Saturday, 16 May 2015

Albert Sammons plays Fauré REMOVED

Staircase, Denée, 5DII   Ultron 40mm SL, 14-Aug-13

Over the last year I’ve received a few requests for access to the transfer of  Fauré’s Violin Sonata Op.13, recorded privately by Albert Sammons in 1937, which I shared and wrote about in October 2010.

I’m very sorry not to grant these requests. As I explained in an addendum to my post a few weeks later, the owner of the original discs of the Fauré, who had kindly given me the transfer to post, then gave it to Pristine Audio for further treatment and sale via the Pristine Classical website. I try not to compete with the few bone fide producers of commercial transfers of 78s who are able to stay in business in these very difficult times, so I withdrew my upload.

Pristine Classical certainly is a bona fide producer, and deserves all our support. For instance, a few months ago, during one of my periodic Stravinsky phases, I found to my joy that Pristine has transferred one of Stravinsky’s few commercial recordings which has never been reissued, his 1957 Columbia LP of Perséphone, narrated by Vera Zorina, an interesting artist with a long and varied career in ballet, film and the theatre. Perséphone is a fine and original piece, unfairly overlooked in Stravinsky’s output – so kudos to Pristine for letting us hear the composer’s first recording, which I prefer to his 1966 remake (also with Zorina). There’s an earlier, even better recording, narrated by French actress Claude Nollier and conducted by André Cluytens, especially notable for the wonderful singing of Nicolai Gedda: I keep hoping it’ll be reissued, if possible from master tapes - one for Testament, whose catalogue includes Cluytens’s exactly contemporary recording of Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol?

Pristine’s version of Sammons’ Fauré is coupled with his 1926 Columbia recording of Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata Op.47, in an album of ‘Rare and Unissued Violin Sonatas’ – and it’s priced extremely reasonably, so if you want to hear the Fauré, please support Pristine by buying it!

Thank you and, again, apologies.


  1. He is NOT a bona fide producer. He sells electronically altered copies of old recordings - if you have a genuine, faithful transfer you are not competing with him, but offering something which will not appeal to his audience; likewise his monstrous perversion will not appeal to yours.

    1. What he does may not be to everyone's taste; but he IS bona fide. He also sells less processed, mono versions of his transfers, while transfers made for him by other producers like Mark Obert-Thorn have no electronic enhancement. I'm listening to Perséphone now and there's nothing at all wrong with the transfer; but I see that a fresh transfer from original master tapes will be included in Sony's new 57-CD 'Igor Stravinsky – The Complete Columbia Album Collection', due out this week. And it's in stereo, for the first time ever, so that should put Sony's new issue hors concours - except for the annoying extent of duplication for us Stravinsky nuts.

    2. It's true that he sells less processed mono versions, but they are still electronically processed. He does two things to his recordings - he applies his so-called "XR remastering" and then he applies "ambient stereo". The mono versions don't have the latter, but they have still been subjected to the "XR remastering" which involves significant alteration of the original sound. Therefore the Sammons Fauré is not now available in what I would consider to be an honest transfer.

      Yes, I know that he also publishes good transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn, but the Sammons recording here is not one of those, it's one of Pristines's own "XR" jobs.

      I don't like the way Pristine processes recordings; at best I think it's damaging to the historical record and to the reputations of the musicians. At worst I consider it dishonest. I have no real objection to him plying his trade and satisfying his customers, but when authentic transfers are withdrawn from circulation as a result, I think it's time to speak up. Of course, your transfer is yours to deal with as you see fit. I think it's a pity though.

    3. It's not my transfer. As I explained in my original post (see above), I was allowed to share it by the owner of the discs, who then decided to allow Pristine to process and market the transfer.