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Jazz Fusion/Soul

Lonne Liston Smith

Love is the Answer & bonus tracks

The Main Ingredient

Euphrates River

Benny Golson

Killer Joe & bonus tracks

Tower Of Power

Ain't Nothin' Stoppin' Us Now

 

Vocalion SACD New Releases – June 2017

During the 1970s, several British and European artists signed to Philips found their music enjoying a second life in 4-channel quadraphonic sound as part of the company’s Japanese 4DX series. For the June 2017 release, Vocalion has sourced six superb albums from the 4DX archive and repackaged them across three individual SACDs.

First up is a pair of albums by British session trumpeter, arranger and composer Ray Davies, in which he leads his group The Button Down Brass. As one of London’s first-call session players, Ray has appeared on thousands of recordings, among them numerous pop hits including Downtown (Petula Clark), It’s Not Unusual (Tom Jones), The Last Waltz (Engelbert Humperdinck) and Big Spender (Shirley Bassey). “It would be easier to name the pop records I wasn’t on,” he says.

Comprised of Ray’s fellow session musicians, The Button Down Brass had its genesis in a session he did for Reader’s Digest during the mid-60s. “They wanted something like Herb Alpert, two trumpets and a trombone, small group sound. It was for these records they sent out in America – record clubs – and they sold hundreds of thousands of the things. They didn’t know what to call it, and the guy from Reader’s Digest came up with Button Down Brass. Everybody said it sounded nice, a bit unusual – Ray Davies and The Button Down Brass. Other people used different names for brass, and they never took off. But Button Down Brass stuck.” The Button Down Brass soon became recording artists themselves, releasing a series of easy listening albums on the Fontana label. By the early ’70s, the group had switched to Pye, under the aegis of staff producer Tony Palmer. But when Palmer went freelance, he took The Button Down Brass with him, signing them to Philips.

The albums made as part of that deal (and the subject of Vocalion’s reissue) – 1974’s Themes from The Exorcist, The French Connection, The Sting and other great films and 1975’s Flashpoint – both feature hard-hitting film and TV music from the pens of Lalo Schifrin, Patrick Williams, Quincy Jones, Joseph Koo, Elmer Bernstein and others. In Ray Davies’ exciting arrangements, classic themes like Bullitt, Enter the Dragon, Kojak and Magnum Force come up afresh, with plenty of solo space for session stalwarts Alan Hawkshaw (keyboards), Alan Parker (guitars) and Alf Bigden (drums). And the quadraphonic element makes all the difference; for example, Alan Hawkshaw’s outlandish Moog effects in Enter the Dragon sit in the back speakers while the brass section screams away in the front ones.This reissue marks both albums’ debut in SACD or indeed any digital format, and contains the original stereo and quadraphonic mixes.

Vocalion favourite Paul Mauriat makes a welcome return with a further two albums, Penelope (1972) and Holidays (1973), which presented quadraphonic remixes of 24 titles culled from his back catalogue. Originally produced for the Japanese 4DX series, this reissue makes them widely available for the first time.

Completing the June 2017 release is the Swingle Singers 1972 album The Four Seasons, an utterly charming close-harmony vocal interpretation of pieces by Vivaldi, Pachelbel, Bach, Marcello and Mozart. These arrangements by group founder Ward Swingle, with their characteristically light and jazzy touch, open out beautifully in the quadraphonic mixes, the voices’ ethereal quality enveloping the listener.

Everything has been remastered from the original stereo and quadraphonic tapes, and these SACDs additionally include high resolution stereo versions of each album.

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Dutton Epoch – May 2017


Lewis Foreman reports on Dutton Epoch revivals and musical explorations
Session photographs by the author

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Scott of the Antarctic – the complete score

Arriving in Dundee, on 31 August 2016, for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s recording of Vaughan Williams’s complete score for the film Scott of the Antarctic, one was immediately struck by the sight of Scott’s Antarctic research ship Discovery moored alongside the new museum in its name, almost opposite the station. Discovery was Terra Nova’s predecessor, the vessel of Scott’s expedition of 1901-4.

It is a revelation to hear, in sequence, every note that Vaughan Williams wrote late in 1947 for the then unmade Ealing Studios’ film of Scott of the Antarctic. There have been previous attempts to revisit some of the unheard music Vaughan Williams sketched for the film, but now conductor Martin Yates, with the support of the composer’s Estate, has transcribed from the original manuscripts all the music, which comprises some 41 beautifully rounded numbers. In providing this door to all the music Vaughan Williams conceived for the story of Scott and his companions, Yates has achieved something truly remarkable.

Vaughan Williams subsequently reworked some of this material in the Sinfonia Antartica, but to hear his first vivid reaction to the story – before the film was shot – is extraordinary, not least for the speed of its composition (he wrote an hour and twenty minutes of music in the space of just two or three weeks). This epic musical canvas stands independently beside the Sinfonia Antartica as a gripping symphonic experience in its own right.

It is worth reminding ourselves that British film music came of age during and immediately after the Second World War. The groundwork for Vaughan Williams’s achievement had been prepared by considerable activity in the 1930s, and we might, in retrospect, mark out the work of the GPO Film Unit (one of whose luminaries was the young Benjamin Britten) as well as the appearance of a number of notable films.

Possibly the most celebrated British film music before the war was Arthur Bliss’s Things to Come. Although piano arrangements of several numbers from Bliss’s score appeared as sheet music, public interest was only fully engaged by Walton’s Shakespearian scores, the many wartime documentaries with music by all the leading British composers, and such popular 1940s films as Oliver Twist (Arnold Bax), Dangerous Moonlight (Richard Addinsell), The Winslow Boy (William Alwyn), Anna Karenina (Constant Lambert) and Christopher Columbus (Arthur Bliss). British film music’s standing was reinforced by the Daily Mail British Film Festival at the Leicester Square Theatre in 1946, a well-publicised British Film Festival Concert in Prague, Louis Levy’s film music concerts and the BBC’s repeated programming of extracts from various scores.


Ernest Irving (on the podium) and Vaughan Williams at the original Scott of the Antarctic recording session

Vaughan Williams was therefore writing for a receptive public, and had started scoring films during the war. He approached Muir Mathieson in 1940, and quickly wrote the music for 49th Parallel, Coastal Command, The People’s Land and The Story of a Flemish Farm. In 1947, Ernest Irving, Music Director of Ealing Studios, asked Vaughan Williams to score the film Scott of the Antarctic. “I believe,” wrote Vaughan Williams, “that film music is capable of becoming, and to a certain extent already is, a fine art … perhaps one day a great film will be built up on the basis of music.” As already mentioned, the writing of his Scott film music was accomplished quickly. By the end of 1947, he had produced a substantial number of separate movements, some in full score – in fact, Vaughan Williams presented the music as a sequence of coherent musical miniatures. And this is all the more remarkable given the extent of the score, which had been written without having seen anything on screen; he worked only from Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s book The Worst Journey in the World, with its haunting photographs, and which in effect served as a draft script.

Vaughan Williams obtained the director’s enthusiastic backing for his approach, which was not to illustrate individual moments in close detail. He was clearly fired by the project; armed with a copy of the script, he went home and set to work. From the dating in Vaughan Williams’s letters, we find that by the time Irving was ready to send him a timed list of the cues requiring music, the score illustrating the composer’s own selection of episodes in the story had already been posted. Irving wrote to Vaughan Williams on 9 January 1948 thanking him for the scores, which he said he “devoured with avidity.” He announced that he would like to record the music at Denham Studios on 6 February, and noting that it included a vocalising soprano, asked the composer to name his preferred soloist – it would be Mabel (later better known as Margaret) Ritchie. In this new recording, Ilona Domnich perfectly catches the required vocal nuance.

Vaughan Williams’s first response to the project came before any of the film was shot. The fact that Irving recorded most of the music immediately means that he had already experienced it live and had it in his head. It also meant that Irving and his staff were able to use a patchwork of extracts of Vaughan Williams’s music as needed. The film music historian John Huntley noted that the composer didn’t seem at all phased when Irving and the production team started to cut the music to the film and found that it fitted.

In a letter to Vaughan Williams, Irving wrote, “Regarding the timings, I am afraid no amount of bullying on my part will produce measurements of film that has not yet been shot.” In fact, the strategy of recording the music so early worked in Vaughan Williams’s favour, as stock colour footage of the panoramic views of the Antarctic was used, and, in some instances it would seem, additional footage was available to accommodate the span of the music. This may possibly be the case in Snow Plain, which runs almost five minutes. Thus, it was possible to argue for the reinstatement of stock colour footage of Antarctica that had already been edited out, which in turn allowed some of the composer’s big set pieces to be used complete. Indeed, it could be argued that the music made the colour footage possible in the cinema.

