Mystery Object of the week #13 Answer

A hearty Christmas congratulations to Catherine Crump and Rob de Bie who correctly identified last weeks’ mystery object – The Ivor Novello Award also known as The Ivors. Named after the Cardiff – born entertainer Ivor Novello these have been presented annually in London by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) since 1955.

The Ivor Novello Award 1988 presented to EMI for 'Mistletow and Wine' - Courtesy of the EMI Group Archive Trust Collection.

The Ivor Novello Award 1988 presented to EMI for ‘Mistletow and Wine’ – Courtesy of the EMI Group Archive Trust Collection.

This award was presented to EMI Records for Cliff Richard’s version of ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ which was the best selling A side for 1988 – original song written by Jeremy Paul, Leslie Stewart and Keith Strachan.

The Award itself is a solid bronze sculpture of Euterpe, the muse of lyric poetry –individually crafted by Mike Wilson.

Ivor Novello Awarded to EMI Records – 1988 for ‘Mistletow and Wine’ – Courtesy of the EMI Group Archive Trust Collection.  

“The Dream of Gerontius”, Elgar’s opus 38 – Vivid memories from April 1945

By Ted Gadsby     

“The Dream of Gerontius”, Elgar’s opus 38 – Vivid memories from April 1945

April this year marked the 70th anniversary of the recording in Huddersfield Town Hall of the ‘Dream’, an occasion I witnessed at first hand. Could an 8-year old claim to have appreciated what was going on, and how much is it a genuine memory or later study? I confirm how I was deeply moved – this guaranteeing for me what I genuinely recall. I experienced a spiritual wakening at the choir’s affirmation of “Praise to the Holiest” and the lingering of Heddle Nash’s frightened, dying and weak voice shook this child on that day. I was hooked.

Sir Edward Elgar conducting first record 'Carissima' Jan 1914, possibly at City Road - Early 20th century recordings.  Image supplied Courtesy of The  EMI Group Archive Trust

Sir Edward Elgar conducting first record ‘Carissima’ Jan 1914, possibly at City Road – Early 20th century recordings. Image supplied Courtesy of The EMI Group Archive Trust

From the Mayor’s box (there were, maybe, 14 or 16 Huddersfield Choral Society (HCS) committee members, friends and civic dignitaries) we looked down into the auditorium; no other non-participants were present, just performers and recording engineers. I had been taken there by my father, Hugh Frederic Gadsby (on leave from the RAF) and his own father, Frederic Walter Gadsby, a long-serving member of the HCS Committee (and its President: 1947-1949). I remember acute embarrassment as my elders in the mayor’s box stood up in unison – and I demurely followed – on two occasions to demand a re-start.

In those days of direct shellac recording re-starts were discouraged – get it right first time! I remember the repetitive stops & starts as successive maximum-12 minute sections were put down for each of the 78-rpm’s 24 sides onto which the master (HMV recording C.3435-3446) was directly archived. Only those two sides (nos. 4 & 9 out of 24) were re-started, a remarkable contrast to today’s ‘perfecting-technology’. Cleverly, the sound technicians, I learned since, over-lapped many of the sides “as if anticipating how this could help bring together the recording as a whole at sometime in the future.”

This had been the first recording of the full 1900 work (those in 1927 under Elgar himself had been of extracts only). So, how did this performance compare with later ones? Bill Rosen has posed five short questions: Was Elgar England’s finest composer? Is The Dream of Gerontius his finest work (“the best of me”)? Was this Sargent’s finest hour and his 1945 recording of this work the greatest ever made? Was Heddle Nash the finest Gerontius ever? Whilst I am ill-qualified to compare this with a dozen post-war recordings, Rosen believes that others played the drama too early, Sargent (1945) sustaining it to the end. Perhaps his 1941 performance in London’s Queen’s Hall, hours before its destruction, moved and motivated him.

For years I had to make do with a poor cassette recording of an 8th December 1978 Radio 3 broadcast taped from the original discs, until I obtained, with great joy, the 2006 Direct Audio Transfer made by Pristine Audio (PACO.009). Despite bringing me a beautifully continuous performance, it will never cloud my personal reminiscences of that day. Two questions I pose: Does anyone know the exact date in April 1945 and, is there anyone else alive who bore witness to this musical treat? HCS’s 125th anniversary booklet (1961) omits this major contribution to choral music in its Notable Dates, it being covered in the Performance Listing.

