Tag Archives: columbia

The Great Fake Prominent International Orchestra Swindle

Daniel Wakin has the juicy details at the NY Times. The truth is that the “Great International Orchestra Swindle” is not a terribly well-kept secret – and arguably one of the biggest scandals – in the American classical music business.

It’s also worth noting that on more than one occasion I’ve seen fine local free-lancers padding out the ranks of a couple of legitimate “name” Russian orchestras performing in New York City. It might be a worthwhile topic for a follow-up article by Wakin, who has become a “must-read” music journalist.

Vintage Holiday Cheer

This year’s selection is a rip-roaring recording of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite from the very early days of electrical recording. Oscar Fried’s 1929 recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was made for UK Columbia, and the sound is a little “zingy” but nevertheless very impressive (frequency response all the way up to 5kHz). This particular transfer (from an out-of-print Preiser CD which also includes a sensational performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony and the suite from Delibes’ Coppelia) sounds as if it was effected from laminated pressings in excellent condition. I’ve corrected the EQ curve and applied a small amount of noise reduction, but didn’t take heroic measures to remove the swishes completely; this is, after all, some vintage holiday cheer! The “Trepak” should leave your jaw hanging, and the “Waltz of the Flowers” is the most thrilling pre-stereo performance I’ve heard. You can stream the 320kHz mp3 or click here to download a mono 44.1kHz 16-bit FLAC.

{enclose Tchaikovsky.Nutcracker_Suite.Fried-RPO.1929.mp3}

Previous early electrical holiday cheer here and here.