Tuesday, September 14, 2021

 


"Halfway" 'Round the World with Janos Starker
Starker Plays Kodaly

I originally planned to include this entire 3 LP box set of early Period Records Janos Starker recordings, but ran into difficulties. First the original set I had did not include the Mozart or Boccherini sides, but duplicates of two of the Kodaly pieces. The second set I bought had the same issue. There was obviously a problem at the factory. At the prices the set is now being sold for, I did not feel like risking a repeat, and, to be honest, the Kodaly pieces included in this post, are the reasons this is one of my favorite record sets. 

In particular, though Starker recorded the Unaccompanied sonata on a number of other occasions, none of them match the intensity and technical bravura of this early recording, which remains my favorite of the piece by anyone, including Starker's subsequent essays. 

I have the Mozart and Boccherini concertos on an Everest fake stereo LP that I think sounds awful. After hours of work trying to get it to sound better, I have decided to settle for uploading the Kodaly and leaving the rest, at least for now. The Bartok Rhapsody and Weiner Kakodalmas have annoying audible clunks - either from the original transfer or my LP.  I have discovered I have the original pressing of those pieces, so if I manage to fix those issues someday, I'll post them, but for now the best of the box are the three Kodaly pieces included here: The Unaccompanied Sonata for Cello, Op.8, the Duo for Violin and Cello Op.7, and the Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 4.  The box is worth getting for the Op. 8 alone.

All files can be found here: 

Starker Plays Kodaly

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Robert Mann plays Bartok Solo Sonata

 Bartok Solo Sonata / Contrasts

Robert Mann, Violin - Stanely Drucker, Clarinet - Leonid Hambro, Piano


Here is the first recording of Bartok's Solo Sonata for Violin with the original last movement quarter-tones.  (Menuhin, who commissioned it, of course made the first recording, but it included changes to the original score.)  It is important for that alone, but it is much more, a brilliant performance of a great, late piece by Bartok.  The Constrasts, with Stanley Drucker and Leonid Hambro is one of the best performances I've heard, and with much better sound than Bartok's own recording with Benny Goodman and Szigeti. I have no personal need to look further than those two recordings, though, lover of Bartok that I am, I have others.

The recording was undertaken by Bartok records under the direction of  Bela Bartok's son, Peter. and they are masterfully recorded. I had a very clean LP to transfer using the Shure V15  V-MR. It only required a little declicking and very very little surface vibration removal.  The renovated file sound good, but adds nothing to the surprisingly full bodied, detailed,  and focused sound of the original from 1949.  Peter Bartok was a sound engineer, and quite a good one to go by this and several other Bartok Records productions.

I've included the record jacket notes, separating the three text columns into 3 jpegs for easier reading. I only take issue to the opening line of the text, which asserts that, "Bartok could not, with any accuracy, be classified as a 'modern' composer in the conventional sense of the term."  While it is true that Bartok is deeply influenced by classic forms and folk music, his application of those influences places him squarely in 20th century modernism.  The Solo Violin Sonata is "Bachian", but could by no means be mistaken for Bach. The third and forth string quartets have deep classical formal roots, and yet could not have been written other than the time they were composed, nor by anyone but Bartok. Denying him his place in the pantheon of great moderns is simply misguided, even if he mostly has a place among the  greatest of the greats of all time.

Links to all the files, Flac, MP3, and album and CD art, can be found here: 

https://www.mediafire.com/folder/cbyo4aby1l368/Bartok_Robert_Mann_Solo_Sonata_Constrasts


Friday, August 20, 2021

Reginald Kell and Casadesus play Mozart

Mozart Clarinet Concerto

Reginal Kell / Zimbler Sinfonietta


My two favorite clarinetists are Reginal Kell, featured here, and Gervase de Peyer.  This recording from 1949, issued on this 10 inch Decca LP in 1950 is a beautiful example of  the art of the former, paired with the Zimbler Sinfonietta, a select group of Boston Symphony Orchestra players of the period. The playing is Mozartian and stylish, though still hearty enough to give the authentic instrument crowd the vapors.
The Zimbler personnell are listed thus:
Violins: E. Kornsand, G. Zazofsky, H. Dubbs, V. Resnikoff, N. Lauga, H. Dickson, C. Knudsen, M. Zung, H. Silberman, S. Benson  Violas: Joseph De Pasquale, J. Cauhape, A. Bernard. Celli: J. Zimbler, S. Mayes, H. Droeghmans. Double Bass: H. Portnoi.

