Monday, 28 July 2014

Frozen

Dead fox in garden, 5DII, 19-Nov-12

I know, I do almost nothing on this blog, except apologise for doing nothing…

But now I’m really frozen. Not as frozen as this fox, which we found one morning 18 months ago, in the green patch behind the Cave. To begin with, I thought it was dozing, as they sometimes do there. We love watching them, when they think no one can see them, completely relaxed and behaving just like pets, yawning, stretching, scratching, wondering what to play with next… and effortlessly beautiful. But after a bit, La G & I realised it wasn’t kippin’ due to it being tired and shagged out following a long squawk. In the end, we had to shovel the poor stiff into a black bin liner and leave it to be collected with the rest of the week’s ‘rubbish’, on the Cave’s designated Friday morning.

The ‘tidying’ was advancing at a glacial pace anyway – but now it really has ground to a halt, as I have a frozen shoulder (or adhesive capsulitis). Possibly two – my right shoulder is beginning to hurt imperceptibly more, just as as my left one did a few months ago. Innocuous-sounding, this condition is really quite nasty: apart from almost constant discomfort, if I suddenly move the affected arm outside its very restricted zone, I suffer short but intense agony; and halfway through the night I wake up with pain which feels much worse at that deathly hour. It gets better during the day, strangely.

Mustn’t complain – I could have something far more serious. This I can live with, though my already pitiful productivity will plummet asymptotically. Still, odd that nature has found exactly the disease to mirror my general state! The transfers too have ground to a halt. I’m not happy with my initial dubs or my treatments (mainly the EQ); I really must get my (tone-)arm recalibrated – and at least one of those blasted 78rpm turntables up and running. Luckily, my buying has calmed down, so there’s not so much coming into the Cave.

But my selling has also slowed down. Doesn’t help that I found my lovely, mostly mint LPs have been attacked by mildew. Not the Cave’s fault – they’ve been fine here for years, until this last, hideously wet winter. The discs are still pristine but some sleeves now have unsightly brown splodges. Won’t look good to buyers. Not that I’ve tried selling anything yet – I have this idiotic phobia about it, imagining I’m going to be messed about by some analogue nutter or scammed by someone from a country with no respect for the rule of law.

But I’ll continue writing here – I hope. I’ve bought some wonderful CDs recently and really must tell someone about them. I’ve read some very interesting books (PhD theses, mostly), too. And of course I have various grumps I really must get off my chest – the shocking quality of commercial and institutional (and private) sound-file metadata, for starters. And you never know – one day I might get my act together and start dubbing some of these fabulous 78s I’ve bought. So please bear with me. And – sorry. Again!

Aunt Marion's side table, M9, 1-Dec-12

Sunday, 23 March 2014

One out, Ten in

Felsted L 89003 front

Vivaldi 6 Concertos for flute, strings & b.c. Op.10
Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute),
Robert Veyron-Lacroix (harpsichord),
Louis de Froment Instrumental Ensemble
Felsted L 89003
(rec. 1953/54?, Paris?, issued September 1954)

It’s no good – much as I try to declutter the Cave, which is mainly what’s kept me from here (once again, many apologies), more floods in. I’ve not been ruthless enough – after several trips to the dump, there are still piles of ancient hi-fi and computer bits, books I’ve not looked at in 30 years, endless runs of magazines… And, of course, for every disc that goes out, an order of magnitude more comes in. But La Grumpy is pleased with my progress. And she has always generously indulged my endless purchases and acquisitions, such as this nice and little-known LP, bought recently from France.

Stuff does go out. For several years I’ve been selling surplus CDs online – a couple a month, usually (often, not even that many). That’s far too slow to make a dent in the Cave, so I’ve started giving discs (78s and LPs too) to our national sound archive. Some people will be surprised to learn that it doesn’t already ‘have everything’. It receives some new releases, yes, from some record companies, as voluntary donations; but many, it has to buy, since Britain has no statutory legal deposit of audio-visual material, unlike printed material. This was one of the subjects discussed on Friday 21st March at Keeping Tracks, a symposium on ‘music and archives in the digital age’ organized by the British Library in London. One presentation, by Trond Valberg and Lars Gaustad of Norway’s National Library, left us all green. Get this: they not only do have statutory legal deposit of audio-visual material, they also receive original master recordings from record companies!

