First there was this, https://www.classicalsource.com/cd/first-hand-records-early-stereo-recordings-1-strauss-del-mar-saint-saens-tortelier-brahms-wolf/, followed by https://firsthandrecords.com/products-page/classical/haydn-symphony-no-97-mozart-symphony-no-34-schubert-symphony-no-3-etc-esr-2/ and thirdly this, https://firsthandrecords.com/products-page/album/vivaldi-concerto-for-4-harpsichords-arr-j-s-bach-concerto-for-4-harpsichords-arr-dart-j-s-bach-concerto-for-3-harpsichords-esr-%e2%80%a2-3/.

Volume 4 is also a winner. The stereo sound, captured in either Abbey Road Studio No.1 or Kingsway Hall, is wonderfully vibrant, much of it engineered by the recently late Christopher Parker (see below). Remasterer Ian Jones, unlike some of his colleagues, knows full well that if you try to remove all the tape hiss then you also compromise certain frequencies, especially those ‘down below’ and pianissimo passages. None of that avoidable yucky murkiness here for the reproduction is wonderfully open and natural, delighting the ear.

The music-making is terrific, too, with no barrier between the stellar performers and the lucky listener. Guido Cantelli conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in a measured if exciting ‘Danse générale’ from Daphnis et Chloé (1956), and there is further Ravel, his Boléro, in an expansive/held-steady and hypnotic account from Eugene Goossens and the RPO (1957). Goossens also conducts Enrique Arbós’s colourful orchestration of the First Book of Albéniz’s descriptive piano cycle Iberia (Philharmonia, 1956). Step forward Vittorio Gui for a very sympathetic reading of Bizet’s charming and sparkling Jeux d’enfants (RPO, 1955, previously available). Finally, also RPO, a year later, Paul Kletzki leads a superb version of Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, so evocative and fiery knees-up pulsating.

This first-class First Hand issue, a joy, is complemented by David Murphy’s attractive artwork and booklet notes from David Patmore and Peter Bromley. FHR79. Full details here: https://firsthandrecords.com/products-page/album/early-stereo-recordings-%e2%80%a2-4-albeniz-%e2%80%a2-bizet-%e2%80%a2-kodaly-%e2%80%a2-ravel/. This is a series that will hopefully run and run as early stereo reels continue to be dusted off.

https://firsthandrecords.com/

Sad news: Christopher Parker, for many years EMI’s recording engineer at Abbey Road, has died at the age of 95.