Speakers Corner / Columbia - MS 7173 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - 4260019714671
Pure Analogue Audiophile Mastering - Pressed at Pallas - Limited Edition
Nevertheless this is the finest LP I have heard featuring Glen Gould and makes the dead,
compressed Glen Gould Original Jackets CD transfer sound completely unacceptable. Classical Source
Alexander Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 23
Serge Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major, Op. 83
Glenn Gould's highly self-willed art of piano playing has not only contributed to the building of a myth around his artistic personality, but also placed several works from the vast piano repertoire under the magnifying glass (as it were) in musical life. One such work is Scriabin's Piano Sonata No. 3 whose psychological, cyclical programme is held together by the theme, which recurs throughout the four movements. Unlike many other recordings, in Gould's hands the piece takes on a pleasantly non-romantic pathos. Gould subdivides the various states of mind through many breathing spaces and softens the tone to pianissimo, thus forcing the listener to hold his breath and concentrate wholly upon the finely woven counterpoint.
In contrast, Prokofiev's Piano Sonata in B flat major is overwhelmingly raging with its hammering staccatos, yet not omitting to add a bold, and at times derisive character. The slow second movement is at times bell-like, and filled with a great radiance and a fine sparkle. It is followed by a final movement, which lasts several minutes and has a steely, aggressive nature. As incomparable as the works are in their structure, they both explore the mental extremes of human emotions.
• Pure Analogue Audiophile Mastering
Glenn Gould, piano
Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)
Sonata No. 3 in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 23
1. I. Dramatico
2. II. Allegretto
3. III. Andante
4. IV. Presto con fuoco
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Sonata No. 7 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83
1. I. Allegro inquieto
2. II. Andante caloroso
3. III. Precipitato
Recorded July 1967 & January, February and June 1968 at Columbia 30th Street Studio by Fred Plaut.
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.