What’s that got to do with this post? Well, I’d much rather you could enjoy this LP remastered from the original tape than from my pre-loved pressing, even though it has come up pretty well, thanks (as ever) to Brian Davies’ marvellous software. What are companies like Universal, Sony or Warner – none of which attended the symposium or, I gather, have bothered to respond to the British Library’s overtures about digital archiving – going to do with material which they’re unlikely ever to remaster digitally and sell? Does anyone at Universal, which now owns Decca, publisher of this LP, know about it or where the master tape is?

In fact, who recorded the master? In August 1954, The Gramophone reported the launch of Felsted, a subsidiary label of Decca carrying material licensed from France and falling into three categories, ‘Serious, Jazz and Swing and Authentic Dance Rhythms… The serious music… will feature both Classical and Modern music.’ Felsted lasted into the 1960s but its programme of ‘Serious’ music soon fizzled out, amounting to just seven 12-inch LPs and one 10-inch. I’ve only come across three or four for sale, of which I’ve managed to buy this and one other (I was outbid on a third).

Felsted masters were apparently licensed from the French label Classic. Rampal certainly recorded for Classic: I own a 78 of Bach’s solo Partita BWV 1013 played by him, which I plan to transfer and share once I get the Cave wired for 78 playback; and I’m sure that the famous Pierrot lunaire, in which he plays under René Leibowitz, must have been recorded by Classic, as were Berg’s Chamber Concerto, also conducted by Leibowitz (both can now be heard on a Japanese Green Door CD), and other works of the Second Viennese School.

Thing is, I’ve found no Classic issue of this Vivaldi Op.10 LP – although it has been confused with a slightly later Vox recording by Rampal and Froment, which was reissued by Tecval on a budget Tuxedo Music CD. And no Classic issue of Pierrot seems to be documented, either. Who now owns the Classic catalogue, anyway, which is stuffed of fascinating and important, pioneering recordings (we need a Classic discography)? It could be Universal Music France – but then you might expect this to have turned up in Accord’s 8-CD box of early concerto recordings by Rampal (get it and its companion chamber music box – they’re both fabulous). Maybe no one owns it… In which case, could Decca here in Britain be sitting on the only reliably locatable (copy) master tape?

Sorry, I’ve been rabbiting on, and it’s time to cut to the recording itself (6 fully tagged mono FLACs, in a .rar file, here). As soon as I put it on, I knew it was a good ’un, despite the technical problems. These include very audible pre-echo, edits, drop-outs (of which the worst is at 2:21-ish in Concerto No.2) and a high hum. The second movement of Concerto No.6 has been scalped (4:05); and the balance is unrealistic, with the flute close enough for us to hear a lot of key-work and pad-smacks - and the harpsichord’s even closer. I’m too lazy to download the score but I’m sure I hear misreadings here and there (at 4:27 in No.2, is that really the right note at the top of the upward phrase?); and in places Veyron-Lacroix slightly over-elaborates the continuo, at one point adding Dart-like canonic responses to the flute part.

Felsted L 89003 back

[For some reason, the sleeve bills Concerto No.3,
‘Il Cardellino’ (or ‘Gardellino’, ‘The Goldfinch’),
as being in G, when it’s in D – isn’t it?]

But the vitality and freshness (and, in No.5, tender delicacy) of everyone’s playing more than make up for all that. And I like being able to hear Rampal clearly, since his virtuosity is so breath-taking, debonair and well suited to the music. In October 1954, The Gramophone rightly praised Rampal but was a little sniffy about the ensemble’s ‘stinginess in numbers’ and ‘prosaic … style’ (incidentally, why was de Froment not credited as conductor? Maybe he didn’t?). To me, now, the ensemble’s small size and ‘prosaic’ playing sound prophetic, a reminder that performance practices varied more in the past than melioristic accounts of the 1970s & ’80s baroque boom would have us believe. And we can only know that by hearing these old records.

