Sound Fountain



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Also at home in the US several recordings, supervised by Laszlo Halasz, were made with pianists Jorge Bolet, Edward Kilenyi, Alec Templeton and duo-pianists Luboshutz and Nemenoff, and with the Cincinnati Symphony and their conductor Thor Johnson. He also supervised the recordings made of the Helsinki University Chorus when on tour in the US in 1953.
There is one remarkable fact: the recordings with Thor Johnson and the Cincinnati Symphony performing Dvorak's 4th (8th) Symphony, Sibelius's "The Origin of Fire" with the Helsinki University Chorus and "Pohjola's daughter" were all done in stereo. Don Gabor and recording engineer Robert Blake already experimented with recording in stereo in 1953, well before RCA did.

These recordings were however released in mono and regrettably were mastered from a bad copy of the original tape which was made at low speed by Gabor himself.
Had he paid attention to quality, the company could have established itself as quite important. Not only in view of the repertory of American music which the orchestra of Cincinnati put on record:
Gershwin's Concerto in F played by Alec Templeton, Leon Stein's "Three Hassidic Dances", Robert Ward's Symphony No. 3, Henry Brant's Saxophone Concerto, but also because of the other recordings made with Thor Johnson as a conductor: Dvorak's Fourth Symphony and Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony.

Leon Stein's "Three Hassidic Dances" and Robert Ward's Symphony No. 3
The plastic inner sleeve was a novelty that soon was imitated by other  record labels.
Musirama sticker: Factory Sealed.

Yet Don Gabor had a feel for quality, but on a different level. Important to him were the attributes. When RCA introduced the groove guard (gruve guard), which not only protected the record grooves when sliding the disc into the hard cardboard cover and when taking it out, but saved an important amount of vinyl, Gabor was the first to have his records pressed the new way. He actually was the first to introduce a plastic bag to protect the record. Initially the bag had a printed text. Later on plain sleeves were used. Columbia followed this fashion and introduced their plastic sleeves with the Columbia and stereo logos printed on it. The text on the plastic inner sleeve read:
"This plastic envelope will protect the Full Dynamic Range, Balanced Sound and Laboratory Tested High Fidelity of this REMINGTON RECORD". These words speak for themselves and were solely intended to impress the record buyer by promising a quality that really was not there.

To accentuate the new MUSIRAMA quality Don Gabor had stickers printed in gold and black. The text on the sticker read: "Factory Sealed", giving the impression that all possible care was taken to offer a high quality record to the customer. Other manufacturers followed that idea, afraid as they were not be seen as caring for quality at the same level and to miss attention. London records, for instance, had little silver stickers printed and they adorned many covers.
Gabor used the stickers also to seal the inner sleeves, sometimes to the dismay of the record collector because stickers could accidentally stick on the record's surface. We must admit that some of the new Remington Musirama recordings were of a rather high technical standard and the possibility was there to gradually improve standards and to continu the label evantually as a high quality label.

The later pressings of the newest MUSIRAMA releases had red and later blue labels in the same style. Then the pressings were lighter in weight which was more economical and was feasable because of the application of the groove guard. The sound does also differ. The early heavy black label MUSIRAMA records were cut using different electronics with a more tangible sound. The lighter red and blue labeled pressings had a somewhat thinner, less appreciated sound quality.

Near the end of the existence of the Remington label the design of the cover was changed once again. Now the Remington logo was smaller and not placed any longer at the left border of the covers. The MUSIRAMA triangle remained. The latest recordings had Anatole Fistoulari (Tchaikovsky's "Francesca da Rimini" and "Theme and Variations from Suite No. 3" - R-199-203), Leopold Ludwig (Hindemith: Mathis der Maler - R-199-209), Otto Matzerath (Schumann: Symphony No.2 - R-199-213), and Eugene(Eugen) Szenkar (Stravinsky: "Firebird" and Prokofiev: "Classical Symphony" - R-199-212; Szenkar's recording was made with the Düsseldorf Symphony instead of the RIAS orchestra).

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An important aspect of Gabor's marketing strategy always was to have a second, or even a third and cheaper label. Plymouth was the important second label Don Gabor exploited simultaneously with Remington. The releases on Plymouth mentioned different names of orchestras and often omitted the names of the conductors, but the performing soloists were mentioned.
The same recording of Beethoven's 5th Concerto played by
Felicitas Karrer and conductor Kurt Wöss with the Austrian Symphony Orchestra appeared on Plymouth as being performed by Felicitas Karrer and the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra. No conductor was mentioned.

The same procedure was followed for other recordings like Rachmaninoff's 2nd Concerto by Karrer and Wöss. The name of Wöss is omitted on cover and label. The orchestra is again the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra. It is not clear if the recording of violinist Walter Schneiderhan and pianist Erich Berg performing Beethoven's "Kreutzer Sonata" on Plymouth P 12-21 was also released on Remington. A few releases appeared only on the cheap Plymouth label. One of these was a recording allegedly by the Linz Symphony (no conductor named) of short pieces by Haydn, Arne and others.

