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Thread: New MARIA CALLAS box set......

  1. #4711
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revitalized Classics View Post
    Hi everyone

    The reason that I'm issuing this version is that I discovered there were left/right differences when I transferred the LPs to PC. It turned out with further inspection to be narrow stereo beneath the noise! This remastering is the first time this performance will be issued in remastered stereo.
    What you suggest is a literal impossibility. The original tape was recorded by a home listener from the radio in 1955. Stereo--L/R--was only in its trial phase at some professional companies (not EMI); Decca recorded a few things (e.g., Tebaldi Traviata, Tebaldi/del Monaco Otello, Krips Don Giovanni) in experimental stereo as did RCA, but did not release them in that format until several years later; there would have been no point as listening equipment had not yet become available. It's unlikely that anyone recording off the air in Milano in 1955 even knew of stereo's existence, and stereo broadcasts didn't commence on FM (which itself was uncommon until the late 1950s) until the 1960s. If you perceive L/R in your--probably digital--source, it most likely means that it was encoded with slight differences between what should be identical channels--thus, an error. The CDs were all derived from private mono LPs from private mono home tapes, and digitization can produce all sorts of deliberate or accidental peculiarities. I'm sorry to say that, for all your noble intentions, the result, as heard here, is rather unfocused, ironically making it sound closer to the 'bad' Act I/IIi copy of the source tape than what we hear on Cetra Opera Live/Paragon/Foyer/Amplitude/AV. That there is only a single now-lost original source from which at least two copies were made, as you discovered, is shown by the fact that the same 15-second splice appears after the Brindisi in the poor-sounding Hunt/EMI as well as the better Cetra OL/Paragon/Foyer/AV. The gap is filled in most versions with Covent Garden 1958, while AV tried to stay closer to the performance at hand, using Scala 1956. Paragon LPs left the splice unfilled. In addition, the poor copy used for Hunt/EMI (Paul Baily in 1990 and Allan Ramsay in 1997 simply cloned and re-EQ'd Hunt badly for EMI) has a brief alien section right after the Preludio from an unknown source, while the copy used by Cetra OL/Paragon/Foyer/AV is integral. Even if the stereoization of Act I/IIi were successful, the ghastliness of the only source for Act IIii/III makes the project pointless. Bravo for your zeal though.
    Last edited by RES; Jun-25-2019 at 05:42.

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  3. #4712
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    Default The Callas live stereo recordings

    Quote Originally Posted by RES View Post
    What you suggest is a literal impossibility. The original tape was recorded by a home listener from the radio in 1955. Stereo--L/R--was only in its trial phase at some professional companies (not EMI); Decca recorded a few things (e.g., Tebaldi Traviata, Tebaldi/del Monaco Otello, Krips Don Giovanni) in experimental stereo as did RCA, but did not release them in that format until several years later; there would have been no point as listening equipment had not yet become available. It's unlikely that anyone recording off the air in Milano in 1955 even knew of stereo's existence, and stereo broadcasts didn't commence on FM (which itself was uncommon until the late 1950s) until the 1960s.
    I agree with RES that there is virtually no chance that Callas’s live May 28, 1955 La Scala Traviata was recorded in real stereo.

    My understanding is that only a handful of Callas live recordings were made in genuine stereo. Here’s my list:

    1) Paris Concert, June 5, 1963 (French radio broadcast)
    2) London Concert, November 26, 1973 (recorded by EMI)
    3) London Concert, December 2, 1973 (recorded by EMI)
    4) Tokyo Concert, October 12, 1974 (Japanese radio/TV)
    5) Tokyo Concert, October 19, 1974 (Japanese radio/TV)

    Ars Vocalis has done a wonderful release of the complete June 5, 1963 concert. Listen through headphones. The authentic stereo gives you a real “you are there”, almost binaural quality, of being right in the audience with Callas singing directly in front of you.

    EMI recorded both Callas/di Stefano 1973 London concerts with the idea of producing a commercial album, however, as John Ardoin has noted in The Callas Legacy “so poor was the quality of the singing that not enough material could be salvaged to make up a single disc” (p. 202, 4th Edition). Who knows if Warner still has these EMI London recordings in their vaults.

    I read a rumour somewhere (can’t remember where) that Callas’s May 18, 1965 Paris TV recital was recorded in real stereo, but I’ve never heard it issued in anything but mono. Also, EMI/Warner have claimed that their issues of the January 24, 1964 Covent Garden Tosca have been in genuine stereo. It is difficult to tell. When I listen through headphones to this Tosca, there is a certain amount of stereo-like ambience, but the voices are totally dead centre with no stage movement at all. If it is real stereo, it may have been made with two microphones in practically the same spot so virtually no stereophonic spread or directionality was captured.

