Two decades ago, Leslie Gerber’s enterprising New-York-based label Parnassus began issuing a series showcasing previously unreleased and rare recordings from Sviatoslav Richter made throughout the Soviet Union and its satellites in the 1950s – the decade before the explosive 1960 debut American tour that elevated him to a legendary status that never wore off. Over a period of several years, thirteen discs were issued in seven volumes. They were easily obtained at the big-city Tower Records stores in the USA, but were often difficult to find abroad, and a bit expensive where they could be found.
Parnassus is now distributed by Musical Concepts, my friend Todd Landor’s label/distribution unit/production company. Late last year, after Todd had acquired the Colorado Quartet’s Beethoven recordings from Parnassus, I suggested that we compile a Richter 1950s retrospective for digital-only release.
A little over four hours of music was selected from the near sixteen hours of music on the original discs for Sviatoslav Richter – The Early Years: Rise of a Virtuoso Legend. The choices were difficult, as the set is so consistently excellent from an artistic standpoint, but several major works for which Richter had an affinity were obvious choices, particularly Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7, Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B-Flat Major, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (a very different interpretation than the well-known Sofia recital from 1959 issued by Philips back in the day),
The original Parnassus masters were generally good, but most benefitted from pitch stabilization to remove flutter from analog tape sources. A few were re-equalized and in several cases obtrusive lighting and electrical hum were abated; in a couple of instances, very slight noise reduction was applied.
And now, it is available from Amazon – for now, it is priced at under $9 in the USA and 8 quid in the UK.
American customers can find it here, and UK listeners can find it at this Amazon link.
I am trying something new on my Facebook feed: a classical music ( or music-related) video from Vimeo or YouTube each day shortly after 7pmEST. I will be doing this through at least the end of May. Enjoy!
Running a label and managing two other media holdings has proven time-consuming, but things are about to change.
Starting in September, I’ll be blogging classical consumer goods again, from vinyl to streaming, along with a concert review here or there.
The Examiner‘s Stephen Smoliar relates his experience listening to the my label Urlicht AudioVisual’s recording of Luigi Nono’s La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura with violinist Miranda Cuckson and electronica master Richard Burns some years after having heard a live performance by Gidon Kremer:
An impressive effort to document Miranda Cuckson’s performance of Luigi Nono
… A recent release of [La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura] by Urlicht has taken a rather unique approach to capturing that sense of journey. Violinist Miranda Cuckson and “projectionist” Christopher Burns made a recording after having given a performance in New York. This was a multi-track recording for playback on a 5.1 Surround Sound system, and it was released as a Blu-ray audio disc. For those who lacked the necessary technology, that disc was packaged with a more conventional stereophonic CD. As one who lacks that “necessary technology,” my own listening experience involved playing the CD with full knowledge of my previous spatial experience.
With that disclaimer I have to say that there is much to be gained from the CD in spite of its limitations. Without the spatial effects one is more inclined to attend to Nono’s motivic vocabulary. While this may make the journey less “physical,” one can still appreciate that sense of peregrination through the six sections of the piece (conveniently marked as separate tracks on the CD). Furthermore, those who understand the semantics of “madrigal” in its Renaissance context will probably be more likely to appreciate why Nono chose this noun to categorize this particular composition.
Nevertheless, the other significant disclaimer I must make is that I had the advantage of listening to this recording with the benefit of past experience. There is no doubt that this is complex music, the result of scrupulous attention to both the notations encountered on the music stands and the sounds on the recorded tracks. It is probably more than most listeners will be able to manage on first contact. Nevertheless, it does not take many exposures for mind to encounter familiarities as the performance peregrinates. The listener willing to let this music work its magic on its own terms is likely to be well rewarded.
Luigi Nono: La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura (1988-89) Miranda Cuckson, violin / Christopher Burns, electronics
Produced by Christopher Burns and Richard Warp Recording engineer: Richard Warp Recorded at A Bloody Good Record Inc, Long Island City NY Mixing engineer (stereo CD): Richard Warp Mixing engineers (DTS 5.1 surround mix): Paul Special and Richard Warp Assistant mixing engineer (DTS 5.1 surround mix): Dillon Pajunas DTS 5.1 surround mix produced at Sonic Arts Center, CCNY, NYC Produced for New Spectrum Recordings, NYC Executive producer: Glenn Cornett
Urlicht AudioVisual UAD-5992 CD plus Blu-Ray Audio for home theater systems — available at Amazon.com. CD plus DTS-CD for home theater systems — available here.
So says music journalist, author, and critic Norman Lebrecht about Elisha Abas at Lebrecht’s blog. Click here to read the entire post and see Abas play Chopin.
Abas Plays Brahms: buy here.
Abas Plays Chopin & Yedidia: Buy here.
(Crossposted from Urlicht AudioVisual.)
Composer Patricia Leonard informs my label, Urlicvht AudioVisual, that Strangely Close, Yet Distant, her trio for viola, cello, and piano included in the New York Piano Quartet’s Songs for Mahler in the Absence of Words, has been nominated for the American Prize for Composition. Congratulations to Patricia along with the members of the New York Piano Quartet along with recording engineer John Baker and his team!
Strictly commercial footnote: download the hi-def .flac edition here. Download the CD-quality .flac edition here. Download the hi-quality mp3 edition here. Buy the CD edition here.
Legendary Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal trumpet Adolph Herseth has died at age 91.
Seemingly indefatigable British maestro Sir Colin Davis has died at age 85.
UPDATE: Make that three — pianist and new music champion David Burge has died at 83.
Just crossed the AP wire.
I’ve introduced myself to many celebrated musicians. Van was the first such person to step over and introduce himself to me — while I was taking a brief break in the coffee nook at BMG Classics. We chewed the fat for a few minutes, particularly about the greatly underrated piano music of Szymanowski. The media may have presented an image of Cliburn as shy, but I can vouch for that fact that he was gregarious company whose passion for music as both a player and listener was clear with every word.
I have a lot of fun and funny memories of interacting with musicians, but meeting Cliburn remains the most vivid more than two decades later.
The Trib has the story. And yes, this is an even bigger deal than the article suggests; can the AFM push back against what looks more and more like a coordinated campaign by management bureaucracies across the the nation to nickel and dime and dollar and G-note musicians?