In the first years of the company's Lp business there was also the Merit Records label.
Proof of its existence at the time is the recording of Frieda Valenzi's performances of Brahms' "Schumann Variations" and Schumann's "Fantasie" on "Merit Popular Classics" with reference number M-200-28 as it exists in Frieda Valenzi's own collection. Most Plymouth releases had both the Plymouth as well as the Merit logo placed in the left upper corner.

The recording of Rachmaninoff's 2nd Concerto released on Remington R-199-32 and on Plymouth P12-12.

Gabor, knowing that his product was lacking in technical quality and could not keep up with the race, gradually leveled down the items of the Remington catalog to products for the supermarket and gas stations to increase the turnover. The relatively small company did not have enough funds to improve the standard by hiring better production facilities. The result was that Remington recordings were no longer taken seriously by the competition and the reviewers. Most records did not have liner notes anymore, but just listed the other recordings which were available. The lists were topped by slogans like "Popular Classics - Famous European Orchestras & Soloists", "The World's Best Loved Music" and "Music for the millions". The omission of liner notes makes it often impossible to trace data about the performing artists. The lists of the Remington catalog was sometimes printed on the back of Plymouth records and vice versa. This also was proof that the product was not seriously handled anymore. And it occured that a cover of a Remington record was made of a cover for a Plymouth record as the inside showed.

From 1958 on the recordings were released on different labels, exclusively sold in supermarkets, at gasstations, and in general stores. This was clearly a sign that the releases were not meant for the knowledgeable collector and they were not listed in the Schwann catalog. The specialist magazines and newspapers refrained from reviewing them. The labels were Paris, Palace, Webster, Buckingham. The plastic inner sleeves of the Paris records had an image of the Eiffel Tower placed in the center of a record. But also the labels Merit and Plymouth were continued.

For September 1958 the introduction of the stereo-Lp was planned. To market his existing catalogue once again and eventually add new recordings in stereo, Gabor activated his Masterseal-label on a larger scale. The labelname was already mentioned in the Schwann catalog of January 1952 but only a few Masterseal-releases were listed. It was not without meaning that Gabor had masterfully chosen the name Masterseal.

Many a Masterseal release was initinally pressed from the already existing Remington plates. Later new plates were made from the old tapes or newer tapes were acquired and Austria seemed an important source. Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Scheherazade' on Masterseal MSLP 5012 does not mention Karl Rucht as on Remington R-199-11, but Kurt Wöss as conductor. Was Rucht's name deliberately replaced by Wöss? Or was it a new recording?
The Masterseal-records were put into modern sleeves adorned with photographs. Photography was the new fashion which was followed by all the labels. With regret I noted that the inspiring designs by artists like
Alexander Steinweiss, Curt John Witt, H. Kaebitz, Wattley, Slonevski, Albitz, Otto Rado, Rudolph de Harak and Einhorn had gone and this I considered the end of my 'Obscure Adventure".

At left and below early Masterseal recordings from 1951 of Fritz Busch and Vittorio Gui respectively.

The logo of the Masterseal editions from 1957. Masterseal stamps could be saved for special offers or price reduction.

Masterseal coupon - stamps See Remington advertisements.


Now most new recordings were done in the US. And if they had not been recorded in stereo than the recordings were enhanced in electronic stereo. Also new real stereo recordings of all sorts of genre were made. And aparently in some cases tapes from the Viennese Symphonic Orchestra were bought and released. The stereo release on Masterseal of Tchaikovsky's Violin concerto states that Michèle Auclair is the soloist, but in reality she was not the performing artist at all. Her name was only there to increase sales or to bypass copyright. The Masterseal mono edition of Tchaikovsky's Concerto Op. 23 was the re-release of the Conrad Hansen/Wolfgang Sawallisch recording.

The stereo-edition of Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto on Masterseal also states Hansen as the soloist, while in reality he was not the performing pianist. He never recorded this concerto in stereo. Who the performers of these concertos really were is not known to me.
The Masterseal records had stamps on the cover which were at one time partly glued to the back of the cover. The record collector could save the Masterseal stamps. What was given in return for a certain number of stamps is not known. Probably there were few music lovers who bought more than one or two records, so only in a few cases premiums would have been given.

When a Masterseal record in a stylish gatefold cover was released to commemorate the deseased conductor Fritz Busch, Don Gabor printed on the inside that the record was a production of International Masterworks Inc. Columbia records objected to the use of the mention of International Masterworks Inc. which was not only misleading, but was unlawfull. Columbia also argued that the label's name MASTERSEAL was confounding the record buying public with MASTERWORKS.

Although the early gatefold deluxe editions were not seen as a threat by Columbia as they were few, when Gabor introduced the later series around 1957, there was a lawsuit and Don Gabor finally had to give up the name. He surely had not reckoned with the fact that he had to give up Masterseal on such a short notice when he revived it. In order not to start over, the discs were released without the proper Masterseal logo and label and instead the old Remington Musirama label was used as a temporary measure. Masterseal was finally disontinued and other labels were created. The same happened when David and Samual Josefowitz of Concert Hall Society recordings introduced their subscription label Musical Masterworks Society. They were not allowed to use 'Masterworks' and the name was changed to Musical Masterpiece Society.

