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Subject: Re: Callas remasterings
From: Jason Victor Serinus <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jason Victor Serinus <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 24 Feb 2017 14:22:23 -0800
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Hi Max,

I prefer not to second guess what Les meant. He's a really nice as well as
articulate man, and certainly capable of clarifying. But I do appreciate
your confirmation that Callas' pitch and vocal emission remain unchanged
from the original LPs.

The issue of enhancement and manipulation is important here. On the recent
CD issue of two concerts by Marian Anderson, one of which is the historic
broadcast from the Lincoln Memorial, the second concert was cosmetically
enhanced. It's explained in the liner notes that, in the late years of her
career, or at least at this performance, Anderson was experiencing problems
with intonation and steadiness of emission. In the interest of repeated
listening, the engineer corrected these. Unfortunately, when the CD was
reviewed in Opera News, the reviewer failed to mention the corrections, and
instead remarked on how well-preserved Anderson's voice was.

I also learned after the fact that the voice of a soprano on a recording I
reviewed a few years ago - I prefer not to mention the artist, because she
was dealing with a hush-hush cancer diagnosis at the time - was manipulated
to make her sound in far better voice than she was at the time.

jason

---
Jason Victor Serinus http://www.jasonserinus.com     Whistler
Extraordinaire: **The Voice of Woodstock • The Pavarotti of Pucker**
Music and audiophile critic: Seattle Times, Port Townsend Leader,
Stereophile, Listen, San Francisco Classical Voice, Bay Area Reporter, Gay
City News, American Record Guide, Classical Voice North America, Stanford
Live, Opera Now, Copper, and more

"Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the
tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel

“This is a time to remember all of us who are LGBTQ. It’s a time to stand
out and be proud, to parade who we are, to celebrate and to let them know
we will not be silenced, we will not be stopped, we will not go back into
the closet. Together, we will love.” — JVS at our Orlando Massacre Support
Rally in Port Townsend, WA

On Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 1:12 PM, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Jason, I can let Les speak for himself but I didn't read into his use of
> "mitigated" what you did.
>
> I've been listening to these on 24/96 downloads and the Japanese SACD
> releases and they are really excellent. What I experience and what I think
> Les meant, was that passages that had some unsteadiness or stridency were
> previously made worse by a layer of distortion that has now been removed.
>
> To me, the actual sound of her voice on the new issues does not sound much
> different at all from the original blue/gold (mono) and blue/silver
> (stereo) UK Columbia LPs I've been listening to. The background is quieter
> and the dynamic range is wider on the new issues. That similarity leads me
> to highly doubt that any intrusive cosmetic touch-ups were done.  Up until
> now, I've had to go back to LP to hear an agreeable sounding "O patria mia"
> or "Si, vendetta" (in the latter, on the last digitization before the new
> set, her high E-flat was ear lacerating).
>
> Actually, I'm really impressed at the overall quality given the age of
> these recordings: clearly, EMI has done a better job than some (like Decca)
> at storing and preserving their tapes. It could also have to do with the
> tape formulation used.
>
> While the big red Callas box attracted justifiable major attention, there
> have been similar, really excellent remasterings done in a very similar way
> by Warner at Abbey Road of a large number of EMI Karajan recordings (with
> real revelations in the remasterings of the 1940s Vienna shellacs) but,
> unfortunately so far, this has covered few of his opera recordings.
>
> Before EMI sold to Warner, their Japanese Toshiba partner had sponsered a
> similar cleanup (also done by the same Abbey Road crew) of their
> Furtwängler catalogue, including operas, that has been maintained by
> Warner. Some of these are available on high res downloads, others on
> Japanese SACDs. The remastered sound of the Rome "Ring" is strikingly
> improved.
>
> Not Warner or EMI, but two additional (admittedly expensive) Japanese SACD
> sets of note are their issues of the 1950 Furtwängler La Scala "Ring" with
> Flagstad and 1957 Knappertsbusch Bayreuth "Ring" (with Nilsson as Sieglinde
> and a stunning 3rd Norn and Elisabeth Grümmer as Gutrune). Both sound
> notably better than any previous issues I've heard (and I've heard many
> attempts at the Furtwängler/Scala set).
>
> Max Paley
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
> > On Feb 24, 2017, at 12:19, Jason Victor Serinus <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> >
> > Les suggests that the Callas remasterings in 24/96, which are, without
> > question, the best sounding issues of her voice on CD and hi-rez
> download,
> > actually tampered with the voice and smoothed out vocal unsteadiness.
> This
> > is not what I was told at the time the recordings were issued, and I
> > reported on them for Stereophile.
> >
> > I am inclined to believe this assessment incorrect. Barring a personal
> > side-by-side comparison, which I don't have time to perform, I'm checking
> > with Warner on this.
> >
> > jason victor serinus
> >
> > Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
> > Subject: Re: Callas remembered
> >
> > I believe that Idia was asking about the book on Callas by Nadia
> Stanicof=
> > f.
> > I personally don't care much for it because it deals with the post-l965
> > Callas and tells nothing about the attributes that made her what she was
> =
> > and
> > is.  It's not a happy read, and it (to me, anyway) shows that La Callas,
> > especially in those last years, was not a happy lady and may well have
> be=
> > en
> > in desperate need of psychiatric help.=20
> > In view of her war-time experiences in Greece, her fractured
> relationship=
> >
> > with her mother, her on and off relationship with Artisotle Onassis, her
> > poor sense of judgement, this is obviously a probability.  Her close
> > relationships with international celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor,
> Richa=
> > rd
> > Burton, Omar Scariff, and so many others in the "jet set" did nothing to
> > alleviate her misery.  Hers was not a happy life, especially during the
> > last fifteen years.  And then there was her addiction to sleeping pills,
> > which is well documented.=20=20
> >      Speaking of Callas, I cannot recommend highly enough that Warners b=
> > ig
> > red box that contains all of her studio recordings.  They all sound
> > wonderful, and they put a very different complexion on the Callas
> voice.=20=
> >
> > The recordings that surprise me most are the stereo operas and recitals
> t=
> > hat
> > were recorded in the very late 1950s and early 1960's.  The real
> surprise=
> >
> > for me is the 1959 Lucia and the 1960 Norma.  The remastering done by
> > Warners has mitigated much of the vocal unsteadiness as heard on the EMI
> > versions.  Have listened to the 1960 Norma many times, and I find that
> it=
> > is
> > a much more towering performance than the one she recorded six years
> > earlier.  The quiet singing is very beautiful, and again the blatant
> voca=
> > l
> > problems on high have been greatly minimized by the remastering.
> > This makes me wonder whether EMI ever really captured her as faithfully
> a=
> > s
> > they could have.  The musical and interpretative genius of course still
> > remains, but the voice itself (even in the later recordings of the
> 1960's=
> > )
> > sounds far more even, secure, and balanced that they did on the previous
> =
> > EMI
> > editions.  Bur for me, the real revelation is the 1960 Norma, for me
> stil=
> > l
> > THE Norma of Norma recordings.  But what do I know?=20=20
> >      Interesting how the lady refuses to be forgotten.=20=20
> > ---
> > Jason Victor Serinus http://www.jasonserinus.com     Whistler
> > Extraordinaire: **The Voice of Woodstock • The Pavarotti of Pucker**
> > Music and audiophile critic: Seattle Times, Port Townsend Leader,
> > Stereophile, Listen, San Francisco Classical Voice, Bay Area Reporter,
> Gay
> > City News, American Record Guide, Classical Voice North America, Stanford
> > Live, Opera Now, Copper, and more
> >
> > "Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the
> > tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel
> >
> > “This is a time to remember all of us who are LGBTQ. It’s a time to stand
> > out and be proud, to parade who we are, to celebrate and to let them know
> > we will not be silenced, we will not be stopped, we will not go back into
> > the closet. Together, we will love.” — JVS at our Orlando Massacre
> Support
> > Rally in Port Townsend, WA
> >
> > **********************************************
> > OPERA-L on Facebook:
> > http://www.facebook.com/groups/25703098721/
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