Typical of the previously unheard discoveries is the lovely pastoral miniature for Oriana, Wilson’s wife. Atmospheric and delicate use of the strings is also notable in the two connected numbers for Scott’s wife Kathleen, as she models a sculpture of her husband’s head (still to be seen at London’s Waterloo Place, below lower Regent Street). Little of her music survived onto the soundtrack, however, and even then is so softly heard as to lose any impact. As a standalone piece, it comes into its own.

In his Scott film music, Vaughan Williams employed an innovative sound palette, especially in the use of percussion including tam-tam, tubular bells, glockenspiel and xylophone. The orchestral piano is also used as part of the tuned percussion, while in the original score recorded here he asked for wind machine, which in the film was replaced by real wind sounds. It was restored when the music was reworked for the Sinfonia Antartica.

In addition to vocalising soprano solo, Vaughan Williams’s score called for women’s choir. Irving was initially worried that the soprano voice might conflict with the dialogue, though in the event the disembodied, ethereal effect caused no problem. We first hear the voices in the second movement, Antarctic Prologue, which in the film appears as a brief atmospheric prologue before the beginning of the story in England is told. Voices later appear in Kathleen 1 (the sculpture scene), Scott and Oates in the Rain, The Death of Oates, and the female choir without solo in the Blizzard. Other features typical of Vaughan Williams’s use of the orchestra include the organ, which adds a pagan power to Aurora 1, the music when they are on the glacier (Climbing the Glacier, Scott on the Glacier and Descending the Glacier) and the final bleak scenes of The Discovery of the Tent and the Bodies and the End Music. Characteristic Vaughan Williams wind solos include the cor anglais in Snow Plain and the rumbustious euphonium in Base Camp.

When Martin Yates and the RSNO recorded the vocal music, the placing in the hall was very effective for those present, the orchestra on the platform and, facing down the hall towards them, the wind machine. Between them was soprano Ilona Domnich and, to her right in the gallery, the women’s choir. It was fascinating to hear live in the hall and is vividly caught in Dutton Epoch’s recorded sound.

Less than half the music that Vaughan Williams wrote was used in the film. The music has become familiar through its later use in the Sinfonia Antartica, the development of which took three years, from 1949 to 1952, and was first heard in Manchester on 14 January 1953.

The scene on Scott’s ship Terra Nova at Cardiff docks (actually filmed at Falmouth) features one atypical number – possibly not by Vaughan Williams – the Queen’s Birthday March, in popular Edwardian style, though there is no credit to another hand. The Terra Nova’s departure features Kathleen and a tearful Oriana standing in the crowd on the quayside, to the strains of Vaughan Williams’s brass harmonisation of Will Ye No Come Back Again, which includes a telling four-bar coda separated from the tune, but unheard in the film. After the ship has sailed, Scott opens a telegram that had arrived as they left, and reads Amundsen’s announcement that he is going south. Vaughan Williams provides a ten-bar cue, unused in the film.

The great strength of Vaughan Williams’s score is in its underpinning of the grandeur and immensity of nature and the ice, together with contrasted episodes featuring the penguins, the ponies and natural phenomena such as the aurora and aphelion (the return of the sun, when the earth is farthest from the sun and the sun smallest in the sky). This, the main musical sequence, with its heroic washes of arpeggiated woodwind and fortissimo brass fanfares leading to the strings’ affirmative melody, is launched by Terra Nova’s departure from Ross Island.

When Vaughan Williams’s complete score is heard in the sequence of the story, it becomes apparent that he had provided the film with a remarkable extra dimension, rather as William Walton had been instrumental in creating much of the impact of Olivier’s Henry V, five years before. But more than that, we now have a vast quasi-symphonic canvas on an almost Wagnerian scale, and in its own way is as satisfying an achievement as the Sinfonia Antartica, which it spawned three years later.

William Walton and Arthur Bliss: Violin Concertos

Dutton Epoch has recorded the Walton and Bliss Violin Concertos with violinist Lorraine McAslan, but using the original orchestration of the Walton, unheard since 1940. The idea of recording the original version of the Walton Concerto originated after comparing the two orchestrations of the Walton Viola Concerto, where the original still has its adherents. When considering the Violin Concerto, one was faced with trying to appreciate the very different orchestration of the first version in the now rather dim sound of its only (78-rpm) recording – in which the commissioning dedicatee, Jascha Heifetz, was the soloist. After the earliest performances, Walton rescored it but without altering the solo part.

So when the proposal to record the first version in modern sound was being discussed, the present writer approached Oxford University Press, was sympathetically received, and visited Oxford to view the score and the original parts. In doing so, it became clear that while the original solo violin part – as published in 1939 – had not changed, Walton had made dramatic changes to the orchestration, reinforcing the romantic nature of the work in the version by which we know it today. Permission was given to record the first version and we are delighted that it is now appearing.

The sessions took place at Watford Colosseum. Presented in the clarity of a Dutton Epoch recording, we can now fully appreciate Walton’s first thoughts, which perhaps are more a reflection of a pre-Second World War musical world. In some places, the orchestration is completely different, while in others the percussion – murky in the original wartime recording – changes; we might feel the loss of the castanets and glockenspiel in the second movement, and gong and bass drum in the third, to be regrettable. Roy Douglas, who prepared many of Walton’s scores for publication, certainly felt that he had gone too far in removing much of the percussion. Now listeners can make their own assessment, with the eloquent violin of Lorraine McAslan and the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Martin Yates to guide them.

The Walton and the Bliss Violin Concertos make a compelling programme, and the Bliss Concerto of 1954/55 remains perhaps one of the most impressive British violin concertos not in the day-to-day repertoire. Lorraine McAslan not only underlines its lyrical qualities but also she plays every note – reinstating the minor cuts that are sometimes made.

Hubert Clifford: The Cowes Suite and other works

Australian-born composer Hubert Clifford started his musical career in Melbourne, but came to England in 1930 and remained there for the rest of his career. He started by teaching music in a boys’ grammar school, moved to the BBC as wartime Empire Director of Music and composed much library music for media use, which is still heard today. He became Alexander Korda’s Music Director at London Films. Among other coups, he commissioned zither player Anton Karas for Carol Reed’s film The Third Man, and whose Harry Lime theme went round the world. Clifford later became the BBC’s Head of Light Music.

Although many of Clifford’s later scores have been recorded, a good number of the earlier ones remain unknown, many of which were written in Australia where, in the 1920s, he was a pupil of Fritz Hart. These and his film music have remained in the composer’s original manuscript. We thus started this project with a pile of fading manuscript scores, several bearing the original Melbourne first performance programmes. In association with the composer’s daughter, the present writer contacted an informal team of copyists and arrangers – Graham Parlett, David Bednall and conductor Ronald Corp ‒ who have originated performing materials thanks to the modern miracle of Sibelius software. Also included is what may be Clifford’s last work, The Cowes Suite, commissioned by the BBC and played from printed copies provided by the BBC Music Library.

Clifford was a musician of many parts and this wide-ranging exploration of his art, covering a 30-year span, allows us to hear his tuneful early orchestral works written in Melbourne, including Dargo: A Mountain Rhapsody, a glorious Moeranesque evocation of his childhood home. Two of his film scores, Left of the Line (1944) and Hunted (1952), also receive first recordings. Commissioned by the Canadian Army Film Unit, Left of the Line was written for a documentary about the Canadian forces at D-Day. Ronald Corp has edited the manuscript into a continuous narrative, the music underscoring a succession of comparatively brief episodes on the screen.

Clifford’s music for Hunted, Dirk Bogarde’s first high profile feature, takes us to the black and white world of the early 1950s, in an energetic and emotionally inflected score, the tone set by the arresting title music. In the film, the music consists of discrete numbers often separated by long passages without music. Graham Parlett has edited Clifford’s score into a vivid concert suite.

The Cowes Suite, Clifford’s light-hearted commission for the BBC’s 1958 Light Music Festival, celebrates famous yachtsman Uffa Fox, and provides colourful contrast, completing a tuneful and unfamiliar programme. The BBC Concert Orchestra, originally intended for The Cowes Suite’s first performance, have light music in their veins and throw off Clifford’s music, under the spirited direction of Ronald Corp, in their usual polished style.

Cécile Chaminade: Callirhoë: Ballet Symphonique & Concertstück for piano and orchestra

Conductor Martin Yates pointed out the remarkable qualities of the comparatively few large-scale orchestral works by French composer Cécile Chaminade, best known for her piano miniatures, some of them not quite as easy as many drawing room pianists might have wished. The search for a coupling for Chaminade’s Concertstück Op. 40 for piano and orchestra, and wondering about the four-movement ballet suite from Callirhoë, led to Martin’s discovery of her “ballet symphonique” Callirhoë Op. 37, running nearly fifty minutes. Discovering that both works were premiered in the early spring of 1888, they seemed an obvious coupling.

