Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Saturday, August 21, 2021
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:
Friday, August 20, 2021
Mozart Clarinet Concerto
Reginal Kell / Zimbler Sinfonietta
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.
Set of Five for Violin, Piano, and Percussion
Hovhaness Kirghiz Suite, Ives Violin Sonata No. 4
Sunday, August 15, 2021
E flat Piano Quartet Op. 87, F minor Piano Trio Op. 65
Walter Trample / Mieczyslaw Horszowski
Brahm's Op. 102 Viola Sonatas
Saturday, August 7, 2021
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
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
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: