The Living Presence Tchaikovsky Suites

by Harold Lawrence

 

 

When the first complete recording of Tchaikovsky's Four Orchestral Suites with Antal Dorati conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra was issued in 1968 critics in America and Europe hailed it as a sort of a "revelation." All of these works were composed in the years between the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies -in Tchaikovsky's prime of life. But the discographic neglect of these attractive scores seemed incomprehensible to us when Antal Dorati and I met to discuss ideas for our next round of Mercury sessions in 1965. Record producers are always on the lookout for unusual repertoire. And recording an important body of rediscovered works by the great Peter Ilyich seemed a first-rate idea.

Mercury at that time was part of the Philips Group and had Dorati under exclusive contract. And when I submitted the Tchaikovsky proposal to both Chicago and Baarn, Holland-which were headquarters for Mercury and Philips respectively-I received the green light.

But first a little about the music.

The Marche miniature from Orchestral Suite No. 1 is scored unconventionally for woodwinds, triangle and glockenspiel. Sounding a bit like something from the"Nutcracker Ballet" it is like so many of these movements -- they are close relatives of Tchaikovsky's great ballet scores.

Except for the Fourth Suite, which is an arrangement of a group of mostly Mozart pieces, the first three Suites are symphonic in length -- and the entire album occupies six full LP sides.

It was to be an ambitious project.

I selected a team of Dutch engineers to work with, specified the equipment I needed, and booked Watford Town Hall, outside of London, for the sessions. In New York, I invited the late record critic, James Lyons, to write the program annotations (or liner notes as record people call them) and sent him the first test pressings. Lyons telephoned me a few days later to report that he had been playing the opening bars of the Divertimento from the First Suite for friends and asked them to identify the music. The guesses almost invariably included the wrong century, the wrong country and the wrong composer - as often as not Aaron Copland - which says something for the incipient modernism of Tchaikovsky. Perhaps it was the opening clarinet solo that threw them off the scent. But the Divertimento also evokes dance images from Tchaikovsky ballets and the Scherzo from the First Suite contains another foretaste of the Nutcracker Ballet, which was written fourteen years later. According to an English record reviewer, the Gavotte, from the First Suite, which closes the work, may have given Prokofiev the idea for orchestrating the start of the Triumphal March from Peter and the Wolf .

 

The orchestra performing these Suites -- the New Philharmonia -- was one of no less than five major symphony orchestras in London. Of the five London ensembles (the London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra and BBC Symphony Orchestra), four were cooperative, self-governing organizations; only the BBC Symphony was a "contract" orchestra.

Perhaps this self-governing nature accounts for the bizarre incident that took place during the New Philharmonia recording of the Orchestral Suites.

The red light went on in the hall and over the loudspeaker came the announcement of the next take calling for an insert of the final sixteen bars of the score. Antal Dorati lifted his arms, waited for silence, but no downbeat followed. Instead a gray-haired 'cellist got up from his seat, began rolling down his shirt sleeves, and said: "I'm going home." Dorati, normally articulate and extremely voluble, could think of nothing to say, but "Why?" Buttoning his shirt collar, the cellist replied, "Because I am not a machine." He then took his 'cello and bow in one hand and his jacket in the other and stalked from the hall, drawing a chorus of boos and hisses from his colleagues. A heated argument followed in the Car Park outside the hall between the orchestral manager and the wildcat 'cellist, but the latter refused to return. It was an open secret that the player, a valued member of the self-governed English orchestra, had walked out three times before during the current season. The apparent reason for the' cellist's abrupt exit was that the ensemble in the previous takes was untidy and Dorati was proceeding to correct the passage in his usual efficient and energetic manner. The rest of the orchestra approved Dorati's meticulous attention to detail and balance. They understood why he had called for the re-takes. But it proved to be a bit too much for one player. The associate principal 'cellist took over and the session continued without further interruption; fortunately with no loss of artistic quality.