The complete Callirhoë is a world premiere recording. In fact, it is the first hearing of the complete ballet for very many years – can it really be over a century? – and what a delightful and varied discovery it proves to be; surely a score that needs only to be heard to find producers wanting to see it danced again.

As mentioned, Chaminade has been remembered for her piano miniatures, but pianist Victor Sangiorgio’s brilliant performance in the Concertstück reminds us of what a romantic and affecting composer Chaminade could be when given an extended musical canvas. Sangiorgio’s exhilarating fluency reinforces the image of a French romantic composer at the very peak of her art.

Maximilian Steinberg: Symphony No. 4 Turksib & Violin Concerto

On 21 and 22 June 2016, the Dutton Epoch team were in Glasgow, their first time with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the new RSNO Centre at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. The RSNO have vacated their long-familiar home, Henry Wood Hall, in the former Trinity Church, where over the years Dutton Epoch has recorded more than 40 CD programmes. It was with the music of Maximillian Steinberg that the bright new hall greeted the Dutton Epoch team.

Steinberg was a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov – also his son-in-law – in pre-Revolutionary Russia, exhibiting all the orchestral and lyrical characteristics that one might expect from such a heritage. (Steinberg himself would later be a teacher of Shostakovich.) The composer of five symphonies, Steinberg wrote just one instrumental concerto, the unpublished Violin Concerto; his last work, it was completed in 1946, the year of his death.

In the concerto, violinist Sergey Levitin gives a spellbinding performance, seemingly oblivious of the music’s many technical demands. Indeed, Levitin encompasses the virtuosic writing with complete authority while finding its passionate and romantic manner. The concerto’s first movement, unlike the symphony, to quote Guy Rickards’ booklet notes, “is valedictory and autumnal (especially in the central span).” But the music ends with an irrepressible scherzando rounded off, like the symphony, in a sunlit C major. This is a major yet forgotten score by a significant composer of his time.

The Turksib Symphony – Steinberg’s fourth – completed in 1933, celebrates the building of the Turkestan-Siberia Railway.

Using Kazakh folk melodies and in four richly scored movements, it is quite different to the Violin Concerto. This, the acceptable face of Socialist Realism, is a gripping and outgoing score that invites repeated listens. Martin Yates delivers it all with punch and vigour, and the RSNO respond with great panache.

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Dutton Epoch Quadraphonic SACD Releases – January 2017


January 2017 sees an exciting addition to our range of SACD titles. On this occasion we have delved into the archives of CBS and RCA for five new reissues on the Dutton Epoch label, each featuring some of classical music’s most eminent artists. Recorded in the early and mid-1970s, these albums were issued originally in discrete four-channel (quadraphonic) sound. And like the SACD-quadraphonic reissues on Epoch sister-label Vocalion, these SACD reissues include both the quadraphonic and stereo recordings in high-resolution transfers alongside the stereo recording in regular 16-bit, 44.1-khz CD sound, making them fully compatible with standard CD players and SACD-specific players. Michael J. Dutton has transferred the music exquisitely from the stereo and quadraphonic analogue masters, which has ensured that full justice is done to the superb quality of the original recordings.


Guitar virtuoso Julian Bream turns to the lute for a programme of baroque music (some of it in his own orchestral transcriptions), including concertos by Vivaldi and Handel as well as the lesser-known Karl Kohaut (1726-84). The product of a family of Bohemian musicians, Kohaut was considered the finest lutenist of the day and spent much of his career in Vienna where he wrote a number of symphonies and lute works. An added extra takes the form of Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, in which Bream returns to the guitar for a sumptuous reading of this timeless work. These recordings, with sympathetic backing from the Monteverdi Orchestra under John Eliot Gardner’s direction, were made for RCA in 1974 and ’75 by Bob Auger – an early advocate of quadraphonic sound in the classical field – at London venues Rosslyn Hill Chapel and the Barking and Walthamstow town halls.


The baroque theme is revisited in two CBS albums by Israeli-born violinist Pinchas Zukerman. Recorded at the Abbey Road Studios by Robert Gooch, Roy Emerson and Mike Ross-Trevor, both are devoted to Vivaldi’s concertos. Drawn from the great master’s Opus No. 8, Concertos Nos. 1-4, better known as The Four Seasons, constitute the first album, while the second includes Concertos No. 5-8, the first two bearing the titles La tempesta di mare and Il piacere respectively. Zukerman is not only the soloist – he also conducts the English Chamber Orchestra, with harpsichordist Philip Ledger providing the continuo part.


English-born organist Edward “E” Power Biggs immigrated to the US in the early ’30s where he recorded prolifically, in the process sparking a revival of interest in organ music and its composers. Among his latter recordings is a 1973 CBS album of two concertos by Liechtensteinian composer, organist and pedagogue Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901): the F Major Concerto of 1884 and the G Minor Concerto of 1894. “His contribution to organ literature was without parallel,” Biggs observed in his liner notes. “For, in the flowering of the romantic in music, it was Rheinberger who gave renewed life to the organ concerto – a form that, in the 18th century, had enjoyed a vigorous birth through the genius of Handel, Haydn and Mozart, but that had not suited the composition techniques of 19th-century composers such as Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann.” In addition to these immaculate performances, with Biggs accompanied by The Columbia Symphony conducted by Maurice Peress, the Epoch reissue includes another fascinating artefact – a rare quadraphonic EP in which Biggs provides commentary on the history of the organ concerto aided by examples of Rheinberger’s music.


Artur Rubinstein and The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy feature in a pair of RCA albums from the early ’70s. First up is Rachmaninov’s immortal Second Piano Concerto, recorded here in the wonderful acoustic of Philadelphia’s Scottish Rite Cathedral. In his memoirs the composer recounted the circumstances behind the Second Concerto’s creation: in 1900, up against a compositional block, he went to a Dr. Nikolai Dahl, a psychiatrist specialising in autosuggestion, and was virtually hypnotised into overcoming his hang-up, and then created in almost a single burst of energy both this concerto and the second two-piano suite. Rubinstein’s and Ormandy’s interpretative genius combine in this moving version of one of Rachmaninov’s best-loved works. The second album, which, remarkably, was recorded in just two three-hour sessions at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music, is concerned with the music of Manuel de Falla and Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns. De Falla is represented with the three-movement Nights in the Gardens of Spain (Noches en los Jardines de España), a brooding evocation of Andalusia by night that has been described as “the apotheosis of Andalusian music.” The Second Piano Concerto of Saint-Saëns, who is best known for his suite The Carnival of the Animals, was composed in 1868 to a commission from conductor-pianist Anton Rubinstein – and here it is given illustrious treatment by the Rubinstein-Ormandy team.

In addition to being one of the 20th century’s great conductors, Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) devoted much energy to transcribing works of Johann Sebastian Bach, tailoring them to suit the very special qualities of the great Philadelphia Orchestra with which his name was synonymous. A sequence of albums for RCA in the 1970s marked Stokowski’s last recordings, and material from that period comprises the final title in this batch of Dutton Epoch SACD reissues.

1975’s Stokowski conducts Bach – The Great Transcriptions, recorded by Bob Auger at St. Giles’ Church, Cripplegate, London, includes, among others, orchestral versions of Chaconne (from Partita No. 2 in D minor for solo violin), Preludio (from Partita No. 3 in E major for solo violin) and Aria (Air on the G-String) (from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major). Of the album’s final piece, Komm, süsser Tod, Stokwoski said, “This poignant and soul-searching melody was composed by Bach about 1736. It is one of the melodies published by Schemelli in his book of sacred songs, Musicalisches Gesangbuch. Bach edited the songbook, providing several of his own compositions and adding figured bass to other melodies. In giving this sublime melody orchestral expression, I have tried to imagine what Bach would do had he the rich resources of the orchestra of today at his disposal.” This release is completed by Stokowski’s arrangement of Brünnhilde’s Immolation, part of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, the last of the cycle of four operas making up Der Ring des Nibelungen. Using RCA’s multi-track analogue masters from the 1974 sessions at Abbey Road Studios, Michael J. Dutton has created a superb new quadraphonic mix, and one that is a considerable improvement over the 1990s Dolby surround sound CD reissue.