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major K 467

Robert Casadesus / Charles Munch

Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York



Here is a full blooded performance of the K467 piano concerto of Mozart with that incomparable Mozartian, Robert Casadesus, accompanied by Charles Munch leader the NY Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. 

 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Of Cartridges and Needles



I am not an audiophile, and I do not have an audiophile set-up plugged into my computer soundcard. Nor am I a sound technician, which I have confessed several times. For the work here, I am "playing it by ear", a method perfectly adapted to the task at hand.  Nonetheless, I've tried to put together a system with which I can do decent quality restorations and which, when it is not going through my computer, lets me enjoy listening to my vinyl collection.  Since some people are interested in these things, here it is:

 I have three cartridge/stylus sets that I use on a regular basis, plus a cartridge with two styli, one for 78's, and one basic conical to play records too beat up to trust my other needles to. The three daily use are: An Audio Technica AT120E. It gives me the sound I want 90% of the time, and it is what I usually use for my own listening. The other AT is the 440Mla, sold  to me as an upgrade, but which is often a little too bright for me, though time has tamed it some. It is, however, the best tracker I have, and I have used it for records with tracking issues, later revisiting the equalization, and for LPs that seem dull.  My third is a Shure V15 Type V-MR, given to me by Fred Maroth when I was working on the Schneider Quartet Haydn project for him. He ended up not using my work, but not through any fault of the Shure.  It has a beautifully detailed output that I think of as generally neutral, at least on my set-up. I use it on records in very good condition when I feel its sound signature is called for.  It's not an exact science, and I confess it could well change from one day to the next.  As I wrote this I am re-recording with the AT120E the Bartok Solo Violin Sonata with Robert Mann on Bartok Records, which I originally recorded with the Shure.  I'm liking the sound of the AT. So it goes.  I'll decide which version to use tomorrow.

The rest of my set-up is decent rather than awe inspiring: A Yamaha R-S202 receiver, which is what I could afford when my old TEAC receiver died; a Cambridge Audio 640P pre-amp, all the more necessary as the Yamaha has no phono inputs or pre-amp, truly made for the post vinyl world; an old Numark TT200 with the S arm, not the DJ Scratch arm it came with, which I keep thinking of replacing but which continues to serve my needs; a set of Elac UB5 bookshelf speakers (nice, but I wish I'd gotten the KLH Albany, which I contemplated getting after using KLH in the 70's and a classic pair still in my living room with a different set up); Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 250 ohm headphones, bought specifically for my restoration projects.  And an EVA NU Audio soundcard, a considerable improvement over the built in  RealTek audio on my Dell XPS desktop.

While all of the above is respectable, none of it is top of the line, which I cannot afford and probably could not hear. What I have delivers satisfying musical output, which is all I ask for, and the CD's I make from my LP's sound good to my ears. I have used much less well equipped systems in years past (ceramic cartridge anyone?) and enjoyed my Brahms and Bartok just as much.  



Henry Cowel: Set of Five

 Henry Cowell

Set of Five for Violin, Piano, and Percussion

Hovhaness Kirghiz Suite, Ives Violin Sonata No. 4


An important 1956 recording of a significant work by Henry Cowell, composed at the request of the Ajemian sisters, that is, surprisingly, not on CD.  I like the Ives sonata a bit more edgy, but it is certainly played well here.  And my favorite rendition of it, Szigeti's with Foldes from 1941, is considered too "gypsy" for some, whatever that means.  For my money the most important recording here is the Cowell, and its a bang up performance of terrific piece of music. The entire album is included. Hope you enjoy it! 



Sunday, August 15, 2021

Chamber Music Society Dvorak Chamber Music

Dvorak

E flat Piano Quartet Op. 87, F minor Piano Trio Op. 65


These are lovely performances, but the digitizing of them took some doing. I used two microline styluses on their recommended cartridges, and the results were harsh with distorted highs. Finally, my favorate cartidge/stylus for general listening, the AT 120E, did the trick. Even then, I re-equalized the final files to restrain what were, for me, a little too strident highs. I'm fairly pleased with the result. 