 

 

Sadly, Tchaikovsky missed the first performance of his Second Orchestral Suite. The night before, his opera Mazeppa had been given its premiere in Moscow. It was not a great success and a despondent Peter Ilyich fled to Western Europe the very next day. He should have remained in Moscow: the Second Suite was spectacularly successful -- the work received glowing reviews. You might ask why symphony orchestras nowadays seldom program the Orchestral Suites. One reason may be that, although they contain a wealth of melodic invention and are magnificently scored, they are rather informal,, loosely constructed works. But nothing should prevent conductors from extracting movements from them. One I would strongly recommend strongly recommend for inclusion in a "Pops" concert is the Scherzo burlesque. This is an astonishing work, reminiscent of Stravinsky's Petrouchka in its folk-like atmosphere. For good Russian measure, Tchaikovsky added four accordions to the orchestration. (It can be done with one for budgetary reasons.) We had a difficult time locating four accordionists who could read music - even in London. But it was worth the effort. The Waltz from the Second Suite easily ranks with Tchaikovsky's more famous waltzes from Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker and the Serenade for Strings. And what a magical introduction Tchaikovsky has written for it for it seems to float into view out of nowhere

 

 

The Third Suite contains music that is familiar to general audiences: the Theme and Variations, featuring a lengthy violin solo, played in this recording by the then concertmaster of the New Philharmonia Orchestra, Hugh Bean. One of a producer's joys in recording Tchaikovsky is the composer's always fascinating orchestration and especially his use of woodwinds. In this movement -- a Theme with eleven Variations capped by a brilliant and majestic Polonaise-Finale -- two of the variations feature winds prominently: the third and the seventh.

These movements from the complete recording of Tchaikovsky's Orchestral Suites with Antal Dorati conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra were recorded more than thirty-five years ago in London and released in U.S. in 1968 as Mercury Living Presence OL 3-118 or SR 3-9018. They were also re-released on Mercury Golden Imports as SRI 3 -77008.

 

 

Some technical notes

This recording was made with three ultra-sensitive microphones designed and built for Philips by the renowned German audio engineer, Schoeps. In producing this recording, I had set the microphones to an omni-directional pattern and placed them along the frontal area of the orchestra at heights ranging from 8 to 12 feet. The seats in Watford Town Hall had been removed from the auditorium and placed in adjoining rooms and corridors. Winds and brass were placed on risers. With the abundance of hard wood surfaces and the hall's smooth reverberation (no audible peaks), we were able to achieve a remarkable transparency of texture and presence in this three-channel recording.

 

copyright 2002 Harold Lawrence, RECOLLECTIONS

Bean, Lawrence, Dorati photo copyright 2002 by Mary Morris Lawrence

 

 

 

 

 

Some Period Reactions

In a 1968 High Fidelity the reviewer L.C. offers of the Mercury Living Pesence production; "That Tchaikovsky's four orchestral suites have stayed relatively unplayed and unrecorded is, I suppose, a tribute to the persistent status of symphonic form. Though his last three symphonies may average out to better listening than the suites, it certainly is not that much better. There are movements in the present works all written in the period between the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies-that show the composer in his fullest command of orchestral tone and rhetoric. The fact is underlined by Dorati's vivid approach to the music, by the Philharmonia's responsive playing, and above all by Mercury's sumptuous sound. There are, to be sure, a few notably dull stretches, such as the variation movement of the Fourth, Mozartiana suite. Mozart himself had, of course, a far narrower color range to work with than Tchaikovsky, and was perhaps no better a melodist; but his absolute economies as a variegator served him better than reams of sugarplum orchestration. However, the waltz from the Second Suite, for instance, seems at least as appealing as the Sleeping Beauty or Nutcracker specimens, though the freshness is probably in its favor. And the Elegia and Valse Melancolique from the third anticipate the Pathetique's luxuriant despair. Indeed, none but the most obdurate heart can fail to admire the splendid affinities between Tchaikovsky's and this album's gifts of sonority. And over and over again, during the nineteen movements of these suites, we are forced to face facts: no composer, in winning a listener's ear, has better understood the sheer strategy of instrumentation-including such niceties as the special uses of pizzicato, or when to double strings and woodwinds as against leaving them alone. Even some bits of technicolor counterpoint are impressive."