Two additional SACD reissues on the Vocalion label tie-in nicely with the Epoch titles, namely a disc of symphonic works by Hungarian composer Miklós Rózsa, and a disc of music by Villa-Lobos coupled with music by Spanish composers, played by the Andre Kostelanetz Orchestra. Recorded in Rome, the Rózsa conducts Rózsa album was issued by RCA in 1965 on a stereo LP; for this reissue Michael J. Dutton has remixed it in surround sound from the original multi-track tapes. The two Kostelanetz albums, Plays Music of Villa-Lobos and Conducts Music from Spain, both from 1974, were to all intents and purposes demonstration discs, designed to show off quadraphonic sound. The first includes a suite from the operetta Magdalena, adapted by Robert R. Wright and George Forrest from Villa-Lobos’s original score, and the programme is filled out with such well-loved pieces as Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, The Little Train of the Caipira and Prelude – Introduction (No. 1 from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4) in which Kostelanetz is the piano soloist. The second album features such staples of the Spanish repertoire as Jota (Final Dance) from De Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat, Albéniz’s Triana from Iberia and Granados’s The Lady and the Nightingale from Goyescas – and several items feature American soprano Maralin Niska.

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“Quadraphonic sound”

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“Quadraphonic sound”

It’s one of those phrases that evokes images of some of the groovy excesses of the 70s, along with pet rocks, deep pile carpeted everything, and bell bottom jeans. The prevailing wisdom in the decades since quad’s commercial demise in the second half of the decade has been that it was a blip on the musical radar, a gimmick that rightly never caught on. The truth of the matter is not only more complex than that; it’s also more intriguing as well.

The move from mono to stereo records in the late 1950’s ushered in an unparalleled decade of growth for the music industry, and so ubiquitous was the acceptance of the new format that within a few years of its introduction the de facto name of the device you played your records on went from being “the hi-fi” to “the stereo”. It was with that success in mind that nearly a decade later the recording industry was hoping to capture that same lightning in a bottle again, by introducing 4-channel discrete “quadraphonic” sound for the consumer. While the decision to put two more speakers behind the listener may have its roots in somewhat cynical financial motives (it is the music business, after all), what producers, engineers and musicians who embraced the format quickly realised was that a four speaker setup opened up a world of new sonic possibilities. This didn’t just mean putting sounds directly behind the listener; rather that because the four speakers actually formed four stereo sound fields (front, back, left and right sides) it was now possible to place sounds anywhere in 360 degree radius around the listener. You could have a horn section beside you, or backing vocalists or a choir behind you, sit on the drummer’s throne surrounded by drums, or feel like you’re in the studio with a rock band, guitars howling behind you as the rhythm section pounds in front. This 360° sound field also for the first time afforded the possibility of putting listeners in to acoustic spaces; whether it was experiencing sound reverberating off the cavernous walls behind you in of the historic cathedrals of Europe during an organ recital, or slapback echo from a rock band hitting the walls in Columbia’s Studio B in New York, for the first time the listener could be in the performance rather than a passive observer from afar.

There had been sporadic releases of quadraphonic recordings by smaller labels as early as 1969, but the quadraphonic era was really inaugurated when RCA Records released more than 50 albums from their back catalog on quadraphonic 8-track tape in December 1970, including releases from The Guess Who, The Friends Of Distinction, Henry Mancini, Jose Feliciano, Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops, Eugene Ormandy and many others. The next major player to enter the quad marketplace was CBS, when in January 1972 their Columbia and Epic labels released several dozen back catalog titles remixed for quad, including albums from Janis Joplin, Santana, Johnny Cash, Johnny Mathis, Sly & The Family Stone, Ray Conniff, Percy Faith, Leonard Bernstein and others. Both CBS and RCA continued to release quad product throughout 1972, joined by a growing chorus of other labels including ABC/Dunhill, A&M, Atlantic, EMI, Decca, London, and Vanguard. By the time Elektra, Warner Bros., CTI/Kudu, and UA had released quad product in 1973 however, it was becoming clear that the industry was becoming locked in to an intractable format war when it came to LPs, the dominant delivery format of the time. The recording industry believed strongly that one of the main reasons for the success of stereo records in the 60s was that they were backwards-compatible with mono turntables, and so 10 years later they mandated the same compatibility for quadraphonic records: they had to play back in quad, stereo or mono without any detrimental effect to the sound. Making stereo records that were mono-compatible had been a relatively easy task, but fitting 4 channels where there had previously been 2 (and before that, 1) was infinitely more difficult, and there were competing philosophies on how to accomplish this task. On one side there were so-called “matrix” formats (SQ, QS, DY, and EV-4), which used a fancy version of phase shifting to mix 4 channels in to two, and then un-mix them using a decoder on playback. On the other side was the “discrete” format, CD-4, which used a modulation technique similar to the one used to bring stereo sound to FM radio, effectively stacking the rear channels on top of the front ones, and required a special turntable needle and a demodulator to ‘un-stack’ the channels for playback. With considerable sums of money on the line in both hardware and software sales, by 1973 the industry was in a Mexican standoff: Columbia, Epic, Stax, CTI, Vanguard and others released records in the SQ matrix format, ABC/Dunhill, Pye, Project 3, and Ovation released records in QS matrix, and RCA, Warner Bros, Elektra and Atlantic released their records in the CD-4 discrete format.

If this all seems confusing, it’s because it is. Even more detrimentally, it made playback of an extensive quad collection almost prohibitively expensive because none of the various formats were compatible with each other, and each one required its own decoder. If you wanted to listen to Santana, Chicago, Aerosmith, or Pink Floyd in quad you had to buy an SQ decoder, while Steely Dan, B.B. King, Joe Walsh or Keith Jarrett required a QS decoder, and if you wanted to listen to Frank Sinatra, The Doors, Henry Mancini, or Joni Mitchell you needed a CD-4 demodulator and an expensive Shibata tip stylus for your turntable. Buying a 4 channel amplifier and new speakers – a prerequisite for any quad system – was already a significant financial outlay and for many consumers the idea of having to buy several more pieces of outboard gear to deal with the various formats was a step too far. For those who did take the plunge, the results were often underwhelming; early matrix decoders produced very little front to back channel separation, and CD-4 demodulation was temperamental at the best of times, often giving the demodulated sound a gritty, sandpaper-like quality. Despite these drawbacks, quad saw exponential growth in both the number of albums released and sales of product in 1973 through 1975 with even more labels issuing their first quad releases, including Arista and many others.
But in an industry that was selling millions of copies of stereo albums at the time, quad’s status as a niche format was viewed as a failure. A perfect example of this is Santana’s ‘Abraxas’ album: it sold almost 175,000 copies in quad by 1975 (the kind of sales numbers that would have given most bands hit record status) but compared to the over 2 million copies the stereo version had sold by that point, it almost paled in to insignificance. The number of quad releases fell off a cliff in 1976, and by 1978 the industry’s grand experiment with releasing surround sound music was over, at least for a couple of decades anyway.

Ask any fan of quadraphonic sound about its decline and you’ll almost always get a series of wistful “what ifs” in response. “What if the technology was better?”, “what if the format had lasted long enough to make it on to cassette or CD?”, “what if the industry had been able to agree on a single standard? “ The reason for this isn’t mass nostalgia, as a large percentage of the people who collect quadraphonic music these days aren’t even old enough to remember the format in its first go-round. The truth is there’s a magic in these recordings, a sense of three-dimensional engagement that’s still evident even on a crackly LP played through a 40 year old decoder, or a wobbly 8-track tape that truth be told didn’t even sound that great when it first came out of the shrink-wrap. That magic is no accident either as these quadraphonic mixes were produced by many of the top producers and engineers of the 70s, and most of the leading recording studios in the United States and Europe were equipped for quadraphonic mixing. The industry may have stumbled at the final hurdle in the 70s by failing to find a viable consumer format for quadraphonic sound reproduction, but just as with the stereo versions of these albums, they took the utmost in care in creating the quadraphonic mixes. As a result we’re left with a legacy of literally thousands of surround sound mixes, an absolute treasure trove representing every genre of popular and classical music from one of the golden ages of recorded sound.

A lot has changed since the heyday of quadraphonic sound, but as the old adage goes “everything old is new again” and in the late 1990s surround sound in the home had its second coming thanks to home cinema systems and blockbuster movies. This also gave another life to surround sound music, which has seen release across a variety of digital formats over the last 15 years. Amongst these, there’s one that would have blown the minds of the label executives and engineers who were looking for the perfect backwards-compatible surround sound disc in 1970. It’s called Super Audio CD (or SACD) and it’s truly a marvel of modern engineering. SACDs are, in technical terms, a dual layer hybrid disc. What this means in practical terms is that the disc is actually two discs glued together, both facing the same way; the bottom one is a plain old stereo CD, and on top of it is a high-resolution SACD, which can contain both stereo and surround sound versions of the album. What this means is that these discs will play in almost any device: if you put one in a CD player, it will play as a stereo CD, but if you put it in an SACD-capable player it will know to look for the SACD portion and play it back instead, either in high resolution stereo, or surround. There’s no denying CDs sound good, but the high resolution sound produced by SACD is like the equivalent of HD video for your ears, and almost indistinguishable from the original master tapes. SACD has been embraced by several labels, including Vocalion, who care not only about the music they’re releasing but how good it sounds. When you buy an SACD disc, not only do you get the ultimate bargain in a disc that actually contains three versions of the album you’re purchasing (CD stereo, SACD stereo, and SACD surround) you’re also making a vote with your wallet that both sound quality and music in surround matter.