Perhaps my visits to Birmingham Oratory, passing Cardinal Newman’s own office also adds a touch of sentiment! Being an early music buff, I don’t relish Gladys Ripley’s style, but my heart savours the whole. Heddle Nash’s “Take me away” will never be surpassed.

I was indeed so privileged to have witnessed the occasion, and after this arduous day was done, I proudly remembered being introduced to Mr. Herbert Bardgett, chorus master since 1932, and being patted on the head by Dr. Malcolm himself (two years before his knighthood)!

Comments invited and publication and archiving encouraged – by Ted Gadsby  

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Many Happy Returns

The Hound is please to present some more metaphorical memories from our resident philosopher Wayne Shevlin.

Many Happy Returns

I may not know much, but I know what I like. And – like most people – I only like what I know. But, how do we discover, and thus get to know the music we like?

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Along the many roads of the music industry I have travelled, I spent quite a few years working in what became one of NYC’s largest record and audio equipment stores – let’s call it R&J Music Universe.  When I joined, R&J was a small hi-fi store. The record department was in the basement  with another small basement around the corner serving as the warehouse, which is where I worked.  One day J, the manager, approached me with a “new job opportunity”.   Record returns.  The Returns Authorisation or RA Manager – as I decided to refer to myself – is essentially the garbage man of the record business.  RA was not exactly the most glamorous of music biz jobs and one that endeared you to absolutely no one – particularly the record salesman who avoided you like the vampire you were, since whatever you returned was deducted from his commission.

HMV Oxford Street late 1950's

HMV Oxford Street late 1950’s

My introduction to this glorious career consisted of being escorted to a small room behind the sales counter from which spilled (literally) many thousands of allegedly defective phonograph records. I say allegedly because most were not actually defective.  They had been returned as defective by customers dissatisfied with the music who hoped to exchange them for something else.  Such devious tactics would only lead to disappointment, since R&J policy was “exchange for same only“.  These many thousands of DFs – as we called them in the RA trade – were the legacy of the previous RA man having quit many months earlier without anyone noticing or bothering to replace him.  How they didn’t notice the tide of records sloshing out of that room I’ll never know but it was now my job to clean up the mess.

RA was not a mentally demanding job and, on the face of it, promised to be stupefyingly tedious.  It consisted of sorting, listing, packing and shipping the thousands of DF records.  Sorting was by distributor, then by label and finally by catalogue number.  Once sorted, you counted the records and filled in the quantity for each catalogue number on the appropriate form – assuming there was a form.  The big league companies like WEA, CBS and EMI had forms, but smaller “labels” – particularly jazz and disco – were frequently one-man-bands who showed up in a van, dropped off a box of records and were paid in cash.  They didn’t have forms.  But that didn’t matter since many were never seen again anyway, and thus there was no one to return the DFs to – with or without a form.  If the miserable wretch did appear again – because he had a new record – the technique was for me to ambush him just as he was about to be paid, dump the DFs on him and deduct the value from the cash he received.  You can see why the RA man was feared and loathed.

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But for the big league labels the process was more mundane.  Having sorted and listed the DFs to be returned, you boxed them up, organised a freight pickup, loaded the truck and had them shipped across the country, back to whence they came.  Eventually a credit note would arrive.  Ultimately, I developed a system (a prelude to my current career) to efficiently organise the overall process.

Working in that initial cramped havoc was almost impossible as there was no room to stand let alone sort, or list, or box.  Nonetheless, eventually I did finally clear out that room.  But suddenly, R&J acquired a much larger building – previously an archive – providing vast amounts of space not only for the store, but the warehouse and even the humble RA man.  And it was here that I suddenly found myself in a huge room, all by myself, with rack upon rack of every conceivable record, a job that required practically no mental input and a kick-ass stereo. Well, what would you do with that?

I’ll tell you what I did. I listened. I did my mindless job and I listened to everything. Every conceivable record imaginable: classical, jazz, rock, metal, pop, folk, avant-guard, OPERA…even disco… A veritable cornucopia: the popular, the obscure, the ephemeral, the degenerate, the unpalatable, the weird. It was here that I conquered my Pink Floyd phobia and made friends with Wish You Were Here, floated on the transcendental audio-yoga of Brian Eno’s Music For Airports, studied the techniques of the pro pop writers like Carol King and Billy Joel,  was flabbergasted by the Temple City Kazoo Orchestra’s version of Whole Lotta Love (you have to hear it to believe it),  bopped with Coltrane, swang with Sinatra, looked sharp with Joe Jackson, punked, proged, baroque n’ rolled and eventually even discovered that some disco didn’t suck (there, I said it).

