Sound Fountain



Tom Null's Varèse-Sarabande
The Remington Series - 11 releases

Before Tom Null officially became a producer of records, he had met Donald H. Gabor of Remington Records Inc. already in 1966. It was from Don Gabor that Tom Null learned much about the record industry and its business. Several years later he started his own record label named Sarabande. It must have been a small label as it was not discovered in the listings of labels on the last pages of the catalogs. There was another record label which was added to the list in Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog, issue August 1973, for the first time. Its name was Varèse. It was a wise decision of both companies to merge in 1977. The new label name then became Varèse-Sarabande.
Tom Null, Artist & Repertoire Director of the California based yet internationally very active Varèse-Sarabande label, never lost contact with Donald H. Gabor in New York. Null knew about the early Remington recordings Don Gabor had told him about. Gabor gave him permission to search the boxes with tapes of Remington recordings made in the nineteen fifties in the US, France, Austria and Germany. It was not an easy task and not every tape could be used. Many had been badly stored and were deteriorated. Null searched and evaluated for hours on end. In an article in Billboard Magazine of September 2, 1978, with the heading Classical Rare Classics, Tom Null recalls "One time I spent two hours rolling a tape off the floor after one of the reels collapsed."

His idea was to issue recordings in a series of special editions named "Remington Series". There were real finds like an unissued Dohnanyi Sonata, the First Symphony of Sibelius conducted by Jussi Jalas which had never been released on Remington before, and the stereo recordings of the Cincinnati Symphony made in the fall of 1953. Of the latter recordings only the Sibelius and Dvorak performances were in tact.
  The recordings of Prokofiev's Second Concerto with Jorge Bolet, Gerswin's Concerto in F with Alec Templeton and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2, all conducted by Thor Johnson, were either not found or were in bad shape and could not be used.
The recordings eligible for a reissue had to be equalized in accordance with the latest RIAA frequency characteristic adopted by the record industry in the second half of the nineteen seventies.

The first record was released in February 1978. And there were many to follow. One issue was of the performances by the Helsinki University Chorus, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, baritone Sulo Saarits and conductor Thor Johnson, of the cantata The Origin Of Fire, the symphonic poem Pohjola's Daughter (both works by Jean Sibelius), and 8 songs performed a capella by the Helsinki University Chorus.

  These performances of the Cincinnati Symphony and the Helsinki University Male Chorus were originally made in stereo in November 1953. The recordings were supervised by Don Gabor and Laszlo Halasz. The technician was Robert Blake. In 1955 the performances were released in mono on Remington R-199-167 and R-199-191 respectively. Tom Null issued these recordings for the first time in stereo on Varèse-Sarabande VC 81941.

Another recording was of Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 (at the time numbered as No. 4), again with the Cincinnati Symphony conducted by Thor Johnson and originally released on R-199-168. The Varèse-Sarabande release has reference number VC 81044. This also was a recording done in stereo. Sound engineer was Robert Blake. Producers were Don Gabor and Laszlo Halasz.

Listen to the Second Movement.

Legendary Simon Barere can be found on VC 81045. Some of the live performances were recorded on acetates in Carnegie Hall by Simon Barere's son Boris and show the disadvantage of not being able to splice, yet the advantage of the live performance. The studio recordings for Remington Records bear all the technical benefits of the tape recorder. There were recordings of two Etudes from Scriabin's Op. 8 (Nos. 10 and 12) which had never been released on record before.
VC 81045 of Barere is in fact an original Don Gabor Production prepared for a re-release by Tom Null, Dub Taylor, and Chris Kuchler. Remastered by Bruce Leek. Duplication engineer was John Arici. Regrettably Barere's most famous interpretation of the Sonata of Franz Liszt did not find a place in The Remington Series, probably because of copyright which was owned by Simon Barere's son Boris. The Sonata in B was later issued by APR.
Simon Barere often emphasized the virtuosity of the compositions, and it is obvious that speed is generally a major ingredient of his interpretations and to opt for speed means at times a restriction resulting in untidy playing. Nevertheless there have been outstanding renderings recorded, for example Chopin's Scherzo No. 3 and Blumenfeld's Etude for the Left Hand.

Varèse-Sarabande issued VC 81040 with the tapes from which the very early, original Masterseal MW 46 was cut. It is likely that the recordings of the Masterseal LP were produced for the Austrian Broadcasting Services (ORF) by Marcel Prawy together with Erich Wolfgang von Korngold himself as the luxurious Masterseal bears the emblem "A Marcel Prawy Production", and copyright remained with Korngold.
Three compositions by Georges Enesco conducted by the maestro himself: Rumanian Rhapsodies Nos. 1 and 2, and Dixtuor recorded in 1951 with the Colonne Orchestra from Paris. Varèse-Sarabande VC 81042.
The recordings of the two Romanian Rhapsodies and of Dixtuor are the only taped Remington recordings of George Enesco as a conductor.
Georges Enesco is accompanied by pianist Céliny Chaillez-Richez (should read Chailley-Richez) while performing his Sonata No. 2, the famous recording originally pressed on R-149-42. Violinist Albert Spalding is accompanied by Ernst von Dohnanyi in Dohnanyi's Sonata Op. 1, a recording which never was issued on a Remington disc before, now issued on Varèse-Sarabande VC 81048.
Dohnanyi and Enesco VC 81048
Albert Spalding Violin Concerto Johannes Brahms The Remington Series
From 1950 on Albert Spalding was contracted by Don Gabor starting with the recordings made with Ernst von Dohnanyi and culminating in the recordings of the Beethoven en Brahms Violin Concertos.
The Brahms was originally issued on Remington R-199-145 and now had found its release on VC 81059. Spalding recorded this Concerto with the Austrian Symphony Orchestra, Wilhelm Loibner conducting. The tape of the Beethoven concerto could obviously not be used. It is missing in the Series.
In July 1950 H. Arthur Brown, conductor of the Tulsa Philharmonic, traveled to Vienna to make recordings of works by Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Brahms, and Rimsky-Korsakov. He also recorded a work by American composer Don Gillis entitled Tulsa, A Portrait In Oil which was originally pressed on R-149-13 and re-released by Null on VC 81046.