If you have a home cinema system, the good news is that you may already be equipped for SACD playback, with no decoders, demodulators or other fancy hardware gizmos needed. Sony (one of the co-creators of the SACD format) has included SACD playback in almost all of their Blu-Ray players to date, including their latest flagship model, the UHP-H1. If the Blu-Ray or DVD player you have doesn’t support SACD playback there are a number of economical options from a variety of manufacturers including Sony (most BDP series Blu-Ray players and BDV series home theatre in a box systems), Oppo (every model from their highly regarded BDP-105 and 103 down to BDP-80), and many models from Marantz, Denon, and Pioneer, amongst others. Most players will list which disc formats they support in the specifications in the back page of their manuals, and there’s an additional wealth of information available online as well.

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys listening to music you owe it to yourself to unlock the potential that exists within SACD – once you’ve heard your favourite artists in surround sound you’ll never want to hear it any other way.

David Zimmerman
Toronto, November 2016

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Dutton Epoch – July 2016

SESSION MEMORIES & PHOTOGRAPHS BY LEWIS FOREMAN

This release took the Dutton Epoch recording team around the country to four gloriously sounding halls – from Watford to Manchester to Glasgow.
Longest in the can has been Arthur Sullivan’s theatre music for Shakespeare’s Macbeth and The Tempest, with dramatic recitation by Simon Callow and vocal numbers by sopranos Mary Bevan and Fflur Wyn accompanied by the BBC Singers. Also included is the first complete recording of the Marmion Overture (1867). A fine work from Sullivan’s early maturity, its neglect is hard to explain.
Issued as an attractively priced 2-CD set, these recordings feature the BBC Concert Orchestra at Watford Colosseum (Town Hall) and were made during sessions that took place on 3-4 February and 10-11 March 2015. They were also my first sessions with conductor John Andrews, and he knows this composer’s music intimately. I had not encountered soprano Mary Bevan before, and the way her voice soared over the orchestra was enchanting – something I think will thrill all Sullivan devotees.
Simon Callow’s sessions with the Concert Orchestra were superb too, in which he gave renditions of familiar speeches, changing from the witches to Banquo and Macbeth via a range of Scottish accents. Those of the first violins close to him were riveted by his presentation. During the tea breaks, his discussions with John Andrews on points of interpretation found them standing together against the background of a now deserted orchestra.

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When Chris Gardner approached Dutton Epoch about recording his father, John Gardner’s Second Symphony (1984-85) with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, there was much head scratching as to what should be the coupling. John Veale’s Second Symphony was my recommendation, and its acceptance satisfied a longstanding ambition to promote a work I thought would appeal to those who relished the more popular of Malcolm Arnold’s symphonies.
During the last twenty years of his life, I regularly visited Veale at his home at Woodeaton, near Oxford, and he loaned me the symphony’s autograph manuscript – but as I had never heard the work my assessment was based entirely on the score. Conductor Martin Yates announced himself keen after reading it, and the sessions, on 3 and 4 June 2015, would be among Dutton Epoch’s last at the RSNO’s old home of Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow. They were remarkably successful, both works a revelation for their character and memorable style. At one point during the Veale, all in the control suddenly shouted, “It’s becoming John Williams!” Written in 1965, the symphony predates any film score it might have reminded us of, and Veale himself was a significant movie composer.
Gardner’s Second Symphony, written more than three decades after his better-known First Symphony, is in a strongly tonal idiom, and the RSNO’s enchanting performance under Martin Yates reveals the Gardner and the Veale as an ideal pairing.

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Executive producer Mike Dutton (background) and producer Michael Ponder (foreground) in the control room during the John Veale recording

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John Veale

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John Gardner

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Martin Yates conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in John Veale’s Second Symphony at Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow

Arriving at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall on 5 September 2015 for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s recording of Havergal Brian’s Second and Fourteenth symphonies was like opening the door on a magical musical world, for spread out before me were the enormous forces required for the Second Symphony, presided over by Martyn Brabbins, our good-humoured conductor. None of the Second Symphony’s previous performances had employed the huge line-up the score demands – particularly the sixteen horns – but here the detail and grandeur of Brian’s aural canvas was fully recreated.
Having been involved in the Second Symphony’s first performance (in 1973), it has always held a special interest for me. I had been able to discuss the music with Brian himself during the year prior to his death. We spoke about which symphony conductor Leslie Head should consider after the success of his premiere in 1969 of Wine of Summer, and Brian’s 95th birthday concert at St. John’s, Smith Square in 1971. Graham Hatton’s preparation of orchestral parts started and went on through much of 1972. We began writing programme notes in the summer of 1972, consulting the composer. He then produced a bombshell in the shape of an utterly new programme for the work, communicated to me in a pencilled note. It was now, “Man in His Cosmic Loneliness”!

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The first page of Brian’s pencilled note of July 1972 about the Second Symphony

The recording of the Second and Fourteenth symphonies presented a formidable undertaking (in addition to the huge orchestral line-up, both works also require an organ), the extent of the task evident from the photographs. Not least were the sixteen horns, arranged during the Second Symphony’s scherzo in two equal groups on either side of the hall, the regular line-up (of nine players) returning to their customary position for the other movements. During a break, Martyn Brabbins brought the horns together for a group photograph. Lynda Cochrane and Judith Keaney, the pianists, also stopped for a photograph with the conductor. The timpani and percussion were a special group too, stretched across the back of the orchestra where at moments of peak activity there were as many as ten musicians playing simultaneously. Particularly instructive is the view from the organ console, a vantage point from which can be seen the massed forces.
Only occasionally did questions about specific notes cause Martyn Brabbins to examine the score, which illustrates how thoroughly the project had been prepared, with the combined input of the Havergal Brian Society and John Pickard, himself a composer of international standing. To those present it was an unforgettable occasion, and what we now have is the definitive presentation of these two works.

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John Pickard takes a serious view of a query on notes

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Dutton Epoch’s first visit to the Hallé at their light and airy rehearsal hall – St. Peter’s, Manchester – on 5-7 January 2016 was a delightful occasion: we were here with soloist Sarah-Jane Bradley and conductor Stephen Bell to record English music for viola and orchestra. The first day opened with Benjamin Dale’s familiar Romance for Viola, orchestrated by the composer in 1910 and premiered by Lionel Tertis under the baton of Arthur Nikisch (whose condescension towards the work irritated Tertis considerably). Dale writes for a surprisingly large orchestra to accompany his solo viola, and the tolling opening chords, noble melody and wide-spanning cantilenas exhibit his style at its most lyrical.

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Canadian-born composer Ruth Lomon, to a commission from The Rebecca Clarke Society, has orchestrated Rebecca Clarke’s well-known Viola Sonata in authentic style. A concerto is the result, and one bearing comparison with other viola concerti of the post-WWI period.
Clarke prefaces her score with two lines from French poet Alfred de Musset’s La Nuit de Mai (1835) – preparing us for the romantic and emotionally charged atmosphere:

Poète, prends ton luth; le vin de la jeunesse
Fermente cette nuit dans les veines de Dieu.

I translated this as follows (feeling that blood “fermenting” in the poet’s veins sounded rather stilted):

Poet, take your lute; the wine of youth
Courses this night in the veins of God.

Clarke writes in her autobiography of an experience one summer evening as she passed under a large Syringa bush in full bloom:

It was glistening and dripping with raindrops, and the scent that poured from it, mingling with the primitive, almost cosmic, smell of earth after rain, was so potent that suddenly I was shaken by a rapture beyond anything I had ever known. It was allied to sex – though I did not realise that at the time – but purer: a kind of crystallization of the ecstasy found in music, the awe inspired by the stars.

This erotic charge is certainly in Clarke’s music, and Lomon’s orchestration reinforces the composer’s distinctive voice. “Technically, the work is titled as being in three movements though I see it more as a (dominant) slow movement leading into an agitato finale,” comments Sarah-Jane Bradley.

