My Favorites from Two Months of Grading

Harold's Best

Offenbach, Jacques. Gaîté Parisienne. Strauss, Johann. Graduation Ball (Antal Dorati, arranger.) Minneapolis Symphony. Antal Dorati, conductor. Mercury Living Presence SRI 75014 (c1974). Codes: SRI 75 014 670 06/ SRI 75 014 2Y1 670 06. Reissue Label. New Disq Playing Grade 96/96. Disq Visual Grade 98/98. Cover 100. This is a Seventies transistor reissue remastered with a European ear--it is a calm and refined an issue. (But simply, it was the most fun to listen to of all the records I heard.) *****(*)




Dvorák, Antonin. Piano Trio in f, Op. 65. Leonard Pennario, piano. Glière, Reinhold. Duo for Violin and Cello. Handel-Halvorsen. Passacaglia. Stravinsky, Igor. Suite Italienne. Jascha Heifetz, violin. Gregor Piatigorsky, 'cello. John Pfeiffer, record producer. Columbia Masterworks M 33447 (c1976). Codes: MAL 33447-1E / MBL 33447-1F. 1st Label. Disq Playing Grade 93/94. Disq Visual Grade 95/95. Inner Sleeve 95. Promotional Cover 100. This is full-blown Romantic phonography--a production of passion and sweetness and just a few wrong notes. (And it takes a little time for the boys to warmup to Stravinsky.) *****(*)






Bach, J.S. Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D (BWV 1050). Overture in D (BWV 1069). The English Concert. Trevor Pinnock, conductor. Andreas Holschneider, record producer. Karl-August Naegler, recording engineer. Archiv 2533440 (c1980). Codes: 2533 440 S 1 3 20 A 1 / 2533 440 S 2 3 20 1. 1st Label. Disq Playing Grade 94/94. Disq Visual Grade 96/96. Inner Sleeve 95. Album 96. Recorded in Henry Wood Hall, London on November 1 and 2 , 1979. I came to this record first because it was recorded in Henry Wood Hall, a venue Mary Morris Lawrence was instrumental in establishing. These slightly mannered performances are off set by their natural setting and detailed perspective. This is subtle but effective phonography. ****




Arne, Thomas. Sonata No. 3 in G. Sonata No. 6 in g. Bull, John. Fantasia. Bach, C.P.E. Fantasy in C. Sonata No 2 from" Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen." Byrd, William. Pavana delight; Galiarda. Farnaby, Giles. Giles Farnaby's dreame; His rest; Faranbye's conceit; his humour. Gibbons, Orlando. Fantasia. The Italian ground. Lincoln's Inn masque; The Queen's command. Philips, Peter. Galiarda pasamezzo. Christopher Hogwood, keyboards. Peter Waland, record producer. L'Oiseau-Lyre DSLO 609 (c1983). 1st Label. Disq Playing Grade 95/95. Disq Visual Grade 98/98. Inner Sleeve 95. Insert 98. Cover 96. This is not a boring keyboard record, as much for its varied program as for Hogwood's use of eleven different instruments of six different types--two different organs, four different harpsichords, two different virginals, a spinet, a fortepiano, and a clavichord. This is a dazzling recital, an entertaining record, and fine, fine phonography. *****






Martin, Frank. Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion, and String Orchestra (c1949). Varèse, Edgar. Arcana (c1925-27). Chicago Symphony. Jean Martinon, conductor. Howard Scott, record producer. Bernard Keville, recording engineer. RCA Victor Red Seal LSC 2914 (c1966). Codes: TRRS-2362--2S A1 I / TRRS-2363 -1S A1 I. Disq Playing Grade 94/94. Disq visual Grade 95/95. Inner Sleeve 95/95. Cover 96/96. ***** Classic phonography, this record fills the listening room to overflowing. Arcana, particularly, is a work of varied colors--all excitingly rendered. (This is a classic stereo collectible.) *****(*)






Schumann, Robert. Duets and Four Songs from Op. 98a. Jan DeGaetani, soprano. Leslie Guinn, baritone. Gilbert Kalish, Baldwin SD10 piano. Teresa Sterne, record producer. Marc J. Aubort and Joanna Nickrenz, recording engineer and music supervisor. Nonesuch H-71365 (c1979). Codes: H-71364- A-SP MASTERDISK LR / H-71364-B-RE MASTERDISK LR. 1st Label. New Disq Playing Grade 93/93. New Disq Visual Grade 96/96. Insert 98. Promotional Cover 94. *****






Williams, John. Close Encounters of the Third Kind Suite. Star Wars Suite. Los Angeles Philharmonic. Zubin Mehta, conductor. Ray Minshull, record producer. James Locke, Micheal Mailes and Simon Eadon, recording engineers. Stan Ricker, mastering engineer. London ZM1001 (c1978). Codes: LAPO 101 (4) AD 2950 / LAPO-102 AD 0950. 1st Label. Disq Playing Grade 93/93. Disq Visual Grade 96/96. Inner Sleeve 95. Cover 95. When I've played records of American art music for friends unfamiliar with it, the listener often remarks "That sounds like movie-music." Actually, it's the other way round. *****

Stan Ricker writes of this session

"I was invited by Jimmy Locke and Simon Eadon to join them during the taping of 'Star Wars' and 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind.' at Royce Hall, UCLA.