So: national libraries of the world, unite and dig this stuff out from under the dogs in the mangers; you have nothing to lose but simplistic conceptions of the past. I’m not suggesting that record company archives should be expropriated. But what if, instead of collecting mainly pressed discs (test and published), national libraries and archives were allowed to remaster the unloved, forgotten productions of their countries’ record labels, so that music-loving readers, researchers and discographers could enjoy them (only in reading rooms or on the institutions’  intranets) free of the dirt and damage of decades, in sound which does justice to their often surprising and delightful contents?

Oh, and I almost forgot – this was the first complete recording of Op.10 and it includes the first recordings I can trace of No.2 and No.6.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Nuper doctus, saepe dolens

Pots on terrace at night, 28-Aug-13

Once again, as so often before, I must apologise for my long silence. I suspected that finishing and submitting my thesis and finally being awarded a PhD would not make me more efficient, dynamic, proactive etc. – and I was right! Since getting the degree in July I’ve done… very little. Except: buy more 78s, LPs and CDs, a new laptop, books and DVDs and, not least, unnecessary camera gear (I have bad GAS*) – unnecessary because, as you can see, it hasn’t improved my photography. Instead, I should be buying the audio equipment I need to transfer my 78s.

To give you an idea of my accumulation of stuff, here’s the subject of this post, posed in a corner of the clutter that has increasingly taken over the Cave during the last six and a half years:

Lachrimae in front room, 3-Sep-13

Dowland Lachrimae (1604)
Schola Cantorum Basiliensis Viola da Gamba Quintet:
August Wenzinger (treble viol)
Hannelore Müller, Marianne Majer (tenor viols)
Jan Crafoord, Johannes Koch (bass viols)
Eugen Müller-Dombois (lute) 
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 1C 065-99 604
rec. date & location n/a, p.1962

This is one of the latest LPs which can scrape through Europe’s restrictive, regressive and rentier-minded revised copyright legislation. Although I wonder if it wasn’t recorded slightly earlier than the publication date stated on the sleeve: the grainy stereo sound gives off a whiff of the late 1950s which can’t be entirely due to my transcription. It’s from a much later, German Electrola pressing; the first issue was in France, on Harmonia Mundi HM30623 (mono only, I believe). The group certainly recorded one LP in France, in Paris in April 1958 (also, as far as I know, issued only in mono, on Erato LDE 3083, which I have and hope to transfer and share). On the other hand, this sleeve credits WDR’s Alfred Krings as producer, so maybe I’m talking rubbish. Still, if it was recorded in Germany, does anyone know why wasn’t it issued there (or in stereo) until 1978?

It’s less strange than regrettable that this LP has never been reissued on CD, since I reckon it was the first complete and ‘proper’ recording of that masterpiece of English consort music, Lachrimae. Earlier efforts were either incomplete (a pity, in the case of Dennis Nesbitt’s fine but slightly abridged disc, which I transferred and shared elsewhere some years ago) or monkeyed about with (much as I admire Thurston Dart, I still don’t understand why he recorded early consort music, including Lachrimae, using quasi-orchestral forces). Here, we have the ensemble which I find best suited to this music, a five-part viol consort with lute.

And not just any old ensemble: a group of true pioneers, whose director had been recording Baroque ensemble music on period instruments since the 1930s. August Wenzinger badly needs a biographer – shockingly, the SCB makes little of him on its website, though it does have a special room in its library named after him and his colleague Ina Lohr (what’s in it?). I was lucky enough to meet not only Wenzinger but also the wonderful Marianne Majer and Hannelore Müller, all three at the latter’s house outside Basle, not long before Wenzinger’s death in 1996 (I’m not sure if the others are still alive). I must write about that experience some other time, or you’ll never get through this post.