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Sarah-Jane Bradley

The rest of the programme consisted of two fresh discoveries. Lionel Tertis championed Richard Walthew’s lovely montage of encores, A Mosaic in Ten Pieces (with Dedication). Originally published in 1900 for clarinet and piano, the composer orchestrated it in 1943 as a viola piece for Tertis to play at that year’s Proms. A charming confection, Sarah-Jane Bradley revelled in the piece and her playing of it is the equal of her legendary predecessor.
Contrastingly, Harry Waldo Warner’s large-scale Suite in D minor, Op. 58 is in three movements. (Waldo Warner is a name familiar from old record catalogues but completely forgotten by most music lovers.) Judging from the opus number, we deduced it must be a late work, probably written during WWII.
The manuscript survived in the collection of Lionel Tertis, and after him his pupil Harry Danks. Its publication and recording was a longstanding ambition of the late John White, for many years Professor of Viola and Head of Instrumental Studies at the Royal Academy of Music, who prepared the edition recorded here, but did not live to hear it played. (The viola and piano manuscript is marked up for string orchestra, the orchestral full score now realised by Tim Seddon.) Again, Sarah-Jane Bradley was a persuasive advocate, playing with authority and a beautiful tone, making it easy to forget how difficult much of the music actually is. She pointed to the last page, Molto allegro, and described it as, “a ridiculous race to the finish, and quite extraordinary viola writing.”

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Stephen Bell

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M is for May (Releases) … and Mancini, Mauriat, Mathis, Monkman and more …

Our May 2016 release includes several artists from the golden age of easy listening whom, we’re proud to say, are now as synonymous with Vocalion as the labels for which they originally recorded. And there’s another entry in our long-running series devoted to the KPM library.

Paul Mauriat, 1970s

Inimitable Gallic maestro Paul Mauriat is featured on six albums across three separate CDs, each showcasing his elegant orchestral arrangements. The albums C’est La Vie … Lily (1968) and Comme J’ai Toujours Envie D’aimer (1969) are from the earlier part of his vast Philips discography. Typical of Mauriat in their colourful interpretations of English, American and European pop, they include The Beatles’ Let it Be, the Bacharach-David evergreen Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head and Mungo Jerry’s In the Summertime alongside Claude Bolling’s charming theme from the film Borsalino and Enrico Macias and Pierre Cour’s Paris S’allume. Rain and Tears (1968) & Vole Vole Farandole (1969) traverse much the same territory, offering up another carefully selected blend of English, American and European contemporary pop, all in the Mauriat style. Piano Ballade (1984) and Remember (1990) are from the latter part of Mauriat’s discography, and demonstrate not only that he was he able to move with the times but also that he doggedly kept the flag flying for quality middle-of-the-road music. Among Piano Ballade’s twelve titles are touching renditions of Lionel Richie’s Hello, Elton John’s Sad Songs (Say So Much) and Phil Collins’s power ballad Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now). The Remember album is cut from rather more traditional cloth, comprising a selection of evergreens that come up anew in Mauriat’s hands. Each Paul Mauriat CD also includes one or more rare bonus tracks.

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Henry “Hank” Mancini, that doyen of film and television music, returns to the fold in another CD containing two classic RCA albums. Both from the early ’70s, Mancini Concert and Mancini Plays the Theme from Love Story highlight different facets of his music making. Recorded to tie-in with Mancini’s 1971 American concert tour, Mancini Concert is just that – a studio recording of the sort of varied programme his audiences had come to expect. The highlight is undoubtedly Portrait of Simon and Garfunkel, a heartfelt orchestral rendering of several of the legendary duo’s best-known melodies. In addition to inventive orchestrations of other contemporary material including selections from The Who’s rock opera Tommy and the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice opus Jesus Christ Superstar, Mancini looks back to his swing era roots in Big Band Montage. A Mancini album wouldn’t be complete without some of his own music, and Mancini Concert addresses that through the inclusion of March with Mancini, a medley of themes from Peter Gunn, The Great Race and elsewhere. The Mancini Plays the Theme from Love Story album capitalised on his smash-hit arrangement of Francis Lai’s film theme. Indeed, film music is the album’s cornerstone, and it includes several rare Mancini themes such as The Night Visitor, The Hawaiians and Theme for Three, the last of these from the Audrey Hepburn movie Wait until Dark.

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In The Hollywood Musicals (1986), Henry Mancini teams up with legendary balladeer Johnny Mathis for a programme of standards drawn from the great American songbook. The combination of Mathis’s smooth-as-silk voice and Mancini’s sophisticated orchestrations bring a new dimension to such classics as You Stepped Out of a Dream, True Love and It Might as Well Be Spring. Another legendary American singer, Harry Belafonte, features in two albums, Homeward Bound (1968) and Belafonte Sings of Love (1969), in which he puts his own unique stamp on material by Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Fred Neil, Jim Webb, Harry Nilsson, Gordon Lightfoot and others.

A further helping of stylish easy listening comes courtesy of American pianist Peter Nero, with two albums, one his last for RCA (Love Trip, 1969), the other his first for CBS (From Hair to Hollywood, 1969). Love Trip places Nero in a variety of settings, from perky R&B, orchestral and Latin American to small group jazz. From Hair to Hollywood is somewhat unusual in that Nero plays the then-new Moog synthesizer on a few tracks, but for the most part sticks with his keyboard instrument of choice, the acoustic piano. As the album title suggests, the material is divided into film themes and titles from the rock musical, Hair.

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Continuing the theme of our Floyd Cramer CDs, we pay another visit to Nashville, the beating heart of country music, via four albums by guitarist-producer Chet Atkins, who helped shape so many albums in RCA’s “Nashville Sound” Studio. Solid Gold ’68 and Solid Gold ’69 are based on the same concept as that of Floyd Cramer’s Class of … series, each containing a selection of pop hits in tasteful arrangements framing Atkins’ economic yet lyrical guitar style. Yestergroovin’ (1970) and Lover’s Guitar (1969) together comprise a further example of the Atkins guitar style, in tunes including Cherokee, Bring Me Sunshine, Yestergroovin’, How High the Moon and The Look of Love.

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The albums Classical Concussion and Predictions, both from 1979, represent Vocalion’s latest voyage into the archives of the KPM 1000 Series, one of the world’s leading recorded music libraries and the home of such famous TV themes as News at Ten, Grandstand, Wimbledon, All Creatures Great and Small and Owen M.D.

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The work of brilliantly gifted composer-keyboardist Francis Monkman – a founder member of progressive bands Curved Air and Sky – Classical Concussion and Predictions are from the same era as his superb score for gangland thriller The Long Good Friday. In fact, Classical Concussion, recorded at Lansdowne Studios in November 1978, seems to anticipate in places The Long Good Friday’s music. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the opening track, Release of Energy (a), a thrilling title theme that embedded itself in the consciousness of British cinemagoers thanks to its use (in abridged form) as the Rank Cinema chain’s Preview Time jingle. The dramatic Power Games also became familiar to British cinemagoers through its use as the Rank Cinema intermission theme. With its emphasis on electronic music, Predictions (1979) is in the same mould as that of Sky’s debut album, from the same year. The imposing Passajig (a) is an unusual concoction of rhythm section, synthesizer, church organ and, remarkably, the State Trumpeters of the Band of The Household Cavalry. The magnificent sound of the State Trumpeters introduces Prelude (a), a pulsating underscore with synthesizer ostinato that conjures up visions of a futuristic metropolis. But the album’s best-known track is Hypercharge, thanks to its inclusion in Arthur Gibson’s award-winning 1981 documentary about the Red Arrows, the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force.

As ever, Michael J. Dutton has remastered each of the above releases directly from the original analogue tapes.

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More Dutton Epoch Discoveries

The new Dutton Epoch release features six CDs: three in the International Series alongside three British music discoveries – and with more in the can for later in the year. For the past sixteen years, Dutton Epoch has specialised in exploring the hidden byways of British music, in the process uncovering many delightful works, such as the complete symphonic output of Richard Arnell. More recently, however, the International Series has widened the label’s scope, and among much superb music, perhaps the most notable find has been the music of German composer Walter Braunfels (1882-1954).

At a recording session with the conductor Johannes Wildner and the BBC Concert Orchestra in 2012, we discussed which neglected twentieth-century German or Austrian composer would be the most rewarding to focus on next in his series with the Concert Orchestra. I happened to mention Walter Braunfels. Johannes’ enthusiasm was immediate and characteristically unrestrained, and I was asked to

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research Braunfels’ unrecorded music and recommend a first programme, which was recorded on 15-17 April 2013. This proved so successful that in April 2014 we were back in the studio – this time Studio 1 at Abbey Road – for a second Braunfels programme, which was even more enthusiastically received by the recording team, and a commitment to do a third CD came then and there. On these occasions, it is very difficult to be precise as to running time, and one item from the April 2014 sessions – the Straussian Prelude to Braunfels’ opera Don Gil von den grünen Hosen (Don Gil of the Green Breeches) – had to be carried over because we had recorded too much material. So on 10-12 November 2014 all convened again, at Watford Town Hall (or the Watford Colosseum as it is now known). As well as tuneful orchestral extracts from two operas – Don Gil and Die Vögel – this third set of sessions included the pre-First World War Serenade Op. 20, a fine work that should surely figure in popular orchestral repertoire the world over. The programme was completed by the unknown but hugely attractive Konzerstück in C sharp minor for piano and orchestra Op. 64 – in effect a post-Second World War piano concerto – which the amiable and good-humoured Piers Lane threw off with complete authority, as if he had been playing it all his life. When I was taking photographs after the session, Piers joked, “Aren’t you going to take the usual corny shot? You need to get my reflection in the lid.” I did my best to oblige.