They picked me up at the JVC Cutting Center and we drove over to UCLA, parking behind Royce Hall. We went in thru a back door, and as we worked our way up front where the orchestra was, I noticed the 'Decca Tree' with , I think, the three M-50 Neumanns up there, maybe nine feet off the floor, and the two outrigger mikes, also, although I'm not all that clear as to how far spread apart, left to right, the outriggers were. The orchestra was, I believe, flat on the floor, with no risers.

I also noticed that just about all of the seats in the audience area of Royce Hall were covered over with big sheets of plywood to increase the reverb time; it really worked, as I sure was noticing what seemed like more reverb than what I'd normally associate with a space that size.

Jimmy took me to where the recording gear was; a really neatly-designed, modular, do-it-yourself-fold-up-traveling-console rig that all anyone had to do was wheel these modules in, park them side-by-side, take the covers off, plug in the wiring harness,plug in the mikes , plug in the tape recorders, and it was all ready to go. All made by Decca, of course! This is where I met Ray Minshull.

They used three recorders that day, one 8-track, and two 1/4-inch 2-track machines at 15IPS. All machines used Dolby A noise reduction. The 8-track was for back-up only, 5 tracks being used for the 5 mikes in operation. The two, two-track machines were each fed from electrically equal split outputs, so both were Master Recorders, not daisy-chained. I think that all three were Studer machines. I asked Jimmy if they added in any EQ for American consumers, and he said that thy dialed in about 1dB at 12.5KC.

One of the personal highlights for me was meeting, at one time, Zubin Mehta and John Williams--it turned out that we were all the same age. I remember asking Mehta if he ever missed playing his bass. He laughed a bit and said, 'After you've played "'the Big Instrument'", it's hard to go back to the section again.'

All the full orchestra pieces were recorded first, then the orchestra sent on a break while we did the Cantina Scene from 'Star Wars.' The Decca staff messed around with miking it, but were not happy with their results, so they asked me 'How would you mike this group?' It was basically a dance band strung out in a single straight line; a couple of trumpets and trombones on the left, the rhythm section center, and a couple of saxes on the right and the fellow playing the Steel Drums way far right and forward up against the wall. So I suggested using the three mikes from the Decca tree as a spread Left-Center-Right [modified Bob Fine] set-up, as the mikes would only be six feet off the floor, and closer-in, panned if necessary; and a fourth mike over the pair of Steel-Drums, and panned to wherever Ray felt it would be best--presumably somewhere near center. At any rate, they seemed to like what they heard, and used it.

When the recording was over, all Jimmy had to do was razor-blade edit out the dead air between takes, head-and-tail-paper-leader the reels,and we had a complete set of masters to go! Absolutely amazing accuracy and efficiency, with no discord anywhere by anybody that I was aware of! I mastered the lacquers within eight hours of the time the Master Tapes were made."










Gould, Morton. Latin-American Symphonette (c1941). Fall River Legend: Cotillion(c1948). Festive Music (c1965). Philharmonic Waltzes (c1948). Quickstep. London Symphony. Morton Gould, conductor. Brian B. Culverhouse, record producer. Bruce Rothar, Soundstream engineer. Stan Ricker, mastering engineer. Varese Sarabande DIGITAL VCDM 1000.10 (c1980). Codes: DMS1001-A SR / DMS-1001B2 111. 1st Label. Disq Playing Grade 94/94. Disq Visual Grade 98/98. Inner Sleeve 95. Album 95. Recorded at Watford Town Hall, London on Spetember 17 and 18, 1978. This Soundstream digital recording is warmer than many late transistor-analog records. With an accessible music program, this production combines natural string-tone and delicate detail. The result is engaging phonography. *****





Prokofiev, Sergei. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No 5 in G, Op. 55 (c1932). John Browning, piano. Boston Symphony. Erich Leinsdorf, conductor. Weill, Kurt. Three Penny Opera Suite (c1928). Boston Symphony Members. Peter Dellheim, record producer. Bernard Keville, recording engineer. British RCA Victor Red Seal SB 6827 (c1970). Codes: XRRS-1901-1K I G JV / XRRS-1902-1K I C JT. 1st British Label. Disq Playing Grade 96/96. Disq Visual Grade 96/96. Inner Sleeve 95. Cover 96. The production of the Prokofiev concerto is many things, masculine playing, powerful presentation, clean sound. But, most of all, it is absolutely stunning phonography. *****












Barber, Samuel. Adagio for Strings Op. 11. Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, Op.23 a. Second Essay for String Orchestra, Op. 17. The School for Scandal Overture, Op. 5. New York Philharmonic. Thomas Schippers, conductor. Columbia Odyssey Y 33230 (c1974). Codes: MAL 33230-1B C / MBL 33230-1A C. Reissue Label of CBS 32 11 0006 (c1966). Disq Playing Grade 93/93. Disq Visual Grade 95/95. Inner Sleeve 95. Promotional Cover 94. Released as part of Columbia's Great Stereo Recordings Series, this is a particularly fine reissue of, in fact, one of Columbia's great stereo recordings. This transistor redo is more delicate, but not as warm as he original. Still, it remains great phonography. (The original issue was one of the first stereo collectibles.) *****(*)




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