I like Dvorak's chamber music - a lot!  I have all the Piano trios with the Suk Trio, and those records are pretty much the gold standard for me, but I am always interested in hearing the Chamber Music Society records. The music is invariably performed by good musicians, if not the most famous.  Louis Kaufman and Artur Balsam on this record are probably the most well known, but all the others were highly respected performers. A sister label to Concert Hall records, most of the CMS releases had, ""licensed by Concert Hall Society for Non-commercial use", on the label, as does this record. 

The recordings have an important place in recording history, encouraging the recording of chamber music, and the performances usually stand in their own right.


 


Walter Trampler and Horszowski play Brahms Op. 102

 Walter Trample / Mieczyslaw Horszowski

Brahm's Op. 102  Viola Sonatas

Stravinksy Elégie


Trampler and Horszowski both are artists of towering stature, and for me these performances of the Brahms Op. 102 sonatas are definitive. I realize how personal that is,  so I only claim that they define the works for me. They are brilliant performances by any standard, though. That this recording is not on CD (at least I could not find it) is inexplicable, and shameful, really.

I retrieved this LP from my record shelves thinking of it as one of my "new" records, only to be faced with a handwritten dedication on the back of the jacket,   "To Larry from Jerry, Xmas 1974".   Time flies when you're having musical fun!  47 years later, both the music and the performances continue to excite me. Trampler still stands at the summit of viola art, Horzowski is still a pianist of consummate musicianship, and Brahms chamber music still provides unmatched musical satisfaction to me. Those artists have departed for that great concert hall in the sky, and long before another 47 years goes by, I'll have joined them.  Meanwhile, however, I have a lot of listening still to do. This is a special record for me, and being able to offer a digital version is very satisfying.

The Stravinsky is something I could not fit on another Trampler CD, so I am including it here.



                        


Saturday, August 7, 2021

Prokofiev: Lazar Berman play Piano Concerto No. 1

 Serge Prokofiev / Lazar Berman

Piano Concerto No. 1 / Toccata

Piano Sonata No. 8

I did this digitization for  my roommate, who wanted the record on CD. It doesn't seem available commercially and the performances are worth putting into digital form.  The information I found about the recording from musicwebinternational.com indicates the original recording is from 1956 with the original Hungaroton LP release in the 1970's : 

"Lazar Berman (piano)/András Kórodi/Hungarian State Orchestra (rec. 1956) ( + Toccata, Liszt: Transcendental Etudes Nos. 8 and 11, Funérailles, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9 and Rhapsodie Espagnole) HUNGAROTON HCD 31685 (1997) (original LP release: HUNGAROTON SHLX 90048) (1970s)

The waveforms look like the original was recorded at too  high a level, but it does not sound obviously distorted.  I'm not a sound technician, so I have no explanation,  but it sounds reasonably good. I didn't do much but some basic declicking and removing a bit of rumble. 

All files, Flac, MP3, and cover art can be found here: https://www.mediafire.com/folder/vgo17lptm0kg8/Prokofiev_Berman_Concerto_1_Sonata_8_Toccata




Saturday, July 31, 2021

Budapest Quartet plays Debussy and Ravel: 1940 recording

Budapest String Quartet
Debussy / Ravel Quartets 
1940


 I've been meaning to get this up for ages. If the very different 1960's Juilliard recording is my desert island choice for these works, I've always been very fond of this gutsy performance by the Budapest.  I hope I have managed to do justice to the very good sound from the 1940's (in this pressing from the '50's).  Pristine classical has issued it, probably from a cleaner source the I have, though my LP is in quite good shape for a well-played vintage record.  As I have said before, give them a listen and if you like the performances but would prefer a professional transfer, Pristine classical is still available.  There is something special about the Budapest's take on the works in these performances - less French, perhaps, than some might like, but beautifully executed.

All files, Flac, MP3, and cover art can be found here: https://www.mediafire.com/folder/70pqbncwwoht3/Budapest+St.+Quartet.+Debussy+Ravel.+1940

Bach Geistliche Leider. Cuenod, Roessel-Majdan vol 4

Bach Geistliche Leider   Cuenod
Roessel Majdan  Vol 4   



 Here, at long last, is the final volume of the Bach Geistliche Lieder with Hilde Roessel-Majdan and Hugues Cuenod.  I finally found an LP that tracked. Thank you Baro for reminding me of the incomplete project. The Flac and MP3 files, along with CD covers are at the following link: 


I think I used the same cartridge, but I honestly cannot vouch for that. The results do not seem markedly different from the previous volumes.  I hope you enjoy them. I know that I feel quite satisfied at finally getting the complete set up.