Today we take high fidelity sound quality for granted, but how did it start? When was the moment when compressed and scratchy sound gave way to natural, realistic sound that captured the whole picture of a performance?
Decca Sound ‘Mono Years’ seeks to answer that question and shows how, 70 years ago, amidst war-time privations, a small team at Decca made technological breakthroughs that brought hi-fi to the world. This latest cube explores Decca’s earliest high-fidelity history, and restores some restores critically acclaimed albums from ensembles such as the Trio di Trieste, Quintetto Chigiano and Griller Quartet which have not been available since their original LP release more than sixty years ago. An equally impressive array of soloists includes pianists Clifford Curzon, Julius Katchen, Friedrich Gulda and Moura Lypmany and violinists Ruggiero Ricci and Alfredo Campoli. Several generations of cellists are represented with recordings by Pierre Fournier, Maurice Gendron and Zara Nelsova.
This fabulous five disc set is replete with some of those old Stokowski warhorses all recorded in absolutely mind boggling Phase 4 sound, overblown perhaps but astounding for its time. Decca's remastering is absolutely magnificent and the discs are jam packed with almost six hours of music. This is another fine memorial to a great conductor who remained astonishingly vital until the very end of his life.
Bernard Haitink conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Brahms’s great orchestral works, including the complete symphonies. The concertos feature three great soloists: pianist Claudio Arrau, violinist Henryk Szeryng, and cellist Janos Starker. "No one, I trust, will deny that Arrau has lived with, wrestled with, and in a truly terribly way ’known’ the D minor Concerto for more years than most of us can consciously recall. Where contemporary pianists have often tended to refine or domesticate the concerto, withdrawing it from the world of heroic endeavour, Arrau has always done the reverse. No pianist, apart possibly from Serkin in his several recordings, has communicated so formidably the work’s scope: its seriousness and its anxious, tragic mood. Often Arrau makes free with the text. But the vision is huge, the technique astonishing. Haitink is a worthy accompanist."
Duke Ellington recorded for Brunswick from 1926 to 1931, the period in which his great talent and great orchestra first flowered, whether the band was recording under his own name or such pseudonyms as the Washingtonians or the Jungle Band. The earliest recordings are highlighted by the presence of trumpeter Bubber Miley and trombonist "Tricky Sam" Nanton, whose brilliant work with plunger mutes for vocal effects did much to define the early sound–which, in turn, rapidly evolved and expanded with the additions of Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges, and Cootie Williams. While the band's repertoire included many blues and popular songs, its distinctive identity emerges from early renditions of such trademark pieces as "East St. Louis Toodle-O," "Black and Tan Fantasy," "The Mooche," and "Mood Indigo." By the end of the period covered in this set, Ellington's ambitious later suites–some of them CD-length–are portended in the elegant extended composition "Creole Rhapsody," his clearly superior contribution to the symphonic jazz movement.
"Scotland's sweetheart" and onetime BBC Young Musician of the Year Nicola Benedetti follows up her 2011 release Italia with this collection of music from the silver screen and beyond. Centered around Erich Korngold's lush Violin Concerto, the album features film music both old and new, such as John Williams' Schindler's List, Howard Shore's Eastern Promises, and Dario Marianelli's Jane Eyre. It also includes other classical works by Korngold, Mahler, and Shostakovich.
Schuricht subsumed his ego in favour of creating a coherent, clear-flowing narrative. The Decca Recordings affords us a fresh opportunity to rediscover this eloquent interpreter of the Austro-German greats in this 10-CD original jackets set featuring all his Decca recordings and the first international release on CD of his 6 albums from the 78rpm era.
Decca was a fairly wide-ranging label whose trademark sound was a strain of commercially palpable hillbilly pop perfected by producer (and, beginning in 1958, label head) Owen Bradley. These three discs offer an assortment of stars (Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly, Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn), subordinates, and the uncelebrated. The latter, in fact, are what makes this box stand out. A great deal of the fun comes from antiquated time pieces like Johnny Wright's "Hello Vietnam" ("I hope theworld will come to learn/That fires we don't put out will bigger burn") or that master of the hayseed soliloquy Red Sovine's "If Jesus Came to Your House" ("Would you have to change your clothes before you let him in?/Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they'd been?"). Overall, From The Vaults serves as an evocative sampler of what a rural jukebox was playing when Gunsmoke ruled the tube.