And writing in the March, 1968 Musical Times, David Lloyd-Jones observes of the Philips release; "It is not difficult to see why the four Tchaikovsky suites have never established themselves in the concert hall; their symphonic length is hardly justified by any corresponding formal or programmatic structure or by a unity of mood, and none of them can be considered wholly acceptable as an entity. The Third is probably the most satisfactory if only because it contains the fewest movements (four) and is rounded off by the facile yet perennially attractive Theme and Variations. Nevertheless the First and Second Suites contain better music and are far more representative of Tchaikovsky at his best. The First Suite has six movements, of which the first, with its Manfred-like introduction, the second, and fourth (the miniature march which is sometimes played separately) stand out as the most attractive. The Second is only let down by its weak fifth movement otherwise it contains some of Tchaikovsky's most enjoyable music-the delicate and faintly elegiac 'Jeu de sons', the balletic waltz, the scherzo burlesque with its four optional accordions and Petrushka-like trio and, above all, the touching 'Rives d'enfant' . . . . [Sadly] Mozartiana remains the white elephant . . . . Philips's decision to record all four suites, then was an admirable one, and it is cheering to think that these discs will help to reveal some intermittently first-rate mature Tchaikovsky to listeners unaware of this aspect of his work. The performances never fall below a high standard of adequacy and indeed, as far as the Third and Fourth Suites are concerned leave very little to be desired. Regrettably it is in the finest, most characteristic music (which is to say the best of the first two suites) that Dorati's limitations as a Tchaikovsky conductor become apparent. . . . [But] the New Philharmonia play with their customary brilliance and assurance and the extremely difficult scherzo of the Third Suite is an absolute tour de force on the part of orchestra and conductor alike. Although it does not favour quiet playing the recording is generally admirable. On balance, then, [it is] a set that should be welcomed for its highly accomplished presentation of such underestimated music, but which (as far as the first two suites are concerned) still leaves the field open for more authoritative and sympathetic interpretations."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Symphonies and Snowflakes

by Harold Lawrence

The first of thirteen recording sessions with Eduardo Mata and the London Symphony Orchestra coincided with the onslaught of what meteorologists described as London's coldest and snowiest weather in 31 years. All forms of transportation collapsed in one form or another; there were widespread power failures; the actors in the musical, Oh, Calcutta, at the Nell Gwynne Theater refused to perform the nude scenes because of the cold; and even Big Ben stopped chiming briefly when its tower clock stuck.

All Saints Church, Tooting (South London), the site of the recording, resembled the inside of one of those glass-ball paperweights with snowflakes whirling around. Only a handful of musicians managed to get to the church on time at 10:30 am. They arrived with tales of stalled suburban trains, frozen Diesel tanks on the highway, and cars that couldn't make it out of their own driveways. Recording engineer Bob Auger, however, had taken the precaution of installing and testing his equipment in the church the night before, and it was as warm as toast when we arrived the following morning, with none of the usual electronic gremlins that have been known to plague recordists in severe wintry conditions.

Like most large churches, Tooting's reverberation period is well over two seconds at 1000 Hz, but unlike most of its counterparts, it has an extremely smooth decay. On first hearing, however, it would seem better suited to Bruckner masses or Franck tone poems than to the symphonies of Carlos Chavez, whose orchestral landscape is filled with percussion and passages marked in rapid, sometimes breakneck, tempi. Veteran recording engineer Auger (my collaborator in several recording projects with the LSO in the 1970's, including a series of albums with the late Jascha Horenstein conducting) had supervised many sessions in Tooting and learned to tame the church's acoustics, achieving a marvelous clarity of instrumental detail, while at the same time capturing the "bloom" so essential to a cohesive orchestral sound.

 

On a strictly musical plane, Eduardo Mata also adjusted quickly to the acoustics of the church, making subtle alterations in tempi and releases to achieve greater clarity. Totally at ease in the recording environment, he was familiar with session procedure through his previous digital recordings with the Dallas Symphony and the London Symphony. A regular guest conductor with the London Symphony, Mata has achieved a special rapport with his British colleagues. It was for this reason that he selected the LSO for the task of recording the complete symphonies of Carlos Chavez. These powerful scores call for near-virtuoso playing from almost every section of the orchestra. Violins climb to stratospheric heights in strenuous 16th note passages and high-wire harmonics; double basses invade the treble clef, reaching two F-sharps above middle C in Symphony No. 5; the E-flat clarinet plays a melody spanning three octaves with wide intervallic leaps in the Third Symphony (Finale), a passage that makes advanced post-Schoenberg orchestral writing seem like child's play; the timpanist engages in a fugal dialogue with other instruments towards the conclusion of the Scherzo movement of the Third Symphony, and the brass are required to play staccato triplets at high speeds in the first movement of the Sixth Symphony. The musicians of the LSO took personal pride in seeing that the recording went well, crowding into the control room at playbacks, practicing finger-twisting passages during breaks, and never giving less than their full attention to each take. They had to; Chavez's demanding scores spared no player.