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The other new titles in the International Series were researched by conductor Martin Yates, and with particular soloists in mind. Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952) and Witold Maliszewski (1873-1939) both came from the Russian musical tradition before the Revolution, but in fact were born in the Ukraine, though Maliszewski is often thought of as a Polish composer (indeed, he was Lutoslawski’s teacher), and Bortkiewicz lived for many years in Vienna. Nevertheless, the earlier orchestral music of both is clearly rooted in the mainstream Russian tradition. The Bortikiewicz and Maliszewski programmes were recorded at the RSNO’s former home, Henry Wood Hall, a converted church where so many of Dutton Epoch’s sessions with the RSNO have been recorded. Sadly, these were the last to be undertaken there. Pianist Peter Donohoe projected Maliszewski’s impressive Piano Concerto in B flat minor in his customary commanding manner, while the coupling, the Third Symphony of 1907, emerged as a full-scale romantic Russian symphony that somehow had fallen into obscurity. Even more striking was Sergei Bortkiewicz’s huge Violin Concerto of 1922, which soloist Sergey Levitin has taken to his heart. The Symphonic Poem “after Shakespeare’s Othello” makes a strong coupling. This completely unknown orchestral piece, completed just before the outbreak of the First World War, is a rewarding addition to our repertoire of Russian music, and had all gripped as it unfolded in the studio.

The three CDs of British music feature Armstrong Gibbs, Vaughan Williams, Cyril Scott, Arnold Bax and George Butterworth.

Conductor Ronald Corp presents an all-Armstrong Gibbs programme, including the majority of the composer’s unrecorded yet substantial orchestral music, which proved to be a minor revelation for its lyrical attractiveness and personal style. Even though we had explored the printed music in advance of the sessions via piano play-throughs or in electronic playback of a “Sibelius” file, the first hearing of the music at the sessions themselves is always a magical moment. Especially so when we hear the miracle of sight-reading that British orchestras always deliver at the first rehearsal, before getting down to the detailed work of the session itself. In this case, the orchestra was the BBC Concert Orchestra, and this music, very much their métier, was meat and drink to them. It was a varied programme full of delights. The five-movement suite from the children’s play Crossings is short, but something that one goes on playing once it is on the personal radar. Different in sound and texture, and indeed quite a contrast – yet written in 1919, the same year as Crossings – is The Enchanted Wood Op. 25. This the composer called “a dance phantasy,” and the scoring for string orchestra with solo violin and piano is haunting. The leader of the BBC Concert Orchestra, Charles Mutter, played the solo violin part, with Ben Dawson as the pianist.

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The largest orchestral line-up on the session was assembled to record the atmospheric Symphonic Poem A Vision of Night Op. 38 of 1921. Dedicated to Arthur Bliss, it was first performed on 8 March 1923 by the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra. Unlike Gibbs’s other music, this piece is a study in orchestral colour, calling, in addition to the full orchestra, on a large array of low winds – and it was particularly exciting to see David Chatterton wielding the contra-bass sarrusophone beside the bassoons.

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The remainder of the Gibbs programme proved to be even more varied, including the Suite in A for violin and orchestra Op. 101 of 1942 (five miniature movements with Charles Mutter as the soloist once more) and Gibbs’s most famous composition, the haunting slow waltz Dusk, which enjoyed almost pop-music status in the mid-1940s. And Gibbs’s appeal to a light music audience was reinforced when we heard the Four Orchestral Dances of 1959.

Putting together programmes by different composers is a difficult thing to do, and Dutton Epoch usually plans them based on one composer. Apart from anything else, it makes reviews easier to locate after the CD has appeared. However, the mix of Cyril Scott’s evocative nature ramble celebrating cellist Beatrice Harrison, The Melodist and the Nightingales, with Arnold Bax’s very early Variations for Orchestra and Martin Yates’s completion and performing edition of George Butterworth’s last work, Fantasia for Orchestra, which survived unfinished when Butterworth died in France, makes for a satisfying programme. In The Melodist and the Nightingales, the principal cello of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Aleksei Kiseliov, found a special rapport with conductor Martin Yates in championing what in other hands might well have fallen flat. But here they weave a magical musical web.

Aleksei_Martin

The Melodist and the Nightingales was recorded in the Caird Hall, Dundee, a location the Dutton Epoch team had not visited before, and it was in this wonderfully responsive acoustic that Dutton Epoch’s new Vaughan Williams programme was set down, featuring a major outcome of Martin Yates’s researches through the Vaughan Williams manuscripts in the British Library. This is the orchestral suite from RVW’s opera Sir John in Love, to which the composer gave the working title Fat Knight. And what a gorgeously attractive piece it is – seven movements including some familiar RVW tunes, but also reminding us of some that come up fresh. The coupling is Yates’s vivid orchestration of Vaughan Williams’s Henry V Overture, surely a precursor of Walton’s film score of ten years on, and Vaughan Williams’s familiar and much-loved Serenade to Music, here recorded in its entrancing orchestral version and prompting one to ask why it is not thus better known.

Caird_Hall

Session photographs by Lewis Foreman
Blog post written by Lewis Foreman

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Vocalion’s Christmas 2015 Release

Quality and variety have always been two of our guiding principles. So, with that in mind, in this veritable feast of new releases you’ll find sumptuous easy listening from Henry Mancini, Paul Mauriat, Hugo Montenegro and Jackie Gleason, the best in vocalists (Cleo Laine, Perry Como, Demis Roussos, Caterina Valente and Nana Mouskouri) and the finest in big bands, Latin and jazz (Ted Heath, Edmundo Ros and John Dankworth) nestling alongside superb film soundtracks by Elmer Bernstein and Neal Hefti, wonderfully vibrant library music by Neil Richardson, David Lindup and Stan Tracey, and exciting jazz-funk from the Morrissey Mullen and Hiroshima bands. And for some of these titles we’ve now made the move into four-channel quadraphonic sound. (For further information about our quadraphonic titles, see the quadraphonic section below.)

Starting with the vocalists, we’re proud to introduce Nana Mouskouri to the Vocalion label. The albums … Songs from Her TV Series & Turn on the Sun are culled from her 1970s Fontana discography and include some of the material she performed on such light entertainment shows as Morecambe & Wise and The Two Ronnies. Of course, they’re all lovely songs, and even more so in Nana’s interpretations. The same can be said of Demis Roussos, who demonstrates his multilingual skills in Universum (1979) and Die Nacht und der Wein (1976), both of which feature his beautiful German-language versions of songs including Sometimes When We Touch, From Souvenirs to Souvenirs and Happy to be on an Island in the Sun. French-born songstress Caterina Valente continues the multilingual theme in Tanz mit Catrin (1965, sung in German) and Personalità (1960, sung in Italian) – and here Tanz mit Catrin is making its first appearance on CD. The inimitable Cleo Laine, widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest jazz singers, makes her Vocalion debut with two wonderful albums – If We Lived on the Top of a Mountain and Portrait – originally recorded for the Fontana and Philips labels back in the late ’60s and early ’70s. On both she’s accompanied by an all-star British big band led by her late husband, John Dankworth, and she applies her incredible four-octave voice to a range of evergreens as well as contemporary songs by writers such as Mike Gibbs and Peter Sykes. Talking of John Dankworth, his big band is back with a further two volumes of transcription recordings made for the BBC in the late ’50s. After a hiatus of seven years, Latin bandleader extraordinaire Edmundo Ros makes a welcome reappearance on the Vocalion imprint with an attractive – not to mention very rare – set of BBC transcription recordings from 1955. And Britain’s foremost big band of yesteryear, the Ted Heath Orchestra, is also featured in the ninth volume of BBC transcription recordings.

