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Thread: 'Unissued' Recordings

  1. #1
    Mandryka Guest

    Default 'Unissued' Recordings

    The John Ogdon CD I'm curently listening to (see separate thread) contains a couple of recordings never issued before: a Paganini Variations where the piano was considered to be 'too recessed' nad a Bartok PC 1 under Sargent (can't comment on the performance, as I don't know the piece that well). I'm intrigued as to why recordings remain unissued - I believe some artists (Clifford Curzon was one) had a right of veto over their releases.....dangerous ground, I think, as an artist's feeling about a particular performance are likely to be coloured by all sorts of things (how they felt on the day, whether it compared poorly with a performance they'd given the previous evening, etc).

    Anyone know of any recordings that have been 'lost' in this way? The Keilberth stereo Ring was probably the most famous example, until its eventual release in the mid-00s.

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    A Menuhin/Boult Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto from the late 1950s.

    I am sure Gramophone announced an Argerich Mendelssohn Piano Concerto record about 10 years ago and that never appeared .

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    Unissued recordings that eventually appeared or unissued recordings that have still to appear?

    The second category is, by its very nature difficult to quantify but I can offer one. When Simon Rattle and the CBSO performed the Mahler 7 at the Proms in 1989 I went backstage afterwards and asked SR if they were recording it. He told me that they were taking it into the studio next day. For whatever reason, though I believe it was because the Prom account proved impossible to capture in the studio, it was never issued. A live account appeared in 1991. EMI should therefore have an unissued Mahler 7 in their vaults.
    “Every piece of music is a rehearsal of one’s life,” - Sir Colin Davis

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    I dont know for sure if these count, but I think they are worth mentioning. A few years ago I bought a pile of LPs of 'BBC Transcription Service' recordings. As far as I understand it, these were produced by the BBC from recordings made (presumably by them, since there are spoken introductions by announcers who were clearly employed by the BBC, since their vocalisation is impeccably correct) of live concerts and pressed (probably in very small numbers, but to very high standards) to send out to BBC outstations round the world, for local re-transmission. This was well into the era of good quality tape, so why they went through the elaborate procedure of producing a vinyl disc, I dont know. You basically get an evening symphony concert broadcast, on LP, but with very tricky side arrangements, which allow you (I think) to phase in side 2 (second bit) after side 1 (first bit) without a pause to turn over the record. So you dont find side 2 on the other side of side 1 of the first record, but on the first side of the second record, where you would expect to find side 3. So with a two deck system and both discs running, you could phase in the second side at the end of the first without a pause to switch sides. Got it? Good.

    These are certainly unissued, because they were only ever made for use by the BBC. They are in plain coarse yellow paper sleeves, sometimes with notes: sometimes not, presumed lost. The labels are green and yellow and tell you that copyright and reproduction rights reside with the BBC. I only have them because, I guess, a former BBC employee must have kept them, eventually died, then the executors disposed of them to a second hand dealer. Whether they are now 'issued' (because I own them) or not, I'll await opinions. And if anyone wants details I will be happy to oblige, but its too much detailed typing to get involved with at this time of life.

    A sample. A set of 3 LPs of a concert where the main work was Bruckner's 7th, BBC SO cond. Haitink. The 'Continuity Sheet' says the date was 10.09.65, but the record labels say the 'Expiry Date' was 31.12.69. I dont know to what 'Expiry' refers. The set also contains some arias by Handel, Haydn and Sacchini (who?) with the ECO cond. Leppard and sung by April Cantelo and Patricia Clark. These forces seem unlikely to co-habit a live concert with the BBC SO (BBC SO and ECO in a single concert?), but at this late time of night, I'll just present the info as I read it and dig deeper in the cold morning light if anyone wishes.

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    Elgar recorded the Prelude to his oratorio "The Apostles". There were a few test pressings, but it was rejected for commercial release. All other Elgar recordings rejected in this way have been "rescued", but it seems likely that no pressings of this one have survived.

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    The Curzon recording of the Mozart piano concertos K466 and K595 with Benjamin Britten and the ECO was not issued for a long time because IIRC Curzon did not feel his performance did the works justice. Of course I rushed to buy the recording when it was eventually released, but I came to feel that there was something in Curzon's dissatisfaction with the performances - whether it is the partnership between him and Britten and the orchestra I don't know but there is something that fails to convince in the way that his glorious recording of the K488 and K491 with the LSO/Kertesz does. I rarely listen to the Curzon/Britten/ECO recording now. Perhaps Curzon's instinct was surer than that of the recording company.

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    umslopogaas,

    Those transcription discs must be quite a find! You are certainly right that tape was in full use by the early sixties for domestic transmission, but these discs were intended as you say for despatch to other broadcasting organisations, some of them with limited facilities, in Africa for example.
    I worked in broadcasting house from 1957 to 1961, and there were still plenty of disc recording channels in use. Programmes like Radio Newsreel still used 78 shellacs for recording overseas contributions, and whole programmes were preserved on 16 inch discs.

    Earlier on, in the early 1950s, the first batches of tape from EMI were often faulty, suffering badly from print through and dropouts from oxide loss. At the time EMI were the only major producer, and the BBC by far the largest user, so I understand that they issued an ultimatum proposing to stop using tape unless the standard improved. Another problem in using tape to send overseas was the risk of accidental erasure. Another difficulty was that there were still arguments about which record / playback characteristics were in use in different organisations, CCIR or RIAA for instance. Better to rely on them having a turntable !

    Radio 3 had an gentleman called the Opera Manager, who liked having live broadcasts from Covent Garden and elsewhere recorded for his "office use " We sat for hours picking over 78 acetates which had only been recorded on one side, looking for the best surfaces, and then cutting the discs with two machines for turnovers. Imagine the weight of the pile!

    I suspect that "expiry date" refers to transmission rules, and not shelf life, which is a long one, as you have discovered!

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    Thanks ff, pleased to gather some background. Judging by the number of concerts the BBC must have recorded during the vinyl era, what I have must be the tip of the iceberg and there are, or were, a lot more out there somewhere. After 40 - 50 years, the surfaces are sometimes a bit crackly, but otherwise very good and the sound quality is excellent.

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    I believe LSO Live taped a Haitink Bizet Symphony about ten years ago and were waiting to record

    a suitable coupling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    I believe LSO Live taped a Haitink Bizet Symphony about ten years ago and were waiting to record a suitable coupling.
    I remember that concert being broadcast, May 15 2002 (I think!). Wouldn't have thought a suitable coupling would have posed too many problems.

    There was a Klemperer Petrushka and Pulcinella Suite that EMI recorded in 1967 but never issued. Testament did so a few years back whereupon the disc received a rave review from Richard Osborne.
    “Every piece of music is a rehearsal of one’s life,” - Sir Colin Davis

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