Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Elgar Remastered unissued rarities released on SOMM

New from SOMM Records, specialists in British music, Elgar Remastered, valuable pressings from Sir Edward Elgar's personal library.It contains hitherto unheard discs, virtually the complete 1928 studio sessions of the Cello Concerto with Beatrice Harrison as well as many unused takes of major orchestral works and famous miniatures. Above the famous photograph of Elgar and Harrison in the studio in 1919.  Now you can hear them in a new, clean  remastering by Lani Spahr, using originals from the collection of  Arthur Reynolds, Chairman of the North American Branch of the Elgar Society, which has been described as an "Aladdin's Cave" of rare and unpublished material.

Indeed, there are no less than eight versions of the Cello  Concerto in this set, from previously unissued takes and private recordings. Elgar was fascinated by recording technology and very much "hands on" in the studio, so this is an opportunity for Elgar devotees to study the process.  There are   detailed notes and musical examples by cellist Terry King, who compares the Cello Concerto's earlier 1919 recording with Beatrice Harrison to her later 1928 recording with some fascinating insights into each, regarding cuts by the composer, choice of tempi and differences in performance.

Most of Elgar's early recordings are included, acoustically optimized   Some are well known, such as The Prelude to the Kingdom, but acoustically optimized, and some never before available, like the alternative takes of Symphony no 1 (never previously available)  and 2. Caractacus and the entire Violin Concerto. Many obscure rarities and miniatures are included, too, making this SOMM set a collector's treasure trove.  Elgar Remastered is now available for preorder direct from SOMM or on amazon.

SOMM Records gives more detail of the remastering : "Reynolds' collection. This valuable collection included copies of all Elgar's recordings which he had conducted for HMV from 1914 to 1933. It all began when Lani persuaded the late Fred Maroth, owner of Music & Arts to allow him to prepare new transfers of Elgar's acoustic recordings riginally issued by Pearl on seven LPs, c. 1975 and later on CD. In Lani's view, while a valuable document, they left much to be desired considering the large advances in audio processing which had taken place in the intervening years. In 2011 Music & Arts issued Elgar conducts Elgar. The complete acoustic recordings 1914-1925 with Lani's transfers from Arthur's (and Elgar's) discs. In addition to the published HMV discs in Arthur's possession, there were also six sides of unpublished takes from the Wand of Youth Suites and these existed as test pressings that Elgar had kept"

"After finishing the acoustic recordings (Spahr) asked Arthur if he could be allowed to digitise the electric recordings for archival purposes. Among the first group Lani brought to his studio was the 1928 recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto with Beatrice Harrison as soloist. Arthur had a set of published HMV discs with her signature plus several boxes of test pressings. From this he discovered that there was nearly a complete set of takes from the two sessions in which the Concerto was set down. Whilst excited at the prospect of issuing several different versions, all taken from alternative takes, Lani became confused with the matrix numbering. He discovered that for the same material indicated by a suffix number, (e.g. CRI 1754-2) there was another matrix number, CRI 1754-2A. After a cursory listen he found that both these seemed identical! It wasn't until he listened to the Naxos recording of Elgar's Enigma Variations, Cockaigne Overture etc. engineered by Mark Obert-Thorn that he came across a Bonus Track of the Cockaigne Overture in "Accidental Stereo". The explanatory note referred to the frequent habit of engineers having two turntables running during the cutting of wax recording master discs, presumably for back-up purposes and in several instances even two different microphones, one to feed each turntable. Without going into further detail here, (Spahr's booklet notes give full explanations), Lani discovered that various HMV sessions were possibly recorded with a completely separate microphone/cutter arrangement. "

"We now not only have an insight into the sessions themselves but are also provided with astonishing sound, revealing a new depth not only to the existing issued recordings, but to new performances of various miniatures and, more importantly, the Cello Concerto and Symphony No. 1 assembled from previously unheard test pressings. We can only be thankful to Lani for his remarkable talent, tenacity and restless, searching spirit which allows us to appreciate anew these unique performances in sound unimaginable to Elgar and those who made the recordings more than 80 years ago."

1 comment:

kenpat said...

A delightful surprise and something to look forward to at the endo of the month.