The members of the orchestra were seated in the normal concert arrangement: violins on the left, cellos on the right, timpani in the center behind the woodwinds, horns left of center, brass right of center, and percussion on both sides of the timpani. Two Neumann U-87 microphones housed in an SM-2 unit provided the overall center pickup, with four other U-87s as frontal "outriggers". Ten additional microphones covered horns, timpani, brass, woodwinds, harps and percussion. None of the microphones, however, was used to "telescope" the sound of instruments, as in some multi-mike recordings where too close a perspective can result in aural "zooming" in which the image of the full orchestra is replaced by a succession of instrumental details. Throughout the Chavez sessions, the pickup of the total ensemble always took precedence over any internal microphone input.

In preparation for the editing of the digital master tapes, I began the fascinating task of auditioning the hundreds of takes of the sessions already completed. I arranged to begin the editing of the analog tapes at Bob Auger's studio near Henley-on-Thames on two free days between sessions (December 13-14). Another storm was predicted-and materialized. After four hours of work, the entire countryside was blanketed by several inches of snow and buffeted by harsh winds. The power failed at 4 30 pm and remained off for the next 22 hours! Luckily, I had purchased a Sony Walkman II and a pair of lightweight Koss headphones, and I had .brought with me cassette tapes of all the previous session takes. So I remained at my work table in Auger's studio, while Bob wheeled over a gas heater and Monika (Mrs. Auger) set up three candles on the table. The Auger family's four Yorkshire Terriers huddled together in front of the heater while Monika supplied me regularly with coffee, tea, biscuits and glasses of sherry.

After watching me hunched over my Chavez scores and take sheets, headphones on, scarf round my neck, plotting edits by candlelight, Bob commented on how far recorded science had progressed in this age of space technology. Later, we listened to the BBC evening news on a battery-powered radio "The temperature in Shropshire has plunged to 23 degrees below zero, the coldest recorded in England in 100 years. .. A state of emergency has been declared in Poland... A cyclone has struck parts of Bangladesh... A terrorist bomb has exploded in Connaught Square. .. and there will be more snow." After this dismal recital, the calm BBC announcer advised listeners that "goldfish in outdoor ponds can survive only if the ice is broken to let in air, but cats and pet rabbits will freeze to death if let outdoors."

The final session concluded on the evening of December 17. At the end of 510 takes and 40 hours of recording, the musicians of the LSO applauded Eduardo Mata. Leader (concertmaster) Michael Davis rose to express and total professionalism in conducting these arduous the Orchestra's warm appreciation of Mata's dedication and inspiring sessions.

 

 

These sessions were produced as VOX CUM LAUDE 3D-VCL 9032 (c1982), the Six Symphonies of Carlos Chavez.

Information on the Six Symphonies of CARLOS CHAVEZ; taken from the catalogue of his works published by the Association of Composers, edited by Rodolfo Halffter, Mexico, 1971.

 

SINFONIA DE ANTIGONA (1933) (Symphony No. 1). Based on the incidental music for Antigone by Sophocles, adapted by Jean Cocteau. Orchestra: 3343 / 8301 / timp-3 batt / 2 arpe / archi. Premiere: December 15, 1933, Hidalgo Theater, Mexico City; Symphony Orchestra of Mexico conducted by the composer.

SINFONIA INDIA (1935) (Symphony No. 2). Orchestra: 4343 /4220/ timp-4 batt / arpa / archi. Commissioned by William S. Paley, New York, for the Concert of Mexican Music presented by the Columbia Broadcasting System. Premiere: January 23, 1936, Columbia Broadcasting System, New York; Columbia Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer.

SYMPHONY NO. 3 (1951). I. Introdozione · II. Allegro · III. Scherzo · IV. Finale. Orchestra: 3343 /4331 / timp-3 batt / arpa / archi. Commissioned by Clare Booth Luce. Premiere: December 9, 1954, Jose Angel Lamas Amphitheater, Caracas, Venezuela; Venezuela Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer.

SYMPHONY NO. 4 (1953) (Romantic). I. Allegro · II. Molto lento · III. Vivo non troppo mosso. Orchestra: 3323/4321 / timp-3 batt / archi. Commissioned by the Louisville Symphony Orchestra, Louisville, Kentucky. Premiere: February 11, 1953, Columbia Auditorium, Louisville, KY.; Louisville Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer. In its first performances, this symphony ended with a piece which is now a separate work entitled Baile (Dance); it was later substituted by the movement which is now the finale, written in October of 1953.

