AAA 100% Analogue This LP was Remastered using Pure Analogue Components Only from the Master Tapes through to the Cutting Head
Speakers Corner / Columbia - MS 6125 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl
AAA 100% Analogue - Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio
Limited Edition - Pressed at Pallas
Speakers Corner 25 Years pure Analogue
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If one is to believe the comments of renowned contemporaries, the premiere of Beethoven’s "Kreutzer" Sonata in a Viennese concert hall must have been a highly risky venture. The ink was still wet on the manuscript when the English violin virtuoso George Bridgetower received his part only a few hours before the performance, and Beethoven partially improvised the piano part using a half-completed manuscript – a good 30 minutes long! As a contrast, Zino Francescatti and Robert Casadeus have prepared themselves well for a well-founded, detailed and exciting rendering of this grand and complex chamber work.
The slow introduction unfolds with anticipatory tension in the powerful key of A major, and then the violin enters into a fiery yet elegant dialogue with the evenly matched piano, all testifying to the absolute mastery of this exceptional duo. In the slow movement, the musical notions – carefully thought through yet not brooding – flow with intensity and melodic beauty. With joyous exuberance the two musicians present the final interplay, which alternates between melodic exaltation and sudden outbursts. This superb performance of one of the great showpieces of musical literature has certainly earned a hearty applause.
Although the "Kreutzer" Sonata, Op. 47, is dedicated to Rodolphe Kreutzer, the original dedication was to George P. Bridgetower (1779-1860), for whom the piece was written. Bridgetower, an African-Polish violinist who lived in London, toured Europe in 1802 and 1803. Upon his arrival in Vienna he was introduced by Prince Lichnowsky to Beethoven, who set about fashioning two movements to precede a finale he had originally intended for the Op. 30/1 sonata. Because the date for Bridgetower's concert had been set, Beethoven had to work quickly to complete the virtuosic piece before its first performance by Bridgetower and the composer on May 24, 1803.
Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831) was a French violinist of great renown whom Beethoven met in Vienna in 1798. Beethoven's decision to dedicate the sonata to Kreutzer instead of Bridgetower was probably related to his intended move to Paris and a wish to ingratiate himself with French musical luminaries. (Beethoven was also considering "Bonaparte" as a title for his Third Symphony.) Legend has it that Beethoven changed the dedication because he and Bridgetower quarreled over a woman. Kreutzer most likely never knew of the dedication, and it is almost certain that he never played the piece.
The "Kreutzer" Sonata was published in 1805 by Simrock in Bonn and Birchall in London. Beethoven described the piece as "written in a very concertante style, like that of a concerto," explaining the internal conflict generally associated with his larger works. Furthermore, the piano writing is much more powerful than in preceding works, anticipating the piano sonatas Opp. 53 and 54.
Beethoven's "new path" is everywhere evident in the first movement of the "Kreutzer" Sonata. The only slow introduction Beethoven ever wrote for a violin sonata is actually the only portion of the movement in A major, which gives way to A minor at the beginning of the Presto sonata-form section. Although thematic material is very abundant, Beethoven focuses on one theme from the closing group throughout the development, which spirals progressively deeper into flat-key territory, realizing the implications of B flat major's brief appearance early in the exposition. Development of the first theme does not occur until the lengthy, weighty coda, which is much more symphonic than chamber-style in conception. The vast dimensions and free formal treatment of Beethoven's great middle-period works are not far away.
More lighthearted than the preceding movement, the central Andante, in F major, is a set of variations. The third of the four variations is in the tonic minor. In each variation, Beethoven stretches the melodic aspect of the theme nearly beyond recognition while maintaining the harmonic progression and pattern of repetition of the original.
A tarantella rhythm and 6/8 time contribute to the finale's atmosphere of interminable forward motion, which is enhanced by the introduction of the first theme in a fugal treatment, The sonata-form movement features a second theme on the dominant and in 2/4, which shifts immediately back to 6/8 for the closing material. Because it was originally intended for the Sonata in A major, Op. 30/1, the finale was extant months before Beethoven composed the first two movements. The prominence of F major in the development section of the finale may have prompted Beethoven to compose the Andante in that key, as well as to touch on flat keys in the first movement. In Tolstoy's novella The Kreutzer Sonata, the work symbolizes the ultimate in the powerful sensuous appeal of music
Zino Francescatti, violin
Robert Casadesus, piano
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Sonata No. 9 "Kreutzer"
Sonata No. 1
Recorded 1958 in Paris
25 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.
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