It was there, in R&J’s RA room that I disposed of my musical bigotry, preconceptions and attitude and truly understood what Miles Davis meant when he said “it’s either good or bad, the rest is just style” – though I can find no evidence that Miles Davis actually ever said that.  In any event, if he didn’t say it, I think he should have said it, and anyhow, I’m saying it and it was in that RA room that I learned it:  how to appreciate the inherent quality of a piece of music even if I didn’t like the style.  Even disco.

Most people discover music through radio, TV, friends & family or perhaps a chance hearing in a shop or club. These media channels enforce musical myopia since so much of what is offered has been filtered and targeted based on taste or a commercial agenda with a predetermined bias toward a particular listening audience.  How unfair.  How limiting.  What made my RA wall so special was that the only criteria for what was available there was that it was reasonably current and someone had bought it and either liked it enough to require an unblemished copy or really didn’t like it enough to try and exchange it for something else.

If everyone were presented with such a wall of music:  with strange sleeves beckoning you to discover what lies within, with plenty of time to explore, experiment and take chances and listen, free from prejudices and attitudes, without an agenda – how much broader would most people’s taste be? Quite a bit broader, I suspect.  Perhaps the internet will provide a virtual RA wall where people can easily discover more of what they like.  But the key to my RA wall was not just that it had a diverse variety of records, but that my job required me to make contact with each one – since they had to be sorted, listed and counted.   Musical discovery was made almost unavoidable.  And I got paid while doing it.

Decca Studio

Decca Studio

The DFs I listened to were all records people actually bought.  But there were also records that weren’t bought.  These were called overstock, and I was responsible for those too.  Overstock reflects a side of the record business where cynicism, greed, stupidity and failure meet in the place where taste and money collide.  But that story is for another day.

Memories of EMI – Malcolm Addey on “Move It!”

The Hound would like to thank the EMI Archive Trust for this great interview with lengendary Abbey Road Sound Engineer Malcolm Addey.

The EMI Archive Trust was delighted to sit down with the wonderful Malcolm Addey. He was hired in March 1958 as a trainee/assistant engineer and after an unprecedented short three months was promoted and invited to join the renowned “pop” recording team of Peter Bown and Stuart Eltham. By July he had already recorded Cliff Richard’s “Move It!” soon to be followed by many hits by Cliff, The Shadows, Helen Shapiro, Adam Faith, Johnny Kidd and many more. Malcolm experimented with and pioneered the use of such things as liberal amounts of equalisation and compression in addition to placing microphones much closer to instruments and vocalists than was considered prudent by his contemporaries. As a result his records tended to be louder, more “present” and attention-getting.

In this short video he shares a memory of how somehow opera got involved in the making of the hit record, “Move It!”, generally accepted as the first “all-British” rock’n’roll record.

Malcolm currently resides in New York City, where he continues his work recording and mastering mostly Jazz and Classical music in addition to re-mastering historic re-issue CD sets. He also enjoys recording live concerts for radio broadcast networks.

If you are interested in taking part or would like more information about our Memories of EMI Campaign please contact us on:
email: info@emiarchivetrust.org
Write: Film Project, EMI Archive Trust
Dawley Road
Hayes, Middlesex
UB3 1HH

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Photo credits:
Photo of Malcolm Addey – Copyright: The Malcolm Addey Collection
Photo of Michael Grafton Green – Copyright: Courtesy of The EMI Archive Trust
(Michael Grafton Green – Was Abbey Road’s top pop department cutting engineer of the late ’50s to mid 60s. This image is exactly as his room was when “Move It!” was recorded.)

Chinese Rhythm by Alfredo Campoli

Chinese Rhythm, 78rpm Decca shellac disc by Alfredo Campoli and his salon orchestra

Thank you to our friends from the EMI Archive Trust for sharing this great piece from their collection.   The EMI Archive Trust holds an extensive collection of 78 rpm shellac discs from accross the Gramophone Company, EMI and other privately donated collections.

This is Chinese rhythm by Alfredo Campoli and his salon orchestra F.6659.