SYMPHONY NO. 5 (1953) (For String Orchestra). I. Allegro molto moderato · II. Molto lento · III. Allegro con brio. Orchestra: Violin I, violin 11, viola, violincello, basso. Commissioned by The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation, New York. Premiere: December 1, 1953, Royce Hall Auditorium, Los Angeles, California; Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra conducted by the composer.

SYMPHONY NO. 6 (1961). I. Allegro energico · II. Adagio molto cantabile · III. Con anima. Orchestra: 3323 /4231 / timp-2 batt / archi. Commissioned by The New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Premiere: May 7, 1964, Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center, New York; The New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

copyright Harold Lawrence, RECOLLECTIONS 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Stravinsky and Kurt Weill Records

by Harold Lawrence

 

Both Igor Stravinsky and Kurt Weill left their native countries, eventually to become American citizens. And while Weill embraced his new homeland's music with a passion, Stravinsky's creative growth was not profoundly influenced by his change of venue; apart from a few jazz-oriented works. In fact, in his later years, he had a neo-Schoenberg fling with such works as Agon and Threni.

Scherzo à la russe, while not strictly a jazz composition, was written for a "jazzy" band. Stravinsky wrote it in 1944 for a Blue Network performance by Paul Whiteman's organization, four years after he arrived in Hollywood to take up residence with his wife, Vera. However, the work is not Rhapsody-in-Blue-like; a composition that was also written for the Whiteman Band. Rather, this witty delicacy sounds like something from the composer's early years with Diaghilev.

In addition to its band arrangement, Scherzo à la russe exists as an orchestral score, and it is this version that I produced for Mercury in 1964 with Antal Dorati and the London Symphony. This was part of a marathon recording session that included Stravinsky's Song of a Nightingale, Four Études, Tango and Fireworks." All of these performances were eventually released as Mercury Living Presence MG 50387/SR 90387.

 

(These sessions took place in Watford Town Hall, London from June 22nd thru July 11th and, in addition to the Stravinsky works, produced the two Brahms 'Cello Sonatas with Janos Starker and Georg Sebok, the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations and Saint-Saëns 'Cello Concerto with Starker, Dorati and the London Symphony, and much, much more. )

 

 

Scherzo à la russe is reminiscent of Petrouchka, particularly in the crowd scenes at the fairground where the peasants are dancing to the sound of the concertina. But, thirty years earlier, Stravinsky was hard at work composing something far removed from this lighthearted piece. In all of his prolific output, no work has surpassed Rite of Spring for originality and impact. Even today, in a virtuoso performance by a great orchestra, the music still has the power to shock -- to have you sitting literally on the edge of your seat. Its influence on the history of contemporary music is enormous, and is still being felt today. Pierre Boulez said that the work "became a point of departure for a new concept of rhythm and esthetics." And Stravinsky's own comments about his work can be heard on the record included in STRAVINSKY CONDUCTS 1960-D3L 300 or D3S 614. The 1960, set presented new recordings, in mono or stereo, of Petrouchka and Rite of Spring with Stravinsky conducting the Columbia Symphony Orchestra. In the accompanying record of spoken commentary, Stravinsky tells how he came to compose Rite of Spring and gives his impressions of the riotous performance in 1913. In 1960, this historic Rite of Spring was also released as a individual LP -- Columbia Masterworks ML 5719/MS6319.

 

 

(I wonder how many conductors have studied this album while preparing for their own performances of the score.)

Kurt Weill left Germany literally with the Gestapo snapping at his heels. Hitler despised his music and sent his storm troopers into theaters in attempts to disrupt performances of Three-Penny Opera and Silbersee. After a sojourn in Paris, Weill emigrated to America and immediately moved on the Broadway scene. He wasted no time in seeking out and collaborating with some of the best writers and producers around, including Moss Hart, Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash, Maxwell Anderson, Langston Hughes and others.

There has been a steady revival of interest in Weill's music -- all of it since his death in 1950. Nonesuch Records played an important role in this revival with two world premiere recordings. The first was the opera, Silbersee (Nonesuch D-79003-2), and the second is the rediscovered Sonata for Cello and Piano (Nonesuch- D-79016 ), in a superb recording by cellist Jerry Grossman and pianist Diane Walsh. The work was written in 1920, when Weill was only 20, and reflects the influence of Schoenberg and the Impressionists. But you can still detect snatches of the later song writer here and there.