    One of the most tantalizing prospects for a Callas live stereo recording would be her possible German broadcast of Fidelio (sung in Greek) from Athens in 1944. In his book The Unknown Callas, Nicholas Petsalis-Diomidis says: “It is quite probable that one of the performances of Fidelio was broadcast by the German radio station in Athens, in which case it may have been recorded. The very thought of such a discovery awaiting us is enough to bring a frisson of excitement not only to Callas devotees but all true opera lovers” (p. 428). It is known, of course, that late in the war the Germans were doing a lot of broadcasting from tape, much of it in real stereo. The live German stereo recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto from 1944 (Walter Gieseking/Arthur Rother) is outstanding evidence of this. This features incredible sound that makes it seem like a much more modern recording. Unfortunately, after the war, many of the German stereo broadcast tapes were apparently lost or destroyed after being taken to the Soviet Union. Probably an unrealizable dream to discover a German radio stereo tape of Callas singing Fidelio!

    If you don’t mind artificial stereo that is tastefully done, Ars Vocalis has re-issued many of the European ersatz stereo recordings from the 1970s. I always found the mono sound on the original EMI 1950s recordings rather “boxy”, especially on sets such as the 1955 Aida, 1956 Trovatore and 1957 Turandot. The Ars Vocalis re-release of HMV’s artificial stereo 1955 Aida (HMV SLS 5108, 1978), for example, really gives a nice “spread” to the sonics and provides an antidote to the original tunnel-like mono. This re-processed stereo Aida seems to have been achieved without noticeable addition of reverberation, perhaps through splitting frequencies between left and right channels and some “phase shifting” of the sounds between left and right.

    Regards,
    Paul Houle

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    If you don’t mind artificial stereo that is tastefully done, Ars Vocalis has re-issued many of the European ersatz stereo recordings from the 1970s. I always found the mono sound on the original EMI 1950s recordings rather “boxy”, especially on sets such as the 1955 Aida, 1956 Trovatore and 1957 Turandot. The Ars Vocalis re-release of HMV’s artificial stereo 1955 Aida (HMV SLS 5108, 1978), for example, really gives a nice “spread” to the sonics and provides an antidote to the original tunnel-like mono. This re-processed stereo Aida seems to have been achieved without noticeable addition of reverberation, perhaps through splitting frequencies between left and right channels and some “phase shifting” of the sounds between left and right.
    I purchased everyone of those studio "re-channeled" stereo Callas 1950s albums and love the results, I have never seen them in CD format before so when Ars Vocalis had them I purchased one initially as a test (then got full set) and was just amazed at the results, very natural wide stereo field is presented with full impact bass response that is always missing in mono versions, no negatives that I can hear a great find for me........vastly different sound than the very subtle Pristine XR "ambient stereo"
    Last edited by DarkAngel; Jun-26-2019 at 13:09.

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  7. #4714
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    My first exposure to 1956 Trovatore was the EMI (UK) rechanneled stereo LP set, which my grad school (Cornell) owned. In 1982, that's the set which restarted my appreciation of Callas (thereby ruining my life ;-) ). But when I acquired the real mono LPs (not the almost universally horrific CDs), it was like night and day. I instantly realized that the rechanneled stereo Trovatore made Callas sound older (sound of ca. 1959), and flipping her overtones between channels made her sound wobbly (in 1956!) and diffuse; there was also an ugly electronic edge to the unnatural sound. They're all like this: I have Butterfly and Boheme as well and had the repellent Tosca ('53) and Cav/Pag. The original mono LP Trovatore--and even the later Angel pressings--are not so much 'boxy' as rich, focused, succulent (the word that comes to mind despite its synesthesiac connotations), and full of overtones that get utterly lost in the diffuse rechanneled stereo. The irony is that the falsified stereo LPs from the UK had perfect surfaces while the beautiful-sounding Angels needed to be exchanged multiple times because of defects (the reason why, in frustration, I initially bought a few rechanneled sets). The best Trovatore happens to be an LP set I stumbled across a year ago: Angel, ca. 1970 with ochre-brown labels, still with original matrix numbers (they changed with the also rather good orange-label Angels). I can't listen to any other EMI Trovatore.
    Last edited by RES; Jun-26-2019 at 16:34.

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  9. #4715
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    Couldn’t resist!

    EA56651F-DDFE-4111-8A70-99CC2A07340F.jpeg

    Rest In Peace, Maria!
    Last edited by MAS; Sep-16-2019 at 21:25.

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