The Trust and the Hound welcome any factual information you may have about the disc. So please feel free to get in touch.

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© EMI Group Archive Trust

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All usage to be cleared by EMI Group Archive Trust

 

 

The Proms 2013

Today marks the start of one of the World’s biggest Classical music festivals. The BBC Proms begins with a concert at the Royal Albert Hall featuring Sally Matthews (soprano,) Roderick Williams (baritone,) Stephen Hough (piano,) BBC Proms Youth Choir, BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo (conductor) in a performances of Julian Anderson – Harmony (BBC Commission, World Premiere,)  Britten – Four Sea Interludes from ‘Peter Grimes,’  Rachmaninov – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,  Lutosławski – Variations on a Theme by Paganini and Vaughan Williams – A Sea Symphony.

Sir Henry Wood recording with the Queens Hall Orchestra for the Columbia Gramophone Company around 1912 © EMI Group Archive Trust

Sir Henry Wood recording with the Queens Hall Orchestra for the Columbia Gramophone Company around 1912  © EMI Group Archive Trust

This year the Proms will be broadcast to classical music enthusiasts all over the world. Many of the concerts and performances will be recorded and made available for purchase. It’s hard to imagine now but just 126 years ago a piece of music could only be heard when the audience was present, and as such was only available to those who could afford a ticket to see the best performers. At the end of the 19th century the Gramophone Company revolutionised this idea, making audio recordings available across the globe.

Tonight’s opening show which will be available via radio, TV or at the Royal Albert Hall itself is built upon the 126 year old legacy of Emile Berliner (inventor of the Gramophone) and the early Gramophone Company founders.   But for now relax and enjoy this clip of the God Father of the Proms Sir Henry Wood.

 


Exhibition of Stadivari violin played by EMI classical artist Yehudi Menuhin

This summer (13 June – 11 August)  the Ashmolian Museum in Oxford  has a exceptional exhibition celebrating the work of the seventeenth century master crafter of string instruments; Antonio Stadivari.  The rarely seen pieces will include a 1721 Stradivarius violin played by the famous EMI classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin before its auction at Sotheby’s 1971

Stadivari violins are considered the finest in the world, played only by the best professional musicians and held in private collections amoungst royalty.

Yehudi Menuhin photographed by Angus McBean. Copyright: EMI Music Ltd

Yehudi Menuhin photographed by Angus McBean. Copyright: EMI Music Ltd

Menuhin was an EMI recording artist for almost 70 years. He made his first recording in November 1929, aged just 13 and his last recording in 1999 aged 83. As a violinst and a conductor he recorded over 300 pieces for EMI.

Tracks Of My Tears

by Wayne Shevlin

Some grooves make you shake your bootie. A stadium anthem can get you swaying with lighters in the air. And some music brings tears to your eyes.

Image: Ludwig Van Beethoven by Neil Shevlin - All rights reserved

Image: Ludwig Van Beethoven by Neil Shevlin – All rights reserved

There are certain pieces of music that make me cry.  Consistently.  Spontaneously. Involuntarily.  It requires conscious effort to shut the tears off.  The tears differ in kind, are evoked for different reasons.  I am intrigued by music’s ability to manipulate my emotions. I am perplexed as to why, from time to time, I deliberately subject myself to stimuli which I know will result in making me cry.  I can only guess at how unsettling it must be for B to see me standing there, headphones encasing my head, tears rolling down my cheeks.  She must wonder why too.

Sometimes, it is that a piece of music has an association with a specific event in my life. Regardless of its musical or lyrical content, it triggers an emotional response in the same way a smell can take you back to nursery school (something that happens to me when passing by the Swiss Cottage McDonalds – only that branch does it) .  Effective – but this is a superficial evocation.  It isn’t the music per se, but an external relationship between the music and my life which the composer and performer had no knowledge of or control over.   For me, the song Let Her Cry by Paul Bollenback performed by Hootie & the Blowfish is the best example.  It’s not a brilliant song.  It is brutally sad in its own right, but what gives it the power to make me cry uncontrollably is that it was playing on the radio constantly as I drove back and forth to the hospital in LA during the week in which my mother died.   I also found the lyrics strangely relevant -as though Hootie knew the situation and was singing for me.

