About a month ago, a pair of enormous shipping crates arrived at the New York apartment. Mrs. Synaphaï nearly freaked out.
It was Ray Edwards – at the time buyer for Tower Records’ legendary, late, lamented classical department on West 4th and Broadway – that recommended I check out the recordings of British-born, Russian-raised conductor Albert Coates (I believe we’d been talking about the ever-popular “Toscanini vs. Furtwängler” debate and my having come down decidedly on the side of Willem Mengelberg).
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.
A little bombast for the first mystery clip in some time: the final section of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Your mission: identify the conductor. One helpful clue: there’s something, well, a little different about the coda.
Answer will be published at 1500 EST Friday.