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Speakers Corner / Philips - 835 220/24 AY - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl
AAA 100% Analogue - Limited Edition
Audiophile Mastering - Pressed at Pallas Germany
AAA 100% Analogue This LP was Remastered using Pure Analogue Components Only, from the Master Tapes through to the Cutting Head
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Wagner: "Parsifal" - Jess Thomas, George London, Martti Talvela, Hans Hotter, Irene Dalis, Gustav Neidlinger and other soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch
This five-LP set will run you about $165, a lot of money for one opera (albeit a four-hour-plus opera.) Is it worth it? Well, the sound is terrific, the packaging exquisite, and—most importantly—the performance is nonpareil. I’m a Wagner collector and if limited to just one Parsifal for all eternity, this would be the one. Yes, it’s worth it. Andrew Quint - The Absolute Sound
The original pressings are not easy to find, although there were three different re-issues and box-sets ) where the sound decreased in quality with each issue. So, if one wants the best sound, it has to be this Speakers Corner disc. Classical Source
Anyone who has sat on the hard chairs in Bayreuth to be immersed in Wagner’s surging waves knows that this hardship has been well worth it. The special acoustics of the Festspielhaus (for the building of which Wagner bled the Bavarian King Ludwig II like the Knights of the Grail bled Amfortas) are not purely a delight for pilgrims to the Grüner Hügel: record collectors will instantly recognise why music recorded in Bayreuth is not simply labelled 'Live Recording' but presented as an 'Original Recording'.
And indeed, the artistic excellence of the present "Parsifal" also contributes to the myths surrounding the Festival. Jess Thomas portrays the title role ideally, singing with an intense, heroic sound and clear articulation. George London, who personally suffered tragedy, creates a monument for himself as the wounded Amfortas, while Hans Hotter sings with the powerful baritone of an erudite but by no means antiquated Gurnemanz.
No less legendary is Hans Knappertsbusch’s musical direction: a 'high priest' of slower tempos, his conducting was miraculously never felt to be sluggish. Gurnemanz’s mystic words "Zum Raum wird hier die Zeit" (Time here becomes space) take on a programmatic meaning for both the music and sound of this recording.
Recording: July and August 1962 at Festspielhaus Bayreuth, Germany, by Volker Straus
Production: Hans Lauterslager
Speakers Corner transfers are fully the equal of the originals; with perhaps better orchestral definition and clarity
Speakers Corner continues to produce the highest quality classical music reissues. While owning many of the reissues, the most recent addition is Wagner's Parsifal. I am not a fan of opera, but this pressing caught my attention given it was recorded at Bayreuth. On par with previous Speakers Corner products, the set of 5 LPs are perfectly flat and the surface noise is non-existent. Easily the quietest LP set I have. Voices and musical nuances are easily detected given the stealth black background. Yes, you can hear the audience occasionally on this live recording. I find the occasional cough or bodies rustling make this performance all the more lifelike. I feel as though I am in the audience. Once again, opera is not my forte, but I must say that I really enjoy listening to this recording because of its lifelike qualities and the tonality is just right on my system. Dynamics and transients are very good, with usual solid frequency balance across the spectrum. Sonically, I can't find any faults.
One of the more interesting aspects of this recording is listening to a soloist (acapella). The recording easily conveys the phase differences when the singer is facing toward the microphone vs. facing backwards. The voice phasing alters as the singer faces difference. It is easy to detect and once agains, adds to the realism of this live recording.I heartily recommend this LP set for anybody interested in great musing and sonic pleasures.