Now, while I respect and admire Wenzinger for his achievements and legacy, here his tuning and tone are occasionally a little off, to my ears; and, like many of his recorded performances, this might at first strike you as a little dry and uninvolved – Nesbitt’s recording was notably more expressive. Although Lachrimae is recorded complete, I would have liked all repeats. Still, there’s more than enough evidence here of the Swiss group’s deep love of and absorption in what is one of my favourite works of any genre, time or country. If you’d like to know more about Lachrimae – much more, about its content, context, prehistory and reception and everything else you can think of – you simply must read Peter Holman’s slim, superb monograph in the Cambridge Music Handbooks series.

Front room, 11-Aug-13

“You never know when it might come in handy…”

The more I listened to this neglected record, the more I enjoyed it. And I listened a lot – I nearly went mad cleaning up the LP. That’s the trouble with stereo, you see – not only does it not benefit from the magical noise-reduction effect of monoing, there are individual nasties on each groove wall, which have to be hunted down and dealt with separately (that is, if ClickRepair hasn’t already done it). This recording is also closely miked (unlike the swimmy ones DHM would soon make in the Cedar Hall of the Fugger family seat, Schloss Kirchheim), picking up frequent touches of bows and fingers on strings – which are often hard to tell from vinyl clicks and pops. The close perspective doesn’t do the playing style many favours, either, helping the fairly constant vibrato to muddy the sound. Other problems remain, such as occasional slight drop-outs (not surprising, since this LP was mastered from a 20-year old tape) and audible edits.

This post has also taken me much longer than usual because I had serious problems uploading the files to my storage site. I’ve had a free account there since 2008 and rarely had any trouble uploading my transfers. But when I tried to upload this a couple of weeks ago, absolutely nothing worked. The site’s opaque and misleading error messages made me think its policies had changed and I needed to start paying – so I did (there was a special offer). Well, whad’ya know? Still couldn’t upload anything, not even the smallest image or a message to Customer Support.

After a long call to the US (friendly enough, despite the standard
‘Switch everything off and on again’), it dawned on me that my ISP is to blame. Grumpy emails are often labelled as luncheon meat by other ISPs’ servers, if not bounced back, since my company is apparently black-listed as hosting real purveyors of such viands. Which? recently reported that it enjoys a ‘Customer score’ of 47%. And my upload speed? 0.5 Mbps, which amazed my Customer Support person. Sure enough, when I went to a fellow-collector’s cave, I was able to upload the files via his internet connection without a problem. I’ll be switching soon. Ideally, I’d like to switch countries - notoriously, Britain’s broadband provision is among the worst in Europe, never mind everything else that’s wrong with it.

Anyway, download the 21 stereo, fully-tagged FLAC files, in 2 .rar archives, from here and here.

Broken vase in front room, 13-Sep-13

Fools are everywhere…

*GAS = Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Forgive them, Father, for they have not a clue…

Front room, M8   Hexanon 50mm 1.2, 17-Aug-12 [largest]

A corner of the Cave
(snapped by Grumpy, with his lovely new lens…)

William Byrd
Music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book
Fritz Neumeyer (harpsichord)
Archiv 13 026 AP (rec. 24 & 25 May 1954)

Once again, many apologies for my long silence. I’ve been finishing a certain pressing task – which, I’m glad to say, is finally done: last week, I sent off my thesis to be printed and bound, for submission to the examiners. They now have 8 weeks, poor chaps, to read all >ahem!< 86,184 words (not including footnotes or appendices)…

While I was desperately trying to focus my thoughts, I found myself craving mostly modern music: Birtwistle, Berio, Boulez, Dufourt, Grisey, Haas, Ligeti, Stockhausen, and I forget who else… plus a lot of Stravinsky, as ever: I finally learned to love his Concertino, for instance, thanks to a cracking DG disc of his shorter pieces, superbly performed by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

We also spent two weeks in New York, where we witnessed Hurricane Sandy, and I was lucky enough to meet fellow-blogger Squirrel. He and his marvellous mate received me most hospitably, plying me with tea and delicious home-baked cookies. Their Nest is in a fascinating neighbourhood, which Squirrel guided me round most informatively. Then we went to a concert of Scottish and English viol music and songs, ravishingly performed by New York-based viol consort Parthenia, with the counter-tenor Ryland Angel. I see they’re repeating it this coming Tuesday (14 January) in Greenwich Village, at St. Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson Street – do go if you can!