On the Varèse-Sarabande cover of the recording of John Freeman's String Quartet performed by the Koeckert Quartett the name of Klaus Schlupp is mentioned as First Violinist which is quite odd because the Quartett was named after Rudolf Koeckert who was First Violinist.

Koeckert's name was obviously not mentioned in the original documents from 1954 because he was under contract with Deutsche Grammophon at the time. So the name of violinist Klaus Schlupp was borrowed for the occasion. Whether Schlupp (who can be found on the CFD, Turnabout and Nonesuch labels) really substituted Koeckert when the recording was made is not certain.

On the same disk Three Gymnopedies (Peggy Glanville-Hicks) and Sinfonietta (Dane Rudhyar) performed by the RIAS Symphony conducted by Jonel Perlea.

The members of the Koeckert Quartett are Rudolf Koeckert (1st Violin), Willy Buchner (2nd Violin), Oskar Riedl (Viola) and Josef Merz (violoncello).
Image taken from the back of Deutsche Grammophon 13154 LPM.

And there is John Freeman's String Quartet No. 1 composed in 1950-1951, Freeman's Quartet was recorded in Berlin when the recordings with the RIAS Symphony were made. The short composition has three movements. It was never issued on a Remington disc.

Donald Gabor and Laszlo Halasz produced several recordings in cooperation with the American Composers Association. The liner notes give recording dates, equipment used and if LP records were the basis of the transfer. The recorded works:

Concerto for Orchestra (Ulysses Kay) by 'Orchestra Sinfonica del Teatro la Fenice', conducted by Jonel Perlea, recorded in Venice in July of 1953.

Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (Henry Brant), with Sigurd Rascher and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conducted by Thor Johnson. Concerto for Organ and Brasses (Normand Lockwood) performed by Marilyn Mason and members of the New York Philharmonic: John Ware and Nathan Prager (Trumpets) and Gordon Pulis and Lewis Hancy (Trombones).
Brant's Concerto was recorded in December 1953 in Cincinnati. Recording engineer was Robert Blake. The Lockwood Concerto was recorded in 1953 in Saint Paul's Chapel at Columbia University. The Brant and Lockwood pieces were remastered straight from the original Remington tapes. The Kay Concerto was copied from a Near Mint LP pressing. VC 81047.
Jussi Jalas, son in law of Jean Sibelius, conducted Symphony No. 5 of Sibelius on R-199-201. He also recorded Symphony No. 1 but this recording never was released by Donald Gabor on Remington as the contract with Bertelsmann had prematurely ended.
Violinist Anja Ignatius is the soloist in Five Humoresques (Sibelius). The label and cover of VC 81043 mention Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra instead of RIAS Symphony as the release in Germany by Bertelsmann did.

Offenbachiana, which was arranged and orchestrated by conductor Manuel Rosenthal, was a commission from Remington Records. It was a sequel to "Gaieté Parisienne".

The cover of VC-81088 gives ample information about the recording.

It is the first release from the 30 ips full-track monaural master tapes, as it was Remington's practice to cut from 15 ips copies of their masters. The original issue (R-199-183) was available in the Spring of 1955 but mentioned in Schwann in September of 1955. (See the Dutch Advertisement). The issue was officially deleted in 1957, though it also appeared briefly reincarnated on the Webster, Paris and Masterseal labels. For this issue on Varèse-Sarabande some sonic improvements have been achieved through the use of modern equalization and mastering techniques.

The Varèse-Sarabande cover says Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. But at the time of the recording the orchestra was still named RIAS Symphony.

Except for the releases of the Brahms Violin Concerto and Dvorak's 4th (8th) Symphony, all covers were adorned with work by modern painters:
Klaske Zeilstra (Barere, Sibelius Symphony, Dohnanyi, Enesco conducts)
Thomas Hart Benton (Gillis, American Concertos)
Jean Delville (Sibelius Origin of Fire)
Pablo Picasso (Korngold).
The Offenbachinana issue bears the painting of Pierre-August Renoir with the title "At the Moulin de la Galette".

All images of covers from records in my personal collection.

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The Remington Series consist of 11 LP's.
In numerical order:

VC-81040 Korngold conducts Korngold
VC-81041 Sibelius: Origin of Fire, Pohjolah's Daughter, Songs - Cincinnati Symphony and Helsinki University Chorus
VC-81042 Enesco conducts Enesco
VC-81043 Sibelius Symphony No. 1 and 6 Humoresques - Jussi Jalas and Anja Ignatius (violin)
VC-81044 Dvorak Sym 8 - Thor Johnson and the Cincinnati Symphony
VC-81045 Simon Barere plays Liszt, Chopin
VC-81046 Gillis (Tulsa, a Picture in Oil) Glanville-Hicks, Rudhyar, John Freeman (String Quartet)
VC-81047 Kay, Brant, Lockwood Concertos
VC-81048 Dohnanyi plays Dohnanyi with Albert Spalding, and Enesco plays Enesco
VC-81059 Brahms Violin Concerto by Albert Spalding and Wilhelm Loibner conducting
VC-81088 Offenbachiana by Manuel Rosenthal

Page first published on 14 November 14, 2009


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