On some Paris and Palace releases names of orchestras and performers were not always mentioned correctly. The object was of course to divert the buyer and give the impression that the recording differed from the earlier Remington or Plymouth discs. But it could as well be that Gabor avoided paying the artist and th original producer.

Hans Sailer conducts the International Symphony Orchestra in the Suite from Swan Lake Op. 20 (Tchaikovsky) while this probably is the recording of Jonel Perlea with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra. The disc features also the "1812 Overture" (Tchaikovsky) conducted by Hans Sailer. Comparing this release to the Masterseal edition of the 1812 Overture conducted by Kurt Wöss, it is clear that Hans Sailer is definitely not Kurt Wöss.
Another name is Jacques Fontanna who conducts the Viennese Symphonic Orchestra in Brahms's 1st Symphony, while here the conductor could be H. Arthur Brown from the early release of Brahms's First.

Kurt Baumann conducts Grieg's Suite No. 2 from the music to "Peer Gynt" and Liszt's 1st Concerto on PST-610. The Suite No. 1 can be found on Side 2 of Palace M-601 with on the first side Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet Overture". That is clever programming! Now the record company mentioned on the covers is Continental Records. But also Buckingham Records is used as company name, but the adress is the same: 630 9th Avenue.

Alexander Jenner's Beethoven/Chopin program was first released on Remington. The Chopin pieces appeared on Plymouth coupled with the Etudes Op. 25.
The same Plymouth plates were used for the Paris release. But now the pianist was named Robert Garand. For obvious reasons: the license had expired.
Alexander Jenner with Beethoven and Chopin.    

Palace PST 603 mentions Manfred van Cleef as soloist in Tchaikovsky's 1st Concerto performed with the Austrian Symphony Orchestra. This probably is the later recording with Conrad Hansen as soloist. A pianist with the name Manfred van Cleef most certainly did not exist.
Recordings of works by Beethoven and Chopin played by Alexander Jenner were originally released on Remington (R-199-11). On Plymouth P12-20 Chopin's Etudes plus two Polonaises and Fantasy Impromptu are released. Title of the disc is 'Chopin Melodies', and added is the name Alexander Jenner and the words 'recorded in Europe'. The same program appeared later on the Paris label with the title 'Chopin Piano Favorites'. The plates are those of the Plymouth release. But now the performer is George Garand, a non existing pianist, but a name subconsciously related to maybe George Sand while Garand suggest greatness and quality?

Liszt's Piano concerto No. 1 from Remington R-199-166 performed by Edward Kilenyi with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jonel Perlea seems to have appeared in a slightly different tonal balance and in fake-stereo on Palace PST-610 but is attributed to the Viennese Symphonic Orchestra and conductor Kurt Baumann. No mention of the pianist is made. And it is not sure if this was the Kilenyi recording. Remington recordings were still listed in the 1958 Schwann Artist Catalog. But by that time the label was more or less discontinued.

In 1962 Gabor revived the Continental-label and once again marketed the recordings of Red Norvo with Sarah Vaughan and Ethel Waters which had become vintage recordings by now. He also added recordings by artists of popular music and folk music, which always had been his strength. The Continental label lasted untill 1965. Some of the few releases which were listed:

#1501/6001 - Victor Zembruski: 'Dance'
#1502/1509 - Ivan Deszö: Notakiraly (Vol.1&2, 2Lp)
#1512/3 - National Opera Company of Lithuania
#16002 - Dupree: 'Champion Jack'
#16004 - Charlie Parker: Bird Live with Sarah Vaughan
#16005 - Red Norvo: Mainstream Jazz
#16008 - Ethel Waters sings with Heard
#4001(mono)/2001(stereo) - Fiesta, Spanish Serenaders
#4002(mono)/2002(stereo) - Memoria d'Espana, Spanish Serenaders
#4003(mono)/2003(stereo) - Admiral Davis, Pandemonias (Calypso)
#4008(mono)/2008(stereo) - Hawaiian Serenaders
#4009(mono)2009(stereo) - Carlos Montoya with Almaden

After the introduction of the 8 track casette Gabor produced his own brand: Radiant. On it were bootleg recordings of among others Judy Garland TV Shows released. Gabor was sued and fined and had to pay for the illegal releases.
In the nineteen seventies 8 track stereo cartridges with the name Remington were also marketed.
That was actually the end of Don Gabor's life as a producer.
He died in November 1980. The company was sold. The new owner ran into trouble -as Tom Null told me- when he was releasing bootleg recordings and other material for which the rights had expired or had not been paid for, or could never have been owned. The FBI investigated and the new owner was convicted to serve a prison sentence. Rumours say that it was for other and not music related reasons that this man was convicted. In any case: most of the material was confiscated by the FBI. There are certainly must be stored quite some treasures in the vaults of the FBI if they have not been destroyed.



Copyright 1995-2008 by Rudolf A. Bruil