So, no time for LP transfers (though I’ve been buying 78s aplenty). Also, my ‘main’ PC suddenly died, disrupting my audio workflow; and my new hobby (photography – bad, for a spendthrift like me) demands that I invest in some new hardware, for digital image-processing. So I’ve  got to do some techy research before I take the plunge. One thing I can tell you right now, though, and for free: I’m not touching Windows 8.

Still, I have some transfers on the stocks, so, in homage to Squirrel and Parthenia, here’s one to tide us over until I get back into those grooves. (Also, we’re away in New Zealand until early February.) Not the greatest harpsichord playing, but it is one of the earliest LPs devoted entirely to Byrd’s keyboard music I know of. The best performance here, for me, is of The Bells.

1 Praeludium to the Fancie [BK12]; Fantasia [BK13]
2 Fortune My Foe, Farewell Delight [BK6]
3 The Bells [BK38]
4 The Third Pavian [BK14]
5 Galliard in D 'Sol Re' [BK53]
6 An Almane [BK89]
7 La Volta [BK91]

The 7 mono, fully tagged FLAC files are in a .rar archive, here.

So what’s with the the title of this post? Well, a kind visitor to the Cave just alerted me to the fact that another harpsichord LP, of the same vintage (Jean-Claude Chiasson playing Couperin on Lyrichord), has become the first of Grumpy’s droppings to fall foul of the censors: it is now marked ‘©  This file is copyrighted and cannot be shared’. They’re wrong, actually, but never mind.

The large record companies have lost the plot so completely, that I’m almost past caring. Though it made me very cross when I saw an upload by Discobole, of orchestral music by Chabrier conducted by Jean Fournet – in 1952, for goodness’ sake –, blocked with the message,
‘Permission Denied. Not provided by submitter by Not provided by submitter can be downloaded from one of these fine retailers.’
I can’t work out if the lack of a modern commercially available alternative was down to the ignorance of the sad snitch who grassed Discobole up, or of the company which supposedly ‘owns’ Fournet’s recording (it doesn’t: the LP entered the public domain about ten years ago, which is why Naxos has been able to reissue it).

Something similar happened to an upload by Damian, of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and Serenade conducted by Franz André, but that time the message was along the lines of, ‘Buy this from Orinoco, played by the False Claims Orchestra on the Lobbyist label’. I have absolutely no time for piracy but this is not it. The sheer bad faith and idiocy of this procedure are breath-taking. Grumpy is getting grumpier by the hour.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Le retour de Madame Guerre… plus Grumpy


L'Oiseau-Lyre OL 50183 cover [small]

Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre
(Not) Complete Harpsichord Works
Louis-Nicolas Clérambault
Premier livre de pièces de clavecin, 1704
Thurston Dart (harpsichord by Thomas Goff)
L’Oiseau-Lyre  OL 50183 (p. 1959)

Once again, apologies for the long silence. Good news: I’ve more or less finished the thesis! It means I can at last bring you some of the many intriguing LPs I’ve bought recently. I’m also itching to transfer several rare and fascinating 78s. But they’ll have to wait until I hook up the varispeed turntable, buy some suitable styli and a proper pre-amp and, most importantly, a record-washing machine. A couple of LPs have proved too grubby even for Grumpy and will need the kind of treatment Matron used to mete out to us after games.

But I knew very quickly this’d be a good ’un – and so it is, except for one very odd fault and another not so odd. As the Gramophone reviewer put it: ‘The record is unfortunately marred by a persistent technical fault—a kind of rumbling or roaring noise which is only too audible through the delicate sounds of the harpsichord. I am inclined to think that this is caused not by some external nuisance such as traffic, but by some mechanical or electronic failing in the recording equipment used.’

Actually, it only mars about 4 minutes of one suite; but another is afflicted with a different and deliberate defect. More on both problems below. Otherwise, the recording is close but not oppressive, crisp and clear. In fact it mirrors the playing of Thurston Dart and admirably suits his instrument. Mind you, good though Dart is, there’s a slight feeling of him translating a foreign idiom, although he manages some lilting notes inégales. He does a of lot of colouring-in with stops; and he betrays a hint of the 1950s ‘sewing-machine’ aesthetic in the often unrelenting way he zips through phrases and paragraphs.

