Speakers Corner / Deutsche Grammophon - DGG 2530 214
180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - 4260019714770 - Limited Edition
Pure Analogue Audiophile Mastering - Pressed at Pallas Germany
Antonín Dvorák: String Quintet in G major Op. 77 - Boston Symphony Chamber Players
Joseph Silverstein, Max Hobart ; Burton Fine ; Jules Eskin ; Henry Portnoi
There are earthier, less sophisticated ways of playing Dvořák, but in essence this is refined, civilised – yet truly felt – music-making, and carries the highest recommendation.In terms of sound, any recording of this work must cope with the rich sonority a double bass brings. In the 1950s and 1960s DG would have struggled to do this, but unlike some other recording companies its sound improved with the advent of solid-state amplification, and on this LP the instrument has plenty of presence, is firmly placed within the image, and cleanly focused. One can say much the same about all of the instruments: they are anchored within a broad sound-stage which has depth and is nicely balanced. The sound also has bloom within an acoustic that has an ideal reverberation time, and, being analogue, timbres are caught in a way no digital recording can equal. Classicalsource
There are two slight criticisms. The upper treble is a little muted (but the same can be said of the CD transfer, so one presumes the master-tapes are at fault), and the dynamic range is restricted at forte and above, but that was – and is – a problem found on many chamber-music recordings. Nonetheless the overall effect is very natural.
A perusal of string quintets throughout history leaves one with the impression that their creators wish to bestow a powerful impact upon the small group of musicians. And it is no different with Dvořák’s Quintet in G major: a double bass, instead of the usual second cello, paints with broad strokes in the lengthy score whose first movement almost takes on symphonic dimensions. Here, the insistent, broad theme is presented in snappy cascades of sound. The cantilena, supported by a scurrying second subject, is followed by a frenzied Scherzo, which is steeped in Czech folk music under Dvořák’s distinctive style. The third movement (Poco andante) is highly meditative and is constructed with layers of one and the same basic motif, which soon is intensified with pulsating quavers and finally evolves in rising melodic elements.
The Finale is filled with fresh melodies and spiced with subtle motivic development, which is pleasant on the ear in all its complexity. It is not surprising, therefore, that Dvořák won an important prize for his Quintet.
Recording: June 1971 at Boston Symphony Hall by Günter Hermanns
Production: Thomas Mowrey
A1 Allegro Con Fuoco
A2 Intermezzo. Andante Religioso. Molto Adagio
A3 Scherzo. Allegro Vivace - Trio. L'Istesso Tempo, Quasi Allegretto
B1 Poco Andante
B2 Finale. Allegro Assai
Cello – Jules Eskin
Composed By – Antonín Dvořák
Double Bass – Henry Portnoi
Engineer [Recording] – Günter Hermanns
Ensemble – Boston Symphony Chamber Players
Liner Notes – Jiří Fukač
Producer – Karl Faust, Thomas W. Mowrey*
Recording Supervisor – Thomas Mowrey
Viola – Burton Fine
Violin [1. Violine] – Joseph Silverstein
Violin [2. Violine] – Max Hobart
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.