 

 

Easily one of the outstanding releases was the Nonesuch recording of theater music of Kurt Weill -- an album of 14 songs titled The Unknown Kurt Weill (Nonesuch D-79019). The soprano, Teresa Stratas, who made such a deep impression in the role of Jenny in the Metropolitan Opera's revival of Mahagonny, sings 14 songs by Weill in this new digital release, Kurt Weill's widow, Lotte Lenya, was in the audience on opening night and wrote Miss Stratas that "nobody can sing Weill's music better than you do." She offered Stratas a number of unpublished songs that she had guarded since her husband's death in 1950. The result was a New York concert in January 1980 in which these songs formed the nucleus of the program. The event attracted the interest of Jac Holzman, Nonesuch's enterprising director. Holzman lost no time in signing up Teresa Stratas and pianist Richard Woitach to commit the concert to disc

The album is a fascinating collection, spanning some 20 years. The earliest song, "Klops-Lied," is a spoof on a popular Berlin song, involving a play on words that will elude anyone who doesn't have the benefit of the program notes. Klops, in German, means both "knock" and "meatballs." Now what can you do with those words? Weill and his lyricist came up with the opening line, "Here I am sitting eating meatballs. A sudden knock." Well, . . . maybe just enjoy the song.

"Klops-Lied" was written by Kurt Weill in 1925 and is earliest song in the album. Another song, Nanna's Lied, though composed in 1939 in collaboration with Bertold Brecht, could have come directly out of Three Penny Opera. It has the same bittersweet feeling, heightened by a touch of Sprechstimme. The opening line tells the story: "Gentlemen, I was only 17 when I landed on the Love Market." Here, Teresa Stratas sounds a little like the great Lotte Lenya.

 

 

Another album song, titled "Petroleum Song," is a broadside against the oil industry of the time-1928. The song was written as incidental music for a play based on Upton Sinclair's novel, Oil. (According to the liner notes, the play, Konjunktur "dealt with the politics of industrial exploitation and the Soviet position as a competitor in the capitalist international market. [The play's author] asserted that oil was the hero of the play, and the plot centered on the struggle between Royal Dutch Shell and the Russian Naptha Syndicate to exploit the economy and hitherto peaceful residents of a primitive country where oil had been discovered." )

An example of Kurt Weill's adaptability is a song he wrote in 1934 during his Paris period. It's in French and the lyricist, Maurice Magre, was a well-known figure in the popular music of the day. The song is a typical romantic tune, called "Je ne t'aime pas." On first hearing it is not easy to identify Weill as the composer.

These songs show Kurt Weill, the Berlin composer, and Kurt Weill the French chanson writer. But in the year 1942 the war was in full swing. Oscar Hammerstein and Patriotic songs are the order of the day. Together with Howard Dietz, Weill wrote "Buddy on the Nightshift" -- a very unsubtle but effective song of its time.

"The Unknown Kurt Weill" is a priceless album. Teresa Stratas sings with total understanding of the different sides of the composer and the recording, on Nonesuch Records, ranks as one of the best digital efforts of the time.

copyright Harold Lawrence, RECOLLECTIONS 2002

 

 

 

 

Placement of the Orchestra and Microphones in a Stereo Living Presence Session

For the Watford Town Hall-Stravinsky recordings of June and July 1964, the orchestra was seated in chairs on the floor of the hall . The rear of the orchestra was 16 feet 9 inches from the hall-back and baffles were placed between the rear of the orchestra and the back of the hall -- the baffles were generally 6 feet from the hall's back. The front of the orchestra was 26 feet 1 inch from the hall-back. The left microphone was placed 39 feet from the back of the hall and 44 feet 7 inches from the hall's right wall, the center microphone was 41 feet 7 1/2 inches from the hall-back and 37 feet 4 1/2 inches from the right wall and the right microphone was 38 feet 8 inches from the back of the hall.

 

 

 

Some Watford Session Challenges

After the 1964 June-July sessions at Watford Town Hall -- while in France for a rest -- Harold Lawrence wrote to the Mercury office in New York City "By now you must have heard some of the details of the Watford catastrophes: the truck on fire, Stravinsky's veto of the program and his last-minute approval, Janis's cryptic cable, the 3-way telephone conversations (Dorati, me, the LSO librarian), Szeryng's neck infection, etc."

copyright RECOLLECTIONS 2002

 

 

return

next

To receive my monthly sales list as well as information about collectible records send your email address to ronpenndorf@earthlink.net