I was a bit unfair in my title listing: this LP was issued in 1959, well before Mme Jacquet de la Guerre’s first keyboard book, of four suites, was rediscovered in the 1980s. The fifth and sixth suites here make up her Pièces de clavecin qui peuvent se jouer sur le viollon (1707). The first is in d minor and was recorded by Dart in this order: La Flamande (with Double)—Courante (with Double)—Rigaudons I & II—Gigues I (with Double) & II—Chaconne. The second suite, in G major, is more conventionally laid out: Allemande—Courante—Sarabande—Menuet—Rondeau. It’s inventive, striking, instantly memorable music, which I’ve enjoyed several times while getting this transfer ready.

At first, I thought Clérambault was prettier and slighter but he’s grown on me, with some notably expressive moments.  The grave, unmeasured preludes of each suite are especially fine, and well handled by Dart, though one minuet gets too jaunty for Grumpy. The first suite is in C major: Prélude—Allemande (with Double)—Courante—Sarabandes I & II—Gavotte (with Double)—Gigue—Menuets I & II (en rondeau). The second suite is in c minor: Prélude—Allemande—Courante—Sarabande—Gigue. The Allemande is superb, gruffly eloquent in Dart’s well-chosen registration, if a little stiff, but just what this repertoire is all about.

How remarkable that the long tradition of the clavecinistes, which I can imagine at first seems either arid, desiccated, formal, hermetic and frenchified, or pretty, precious, repetitious, inconsequential and … frenchified, is in fact so varied, personal and rewarding.  (I use ‘frenchified’ as an imaginary term of chauvinistic abuse, uttered by an 18th Century British philistine. But there are plenty of 21st Century British philistines.)

But be prepared for a rude shock in the Allemande of Jacquet de la Guerre’s suite in G. To simulate a piano repeat of the opening section, the engineer cranked the level back, a cheat they were wont to use in the 1950s. Something similar but less extreme seems to happen in the Sarabande, too. That’s nothing compared to what afflicts Clérambault’s first suite: from 3:25, some sort of electronic induction sets off a low, wandering buzz, which maunders on, like a dyspeptic theremin at Dart’s elbow, for 4 minutes and 8 seconds. It’s less noticeable on speakers than on headphones. My good friend Jolyon gallantly removed as much of it as he could but, being the ingrate that I am, I present it here untreated – except for the usual light Daviesification (o, bless his name!) (and Jolyon’s).

Download Jacquet de la Guerre’s suites as two mono, fully tagged FLACs in a .rar here.

Download Clérambault’s suites as two mono, fully tagged FLACs in a .rar here.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cape with Good Hope (8 Down, 1 To Go!)

EMS 213 cover

Josquin 14 secular chansons
Pro Musica Antiqua, dir. Safford Cape
EMS 213 (rec. autumn 1950, Brussels)

On Thursday 26th April, I finished the penultimate chapter of my PhD thesis, which is the main thing that’s been keeping me from posting more coprolites from the Cave. Chapter 8 is three times longer than it should be and has taken me months to write, rather than the mere weeks I’d projected. Oh well, I’ve learned a lot in the process. Now I just need to re-read it plus the preceding seven, all 320 pages, before I tackle what I’ve been dreading – the final chapter, with my supposed ‘conclusions’. My main conclusion is, I don’t know what to conclude!

As a tiny celebration (and distraction), here is one of the too many LPs I’ve bought recently. In fact, I already had two copies of this lovely disc but they looked too beaten up to dub – it’s hard to tell, as they’re pressed on red vinyl, which is pretty but doesn’t show scratches or dirt. I’m trying to collect as many records of this great group as I can. I’ve just bought a couple more good uns, so we could be in for a Cape bonanza.