Here the balance is forward without any sense of stridency. The singers are clearly behind and above the orchestra (Bayreuth has a sunken orchestra pit) and there is a clear sense of acoustic and space. All of the soloists have presence and body, and the chorus is exceptionally full-toned, while the orchestra has both fullness and definition, and the sound expands superbly at climaxes. It is doubtful if any other performance at the Festspielhaus has been so well captured, and the Speakers Corner transfers are fully the equal of the originals; with perhaps better orchestral definition and clarity. With regard to the originals they are – it almost goes without saying – rare and the price for perfect copies in the last year has averaged around £200.00. While some of the later solid-state remasterings are very good, they all lack the weight and power of the earlier ones. There is little point in comparing these Speakers Corner discs with CD transfers, as digital sound is completely incapable of capturing the acoustic and ambience of any venue – let alone one so distinctive as Bayreuth – or the natural timbre of the human voice.- Classicalsource
Chorus and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival
Hans Knappertsbusch, conductor
Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Parsifal – Bühnenweihfestspiel in three acts to a libretto by the composer [sung in German
Parsifal – Jess Thomas
Gurnemanz – Hans Hotter
Amfortas – George London
Klingsor – Gustav Neidlinger
Titurel – Martti Talvela
Kundry – Irene Dallas
First Grail Knight – Niels Möller
Second Grail Knight – Gerd Nienstedt
First Squire – Sona Cervena
Second Squire – Ursula Boesa
Third Squire – Gerhardt Stolze
Fourth Squire – Georg Faskuda
First Flower Maiden, Group One – Gundula Janowitz
Second Flower Maiden, Group One – Anja Silja
Third Flower Maiden, Group One – Else-Margrete Gardelli
First Flower Maiden, Group Two – Dorothea Siebert
Second Flower Maiden, Group Two – Rita Bartos
Third Flower Maiden, Group Two – Sona Cervena
Contralto solo – Ursula Boese
Chorus & Orchestra of Bayreuth Festival
20 Years pure Analogue
Are your records completely analogue?
Yes! This we guarantee!
As a matter of principle, only analogue masters are used, and the necessary cutting delay is also analogue. All our cutting engineers use only Neumann cutting consoles, and these too are analogue. The only exception is where a recording has been made – either partly or entirely – using digital technology, but we do not have such items in our catalogue at the present time
Are your records cut from the original masters?
In our re-releases it is our aim to faithfully reproduce the original intentions of the musicians and recording engineers which, however, could not be realised at the time due to technical limitations. Faithfulness to the original is our top priority, not the interpretation of the original: there is no such thing as a “Speakers Corner Sound”. Naturally, the best results are obtained when the original master is used. Therefore we always try to locate these and use them for cutting. Should this not be possible, – because the original tape is defective or has disappeared, for example – we do accept a first-generation copy. But this remains an absolute exception for us.
Who cuts the records?
In order to obtain the most faithful reproduction of the original, we have the lacquers cut on the spot, by engineers who, on the whole, have been dealing with such tapes for many years. Some are even cut by the very same engineer who cut the original lacquers of the first release. Over the years the following engineers have been and still are working for us: Tony Hawkins, Willem Makkee, Kevin Gray, Maarten de Boer, Scott Hull, and Ray Staff, to name but a few.
At the beginning of the ‘90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the reissue policy was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC Compact Classics, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and others, including of course Speakers Corner, all maintained a mutual, unwritten code of ethics: we would manufacture records sourced only from analogue tapes.
Vinyl’s newfound popularity has led many other companies to jump on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source from which to master: CDs, LPs, digital files and even MP3s.
Even some who do use an analogue tape source employ a digital delay line, a misguided ’80s and ‘90s digital technology that replaces the analogue preview head originally used to “tell” the cutter head in advance what was about to happen musically, so it could adjust the groove “pitch” (the distance between the grooves) to make room for wide dynamic swings and large low frequency excursions. Over time analogue preview heads became more rare and thus expensive.
So while the low bit rate (less resolution than a 16 bit CD) digital delay line is less expensive and easier to use than an analogue “preview head”, its use, ironically, results in lacquers cut from the low bit rate digital signal instead of from the analogue source!
Speakers Corner wishes to make clear that it produces lacquers using only original master tapes and an entirely analogue cutting system. New metal stampers used to press records are produced from that lacquer. The only exceptions are when existing metal parts are superior to new ones that might be cut, which includes our release of “Elvis is Back”, which was cut by Stan Ricker or several titles from our Philips Classics series, where were cut in the 1990s using original master tapes by Willem Makkee at the Emil Berliner Studios. In those cases we used only the original “mother” to produce new stampers.
In addition, we admit to having one digital recording in our catalogue: Alan Parsons’ “Eye in the Sky”, which was recorded digitally but mixed to analogue tape that we used to cut lacquers.
In closing, we want to insure our loyal customers that, with but a few exceptions as noted, our releases are “AAA”— analogue tape, an all analogue cutting system, and newly cut lacquers.