Thus, Let Her Cry, unintentionally, became the official soundtrack to that short but traumatic period of my life.  I cannot listen to it without that week materialising in my mind as though it were yesterday.  It is painful to remember.  And yet, from time to time, I deliberately put it on knowing full well what the result will be.  Though it rekindles the sadness, it also brings back the memory of my mother more powerfully and tangibly than anything else.  I just wish I had a happy song that had the same effect.

More interesting to me is music that makes me cry not because it is acting simply as a cheap emotional trigger, but that the music embodies emotion within itself and communicates that to me directly.  It becomes part of my internal emotive mechanisms and drives them without my conscious participation.  There are two pieces of instrumental music which make me cry – and for completely opposite reasons: one because it sounds so sad and the other because it sounds so beautiful.

Classical music has many examples of exquisitely sad pieces – Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor and Barber’s Adagio for strings are obvious and well worn examples – but the one that does it for me every time is the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony and specifically as performed by the Columbia Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bruno Walter.  I discovered this piece in a strange way when I was a teenager.  A solo piano arrangement of it was used as the background music in a Peanuts cartoon – the one with Charlie Brown – to evoke Charlie’s sad-sack, dumped on existence.   The music grabbed me immediately and it took some good deal of investigation to discover what it was.

The 2nd of the 7th has been a guaranteed tear-jerker for me ever since.  I don’t know why, but that piece just makes me cry.  What can I say?  Beethoven clearly has his finger on my musical sad-button with that one.  It covers all levels of sadness, running the gamut from a sombre whimper to Burghers of Calais torment – the way the wailing theme is handed back and forth between the upper and lower registers.  Very finely crafted and very, very minor.  By the way, I’ve tried many other versions: Von Karajan, Rattle, Toscanini and many other conductors.  In my opinion, no one gets Ludwig Van like Bruno.

On the other side of the spectrum is an instrumental electric guitar piece by Joe Satriani called Friends from his album The Extremist.  It’s a crunch chords and wheedley-woo number, but unlike most power-rock played by pyrotechnic Strat abusers, it is incredibly melodic and any fretboard acrobatics are all in the service of the music, not the other way around.  Undoubtedly there is a component of admiration involved because I know how much is involved in playing it from a technical perspective.  Perhaps I’m crying because I know I’ll never play that well.  Not really – I just think it’s gorgeous.  The lines soar and lift my heart with them.

Finally, there are songs that make me cry primarily because of the lyrics.  Lyrics are lyrics because they are meant to be set to music.  The two must support and reinforce each other.  It is frequently the case that great lyrics make lousy poems.  There are a number of songs with evocative, emotive lyrics that move me to tears: The Cruel War performed by Peter Paul & Mary,  Sondheim’s Send In The Clowns performed by Judy Collins – but the song that really does me in every time is Comfortably Numb by Roger Waters & David Gilmour performed by Pink Floyd.  Each time I think: “no, not this time”, but as it works its way through the second verse I lose it:  “When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse/ Out of the corner of my eye/ I turned to look but it was gone / I cannot put my finger on it now/ The Child has grown, the dream is gone/ I have become comfortably numb“.

These words, set to the backdrop of the sombre, resigned melancholy of the music – written, I believe, by Gilmour and beautifully arranged – are imbued with such a powerful sense of loss and hopelessness that I feel my entire existence vanish into the darkness. My child’s dream is gone. This is then followed by what is, in my opinion, Gilmour’s most powerful and exquisite guitar solo which cries too, along with me.

So why do I do it?  Perhaps you are worried about me – what’s this guy doing to himself? I am happy to say that in daily life I have few legitimate reasons to cry – so maybe this is a way to empty out the few tears that accumulate over time and have no other outlet.   But I’m not the only person who allows music to move them to tears.   And if it’s not music, then perhaps it’s some other art form such as movies.  Plenty of people (who shall remain nameless) are happy to subject themselves to romantic weepies and blubber away.  Clearly, many of us use art as catharsis.  In some way we need it – this strange enjoyment we get from self inflicted sadness.   Sometimes, for some reason, we need to cry for the sake of it – whether in sorrow or in joy.  Somehow, it makes us feel better.  But by using art we are in control.  We can turn it off or walk away.  The emotional release is in there, but only if we allow it.

Beethoven was not a good “melodist” and he was bad at harmony,”  Leonard Bernstein

Go to 5.18 as Bernstein discusses with Maximilian Schell  Beethoven Symphony No. 7