This record is remarkable in several ways. First, remember that in 1950 devoting an entire LP to one prehistoric composer was seriously avant-garde. Second, the sleeve carries detailed information on the music and performances, texts and translations, although not, oddly, the group’s line-up (singers of solo items are credited). Third, and most important, these are really fine performances, which present the wonderful music simply, seriously, and with complete conviction. The famous and glorious Deploration on the death of Ockeghem is here - I’ve never enjoyed it as much. Also deeply moving are Malheur me bat (which spawned several parody masses) and Incessamment mon povre cueur lamente, the latter sung with noble dolour by the great Jeanne Deroubaix. I really like the instrumentals, too – the close miking brings the gently raspy, gutty, hairy sounds into sharp focus and creates an atmosphere of intimacy and concentration – no hey-nonny-nonsense here.

The recording struggles a bit with some of the vocal numbers, though that could also be wear on my copy. Or my arm, which I never rebalance, as I should. Still, it’s come up pretty well. I see that in 1961 Archiv issued an LP devoted to Josquin, with a mass and some of the same chansons, performed by Pro Musica – but they must be re-recordings, as it was also issued in stereo (APM 14171, SAPM 198171) and I don’t believe Archiv went in for fake stereo (does anyone have it or know?). By the way, I’ve not checked if modern musicology still thinks all this is by Josquin.

Download the 14, fully tagged mono FLAC files, plus my not very good but legible scan of the back of the sleeve (my stupid A3 scanner has a chamfered border round the platen which just prevents LP covers from lying flat!), in a .rar file, here.

Tomorrow, Sunday 29th April, Jolyon and I are off to sell some 78s and LPs at the Croydon Record Fair – and probably buy far too many as well! See you there?

ADDENDUM: Listening again, I’ve remembered that the levels as originally mastered are a bit all over the place: the first  item, an instrumental, is too high compared to the vocal number which follows; several vocals sound a bit low. But I haven’t altered any levels. Also, if it had been up to me I would have ended the disc with the Deploration rather than Basiez-moi. But there you go, I’m sure Ockeghem would have agreed that life must go on, eh?

CORRIGENDUMDIDUMDIDUM: Doltishly, I included earlier versions of two files in the .rar; these both have ‘OLD’ in the file-name. The only difference from the newer versions is that I hadn’t faded out the residual surface noise at the end of one, which closes side 1, or faded it in at the start of the next, which opens side 2 with rather more noise. Sic errat Grumpius.

Friday, 6 April 2012

No sewing-machine here!

Sewing shop, Lumix LC1, 6-Apr-12

Domenico Scarlatti 8 Essercizi per gravicembalo
Eliza Hansen
(‘Christophori’ model harpsichord by Neupert)
Archiv 13 001 (rec. 22 & 23 October 1953)

Apologies, I’ve had this on the stocks for some time, but I’ve been grumpier than usual. Also, I’ve become self-defeatingly perfectionist about my transfers; I’ve done several interesting LPs that I just don’t feel are good enough to inflict on you. What I’d have been quite happy with, some months ago, now sounds hummy, crackly, distorted or dull.

No danger of that here, though – what a sparkling gem of a disc! I was walking to our little Lidl this morning (their trout fillets smoked with juniper berries are the best) when I passed one of our other locals – the sewing supplies shop, where I buy embroidering wool for Ma Grumpy. A wonderful time-warp.

It reminded me to post this disc – as a counter-example. All right, the Neupert. A little metronomic rigidity, perhaps, yes. I see Lionel Salter called it stolid; I think that’s going too far. It’s not auto-pilot, sewing-machine playing. I get the strong feeling Hansen is seeing through the notes to the gestures – and relishing the fabulous, free-wheeling writing.

I’d never heard Hansen before – do read the short biog on wikipedia.de (link above), she’s obviously an important and interesting figure. I’m on the hunt for her other Archiv disc – annoyingly, I bought a copy recently but on receiving it found it was mono. That’s the trouble with those ARC-prefixed US pressings – you can’t tell from the number which mode it’s in (or have I missed something?). Though the dealer should have said, frankly.

8 mono, fully-tagged FLACs, in a .rar file, here.

P.S.: Please all visit Jolyon’s new blog, Fluff on the Needle!

Archiv-13-001-front_thumb1