Sunday, 26 November 2017

Klemperer at his best. But ....

A CD release from ICA (International Concert Artists) sees four CDs of London concerts by Otto Klemperer in 1955 and 1956. So far I have just sampled the Mozart pieces; the performances are pretty outstanding. At that time, Klemperer was fleet of foot, and the Philharmonia at its peak. The sound quality is not bad at all, taken from the original BBC broadcast tapes.

But …. and it's a big but. The transfers are just a straight tape dump, despite Paul Bailey being listed as “Remastering”. So you get audience noise and coughing even between movements; you get applause; you get a constant hum of concert hall reverberation and audience noise. Professional transfer artists such as Andrew Rose, Seth Winner or Mark Obert-Thorn have shown what can be done with removing background noise from old 78s or LPs, and I cannot believe it would not have been possible to remove much of it here. And as for leaving hall noise and coughing between movements …. The recordings are now way out of international copyright, despite the optimistic copyright notices plastered all over this set. Let us hope some real transfer artists take them over and convert very good concert hall performances into very good recorded performances. Mr Bailey should be hanging his head in shame. I may have to spend a lot of time re-transferring and cleaning up these recordings myself, since the performances are well worth having the best and merit a little tender loving care.

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