The music of Gallic maestro and eternal Vocalion favourite Paul Mauriat is heard on three CDs, all of which are sourced from his considerable ’70s and ’80s output. The Seven Seas (1984) and Summer Has Flown (1983) are fine examples of the Mauriat sound as it was in the mid-80s: it’s fascinating to hear the Mauriat touch applied to songs like Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Donna Summer’s She Works Hard for the Money. The L’avventura (1972) and Le Lac Majeur (1972) albums find Mauriat in more familiar territory but are just as engaging, presenting a selection of popular songs from the early ’70s alongside a few of Mauriat’s own compositions. We’re in the late ’70s for C’est La Vie (1977) and Brasil Exclusivamente Vol. 2 (1978), the first of which features then-contemporary hits including Vangelis’s Pulstar and Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, the second of which features a range of gorgeous Brazilian tunes in Mauriat’s colourful modern arrangements. Moving across the Continent to Germany, we have another two superb easy listening CDs: one featuring the golden-toned trumpet of Horst Fischer backed by the Werner Müller Orchestra, the other the distinctive accordion playing of Will Glahé. Recorded in the late ’60s, the two Horst Fischer albums – The Golden Trumpet and Trumpet for Lovers – now complete our survey of his Decca/Teldec releases. Continuing in the easy listening vein, American actor-cum-conductor Jackie Gleason leads his orchestra through two characteristically romantic albums – 1970’s Come Saturday Morning and 1966’s How Sweet it is for Lovers – with elegant solo contributions from Don Goldie and Pee Wee Erwin (trumpets) and Charlie Ventura (tenor sax).

Flying Start represents Vocalion’s sixth volume of music from the legendary KPM 1000 Series recorded music library. Focusing on the ten-year period between 1968 and 1978, it compiles 28 of the finest 1000 Series compositions by such brilliantly gifted arranger-composers as Nick Ingman, David Lindup, Keith Mansfield, Neil Richardson, Stan Tracey and John Dankworth. The emphasis is very much on majestic orchestral and big band sounds with contemporary rhythm, and yet there’s also room for romantic interludes, avant-garde spacey jazz, abstract underscores and more besides. In fact, the whole thing comes over as a soundtrack – for example, the sort of colourful, dramatic music that would underscore a 1970s Pathé documentary about a fleet of Land Rovers trekking across the desert. More soundtrack material is available on two CDs featuring the scores to three swinging American films of the ’60s. The composers in question are giants of the movie music field: Elmer Bernstein and Neal Hefti. Bernstein’s score for 1966’s The Silencers starring Dean Martin, a playful pastiche of the James Bond/spy genre, is suitably cool, jazzy and dramatic. Neal Hefti’s scores for the oddly titled Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad (1967) is another example of jazzy, upbeat American movie music, while his score for Boeing Boeing (1966), a screwball comedy starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis, contains several examples of his sophisticated, romantic orchestral writing.

Music of a very different kind is on offer in two CDs showcasing the jazz-funk sound of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Formed in in Los Angeles 1974, the Hiroshima group forged its reputation as an eclectic band incorporating elements of R&B, soul, pop and jazz but with the distinctive sound of the koto and the spirit of Japan at its core. Flautist-saxophonist-composer Dan Kuramoto, a third-generation Japanese American born and raised in East Los Angeles, and June Kuramoto, one of the world’s leading koto players, have always been Hiroshima’s driving, creative force. Under their leadership the band secured a deal with the Arista label in 1979, which resulted in two albums – Hiroshima (1979) and Odori (1980) – that have since become classics of the jazz-funk/crossover genre, and are compiled here for your listening pleasure. These albums include such jazz-funk classics as Lion Dance and Cruisin’ J-Town, while Odori features several Dan Kuramoto compositions with a panoramic quality. That quality, allied to Jorge del Barrio’s beautiful orchestrations, makes them sound like they belong in a film score – and in the 21st century this very human, thought-provoking music remains as evocative as ever.

Over here in the UK, Morrissey Mullen was one of the premier jazz-funk outfits, enjoying both critical and commercial success at a time when bands like Shakatak, Freez, Light of the World and Level 42 were also emerging from Britain’s nascent jazz-funk scene. Founding members saxophonist Dick Morrissey and guitarist Jim Mullen met in the mid-1970s thanks to their mutual friendship with various members of the Average White Band. In 1976 they were invited to New York by the AWB ostensibly to work on some music, but instead it resulted in the first Morrissey Mullen album, Up (Atlantic Records, 1977), with backing by the AWB. Returning to Britain, Morrissey Mullen recorded one album for EMI’s Harvest label (Cape Wrath, 1979) before signing to independent label Beggars Banquet and recording a series of albums throughout the 1980s that are among their best. Their second and third albums for Beggars Banquet, Life on the Wire (1982) and It’s About Time … (1983), are compiled here and both offer shining examples of the band’s lyrical yet driving brand of jazz-funk. Vocalists Carol Kenyon and Tessa Niles are featured, and albums like these demonstrate that some of the very best jazz-funk came from these shores.

Into the Fourth DimensionQuadraphonic sound comes to Vocalion

CD4_logo_2 Quad Systems from the 1970’s

With Vocalion’s Christmas 2015 release, a new world of audio is opened up. Remember the Quadraphonic boom of the 1970s? It was when many of the major record companies decided that stereo was no longer enough and launched four-channel (quadraphonic) sound. For that section of the record-buying public fortunate enough to own a hi-fi system capable of reproducing four-channel recordings, they were able to hear music literally in a new dimension, because now not only did the sound come at them from front-left and front-right (as it would in conventional stereo), but also from back-left and back-right too. This “surround” effect placed the listener in the centre of the music instead of just in front of it, and as a result new meaning, depth and clarity was brought to the music that emanated from the LP spinning on the turntable or the 8-track cartridge whirring in the tape player. Thankfully, many of the artists who appear so regularly on Vocalion were originally recorded in glorious quadraphonic sound, and we’re excited to present twelve quadraphonic albums across six discs in the SACD – Super Audio Compact Disc – format. (These SACDs also play on any standard CD player, in which they’ll yield full stereo sound.) The artists involved are among the giants of the easy listening field and, we’re very glad to say, have become fixtures on the Vocalion label.

Two of the SACDs are devoted to the lush orchestral music of Henry Mancini. On the first, trumpeter-flugelhornist virtuoso Doc Severinsen partners him in two albums, Brass on Ivory (1972) and Brass, Ivory and Strings (1973), while the second features the elegant piano style of Mancini himself backed by full orchestra in Six Hours Past Sunset and A Warm Shade of Ivory, both from 1969. Mancini’s music is particularly apt for the four-channel treatment. Being enveloped by his rich, sweeping strings adds considerably to the music’s emotional impact. Pianist and country music supremo Floyd Cramer returns with four albums on two separate SACDs: Class of ’73 and Class of ’74-’75, and Super Country Hits (1973) and The Young and the Restless (1974). Produced by Chet Atkins and recorded at the famous “Nashville Sound” Studios, it’s certainly an ear-opening experience hearing Cramer’s inimitable piano in wide, expansive four-channel audio. And you’ll marvel at just how alive and vibrant his country interpretations of popular hits are when given the quadraphonic treatment.

American conductor-arranger-composer Hugo Montenegro is featured on an SACD compiling two remarkable albums he recorded in the early and mid-70s. Others by Brothers (1975) saw him blending his bank of ARP synthesizers with conventional instrumentation in arrangements of soul, jazz and funk hits. The Duke Ellington staple Caravan comes up shining anew in this funky, electric version, and you’ve certainly never heard the soul classics What’s Going On and Nothing from Nothing in such inventive and colourful orchestrations as you will do on this SACD – and adding to the excitement is their rendering in quadraphonic sound. Scenes and Themes (1972) presents a selection of popular film themes in Montenegro arrangements designed specifically for the four-channel recording process.

Last but certainly not least, the final SACD in this batch focuses on the smooth-as-silk voice of legendary crooner Perry Como, in two albums from his vast discography: Perry (1974) and In Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas (1970). On both, he applies his elegant vocal style to a smorgasbord of evergreens such as Temptation, Without a Song and Hello, Young Lovers that sit alongside songs of the ’70s including You Are the Sunshine of My Life, The Way We Were and Beyond Tomorrow. Again, four-channel sound introduces an exciting extra dimension, especially so on the In Person … album, which was recorded live: four-channel conveys the magical ambience of a concert in a way that conventional stereo simply can’t.

Now for the technical bit. Vocalion’s Hybrid SACDs consist of three layers: a standard stereo CD layer at 16-bit 44.1khz, and two separate high-resolution layers, each of which have been mastered at 24-bit 352khz – one in stereo, the other in four-channel 4.0. Michael J. Dutton remastered both the stereo and four-channel elements from the original analogue tapes: for the stereo element the original ¼” stereo masters were used, and for the four-channel element the original four-channel “discrete” masters were used. These were used respectively to cut the original stereo and quadraphonic vinyl LPs.

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