Delibes Ballet Music - Famous Overtures - Charles Mackerras HDTT3876
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Title: Delibes - Ballet Music - “La Source” Act 2
The Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden
Mikado Overture - Philharmonia Orchestra
Donna Diana Overture - Hunting Parson Overture
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by Charles Mackerras
Recording Info: Transferred from a HMV Stereosonic 2 -track tape
Delibes La Source 23 April 1956 No. 1 Studio Abbey Road, London Producer Brian B. Culverhouse Engineer Christopher Parker
Hunting Parson 4 June 1956 Kingsway Hall, London Producer Brian B. Culverhouse Engineer Christopher Parker*
Donna Diana 4 June 1956 Kingsway Hall, London Producer Brian B. Culverhouse Engineer Christopher Parker*
Mikado 9 June 1956 No.1 studio abbey Road, London Producer David Bucknell Engineer Christopher Parker*
* Stereosonic tapes prepared but never issued the were issued in white boxes from CRL (Central Research Laboratories) EMI Hayes, Middlesex.
A Brief History of the Stereosonic Tape Releases
From February 1955 EMI began recording in Stereo in earnest with Nicolai Malko and the Philharmonia Orchestra in Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. After this most HMV UK sessions seem to have had some sort of Stereo set present although as Walter Legge disliked Stereo Columbia he was far more patchy in using the new medium. However the Karajan/Philharmonia Orchestra/Vienna Singverein Beethoven Symphony No.9 and Mozart Ave Verum Corpus were recorded at the Musikvereinssaal in Vienna between 24-29 July 1955 in a rudimentary Stereo although not very satisfactory. (The Mozart was issued on SAX 2389 in 1961 But the Beethoven was not issued until 2014.
On Monday 4th April 1955 the inaugural demonstration of the “His Master’s Voice” “Stereosonic” Tape Records was given at the recording studios, Abbey Road N.W.8. with an introduction by Sir Malcolm Sargent (probably more compered as he wasn’t known as “Flash Harry” for nothing – a great showman who introduced millions to the beauties of classical music) and a technical description by Mr. H.A.M. Clark (technical manager of the record division). In No.3 studio they provided cocktails and there was a chance to see the new “Stereosonic” reproducer with more music being played in No.2 studio. The music that was played at the inaugural demonstration is listed below:-
1. Tchaikovsky: Suite No.3 4th Movement Variations Nos.4-9 – Sir Malcolm Sargent Philharmonia Orchestra
2. Brahms: Variations on a fugue by Handel (excerpts) – Widold Malcuzynski
3. Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro Excepts from Finale Act 4 – Marcus Dods/The Sadler’s Wells Orchestra/Marjorie Shires/Joan Stuart/Elizabeth Robinson/Frederick Sharp/Denis Dowling (NB:This was not the Glyndebourne Recording which wasn’t made until June 1955)
4. Jazz me Blues - from “Dance to Don Felipe” HSD 2801
The actual launch of the first issue of Stereosonic tape records and the HMV Reproducer Model No.3 was in October of 1955. However the first review of these tapes by The Gramophone magazine didn’t occur until August 1956 by Roger Fiske. He was very enthusiastic and said “what I was getting did not seem like a substitute for the real thing. It was the real thing.” He went on to say that “aurally the illusion was complete…or is it? Anyway this is immeasurably better than anything one has heard before. A surprising number (of tapes) have been sold already, surprising for the equipment (to play them on) is inevitably very expensive. ” However his most telling comment concerns the simple recording technique “But one of the glories of the new system is that it makes multi-mic technique a thing of the past where serious music is concerned. The dual microphone can be placed surprisingly far back and still achieve both definition and reverberation. The greater distance from the sound source itself increases the realism of the resulting sound, for few of us are used to sitting in the front row. It also means that the players must achieve internal balance and not rely, as so often in the past, on the unfortunate technician to see them through.” Perhaps this is an area that we should return to today when an orchestral recording can use anything up to 70 microphones.
Reviews for Stereosonic tapes were very favourable. In Gramophone June 1956 is a report of an HMV demonstration on 26th April at the Royal Festival Hall in London. The Paul Tortellier/Sir Malcolm Sargent/Philharmonia recording of the Dvorak Cello Concerto was found “entirely satisfying, and the placing…of the instrumentalist was most realistic. It also says that the Geraint Jones Franck Chorale in A Minor No.3 was also entirely satisfying. (Track 1 Disc 1 of this compilation.) The review finished by saying “What impressed me once again, and most particularly, was the sheer quality at both ends of the scale that is obtainable by the Stereosonic method. In August 1956 again in Gramophone Roger Fiske noted that he had missed the first public demonstration of Stereosonic tapes at the National Radio and Television Exhibition in August 1955. He went on to say that “what I was getting did not seem like a substitute for the real thing. It was the real thing (the) aural illusion is complete. Or is it? Anyway this is immeasurably better than anything one has heard before.” He then went on to point out that “The choice of music is curiously adventurous. It seems to presuppose that the type of man who buys this equipment prefers out-of-the-way music to more obvious fare. However although a surprising number were sold the tapes made little commercial impact which was probably just as well as they in all probability cost far more to produce than they sold for but as loss leaders to whet the public’s appetite for Stereo sound on disc which eventually came in 1958 they were a success.
Over 130 stereosonics were issued on HMV & Columbia (EMI UK). 2 track (international CCIR standard) 7 1/2 ips. All had leader and tail printed tape attached .. Only HMV imported into US by RCA (Columbia was not part of RCA agreement) In 1958 EMI set up Angel Reel tapes made in UK but only sold in USA.