of "Ace of Diamonds"  I would not describe them as dull though. In some cases the "Ace of Diamonds" reissues are better sonically then the SXL originals. One thing I have heard loud and clear across the Atlantic is that gold label Decca pressings are horrible. American Decca had no connection (historically they did) with the UK company and due to naming rights Decca were called "London" in the US.  1978 sounds about the time that the Decca factory in New Malden on the outskirts of London closed down. Production for the UK was switched to Holland.

Quite so, and they are called Decca here now that whoever owns American Decca was bought by whoever owns British Decca.

Typical cover art:



A lot of Ansermet in that series.

Offline Daverz

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #33 on: November 29, 2018, 01:33:54 PM »
You are not aware of the STS apocalypse. I don't know if it had the same name in the UK, but old Decca releases were sold in the US as "Stereo Treasury Series." They had covers on white background (a bit like Naxos art work) and they seemed to be the original Decca pressings, rebranded as bargain releases. They sounded fine, although they were probably a little dull because the pressing masters were so old. But around 1978 "London" started manufacturing them in the US, and the US pressings were horrible.

They had yellow labels and were thinner, so are easy to avoid.

The orange label London STS are usually a bargain because they sell for less than Decca pressings on the used market.

Glad to not have to worry about that sort of thing anymore.

Offline aligreto

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #34 on: November 29, 2018, 01:46:44 PM »
Cross post from the Listening Thread in relation to Angel versions:


Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 [von Karajan]





This is by far my favourite version of this work. It is a strong, sweeping reading that is full of strength, drama, drive and huge intensity; compelling listening.



I have two versions of this vinyl LP, the HMV issue above and the Angel Records below. To my ear the Angel Records version has a greater presence in terms of presentation.





I like that portrait of the maestro.
The ability to talk comes with knowledge. The ability to listen comes with wisdom.

Offline Irons

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #35 on: November 30, 2018, 12:50:32 AM »


Glad to not have to worry about that sort of thing anymore.

 :D If I didn't worry about that I would soon find something else to worry about.
And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #36 on: November 30, 2018, 12:39:43 PM »
I am one of the resident LP enthusiasts, and the author of the pianists on vinyl thread you reference. Briefly, I started collecting them in 1990 when everyone was getting rid of them. In the late 80s, I actually jumped on the CD bandwagon like everyone else. However, one day upon playing an old LP we had in the house, I found I preferred the sound of LPs in many ways--to say nothing of the tactile pleasures of the disk itself and the covers, liner notes, etc.

Back then I was an undergrad and worked on Saturdays at a book/record store, not so much for the money, but to get my hands on the vinyl everyone was bringing in and selling. However, in nearly 30 years of collecting, my collection remains relatively small and manageable at about 1200 LPs (and about as many CDs). This is largely because I have been picky about condition, and to a lesser extent, some of the minutiae you reference (I avoid pressings from certain labels in certain time intervals)

Obviously, there are many great performances from the LP era (roughly 1950 - 1990), but the sound quality is another issue for me. The debate about CD vs LP quality has been hashed over endlessly, and to the extent people disagree with me, I say GREAT--more for me!  :laugh: Clearly, there are advantages with CDs over LPs, and advancing technology (to a certain extent independent of format itself) has yielded important advances over the years--stereo, increased dynamic range, increased frequency response, etc., etc. AND YET, to my ears, there is something special about vinyl--an immediacy, a warmth (call it distortion if you want, don't really even care), and other qualities that are hard to describe. One such quality is the presentation of the acoustic envelope around the instruments--so many CDs to my ears are quite dry and sound as if the the musicians were recorded separately and overdubbed--harmonically dead!

I have extraordinarily sensitive hearing (my ENT, who has practiced for decades was floored by it when he tested me), and I have also invested a fair amount of money over the years in playback equipment--turntable, tonearm, etc. And yet, I don't really consider myself a "golden ears" audiophile. I care about the music first and foremost, and don't have unlimited funds or patience to endlessly futz around with equipment.

I have become interested in certain labels over the years, partly because of their sonic attributes. I am fascinated with the Westminster label, especially from the 1950s. Also Period, Columbia, etc from that same era. Despite all of our advances in recording/playback since then, the sound from this era is very compelling to me and other collectors I know. These were especially compelling for small ensemble, chamber, piano, voice, but not so much for organ or orchestral, for which I do often prefer more modern recordings, or even CD. As a pipe organ enthusiast, I do think this is one case in which I prefer CD, generally.

Vinyl has been coming back in a big way over the last decade or so, and it cannot be entirely due to teh much-maligned hipsters. Vinyl enthsiasts are a very diverse bunch, from classical and jazz lovers like me, to 19 year-old kids who like indie rock and don't even own a turntable (some buy the disk and download the MP3). It will never be what it once was in terms of volume, but it is certainly interesting to visit a brick and mortar record store these days. It is as if time is running in reverse ad the LPs are eating up more and more space once allocated to CDs.

Nevertheless, as a busy person, I often don't want to mess with the LPs themselves, which is why I digitize them on a regular basis (about one a week) and listen mostly on my computer or headphones, or larger system. THe special LP qualities still seem to come through on digital (although I use a higher sampling than 44.1, etc)

As for collecting, I have too much music to listen to if anything, especially on CD, where I have many large sets with many disks I have not even heard yet. I enjoy augmenting my LP collection by picking up a disk or two here and there from eBay or a brick and mortar store. But, it is a luxury, not a necessity. I like to compare it to my watch fascination--sure I could buy a $20 Timex quartz that would keep better time than my mechanical pieces, but it is just not the same!
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline Irons

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #37 on: December 01, 2018, 02:49:49 AM »
Thank you! A most interesting post and eloquently written.

My road to Damascus is very similar to your own. I embraced CD with a passion and sold my LP collection for a pittance. After a whole string of CD players I arrived at a state of the art Meridian player. The quest for "perfect sound for ever" did not stop there, connected to the Meridian was an all valve (tube) DAC made by Audio Note, which was not one of my best purchases; I phoned the wife from work to switch it on so as the valves were fully warmed up! The sound of CD is much improved, a big improvement from what it was. Back then, I was forever buying more and more of the silver discs seeking musical satisfaction which was proving to be elusive.
 I was an avid reader of the US hi-fi magazine TAS. Harry Pearson the owner, promoted Mercury and RCA with an infectious enthusiasm. Each recording was poured over by the minutest detail. In the early 90's Wilma Cozart began to remaster the Mercury catalogue to CD. I loved them, buying every CD on release. Mercury, Everest and RCA were my musical nirvana back then. I started to think if I like analogue recordings from the 1950's so much more then digital recordings then it may be a sensible idea to listen to them on the equipment they were intended for. It took a few more years before I actually took the plunge - or more accurately a back somersault - when vinyl re-entered my life.
No argument, LP and what it is played on is a faff. But I enjoy the hobby side of it.

And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.

Offline aligreto

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #38 on: December 01, 2018, 03:09:37 AM »
Two well written posts, guys, with many sentiments echoing my own experiences; selling off the vinyl collection and equipment, investing in the new technology and ultimately reverting back many years later. I also still inhabit both media worlds and I only know of one friend who operates exclusively in vinyl. 
The ability to talk comes with knowledge. The ability to listen comes with wisdom.

Offline Irons

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Re: Thirty three and a third.
« Reply #39 on: December 01, 2018, 07:57:39 AM »
Two well written posts, guys, with many sentiments echoing my own experiences; selling off the vinyl collection and equipment, investing in the new technology and ultimately reverting back many years later. I also still inhabit both media worlds and I only know of one friend who operates exclusively in vinyl.

I didn't own a CD player until quite recently. The reason I got one is I felt I was missing out on music and artists of the last thirty odd years. As I said I have no wish to score points on either as to which is best. Two things struck me though, music itself, or rather the way it is played, has changed. The HIP movement has had a noticeable positive affect in the intervening years. CD sound has improved, the one thing that bothers me with the medium is ironically, background noise! The music emerges from a blackness, my wife has noticed the same thing. Excessive surface noise from vinyl is usually a sign of a poorly setup or matched system. Get that right, and train your brain to ignore the odd pop and click, and then a LP record produces a natural organic sound.   
And behind the slime and the croaking there was , sure enough, like an old master beneath a layer of dirt, the noble outline of that divine music. - Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf.