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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.
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 the tapes 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 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 of songs performed a capella by the Helsinki University Chorus.

Varèse-Sarabande VC 81941 The Remington Series

These performances of the Cincinnati Symphony and the Helsinki University Male Choir 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.
Varèse-Sarabande release VC 81044 The Remington Series
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. There is a clip of the Second Movement on the Thor Johnson page.
The Legendary Pianist Simon Barere
Legendary Simon Barere can be found on VC 81045. Some of the live performances were taped in Carnegie Hall by Simon Barere's son Boris and show the disadvantage of not being able to splice. The studio performances for Remington Records bear all the technical benefits. 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 is in fact an original Don Gabor Production prepared for release by Tom Null, Dub Taylor, and Chris Kuchler. Remastered by Bruce Leek. Duplication engineer: John Arici. Regrettably Barere's most famous interpretation of the Sonata of Franz Liszt did not find a place in The Remington Series. It 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.
Simon Barere plays Liszt, Chopin, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Blumenfeld, Schumann, Balakirev The Remington Series

Korngold by Korngold

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.
 
George Enescu conducts Romanian Rhapsodies Nos. 1 and 2, and Dixtuor recorded in 1951 
      with the Colonne Orchestra
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.
 
 
Dohnanyi and Enesco VC 81048
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.
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 mising 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.
Glanville-Hicks, Rudhyar, Freeman on Varese Sarabande The Remington Series VC 81046

On the same disk Three Gymnopedies (Peggy Glanville-Hicks) and Sinfonietta (Dane Rudhyar) performed by the RIAS Symphony conducted by Jonel Perlea, plus the unique recording of John Freeman's String Quartet No. 1 composed in 1950-1951, here performed by the Koeckert Quartet. (Rudolf Koeckert, Willi Buchner, Oskar Riedl and Josef Merz.) Freeman's Quartet was recorded in Berlin when the recordings with the RIAS Symphony were made.

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 Kay Concerto was recorded in Venice in July 1953. 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.
Sigurd Rasche alto saxophone

Concerto for Orchestra (Ulysses Kay) by 'Orchestra Sinfonica del Teatro la Fenice', conducted by Jonel Perlea.

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).

Jussi Jalas and the RIAS Symphony Orchestra perform Sibelius Symphony No. 1
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 as the contract with Bertelsmann had prematurely ended. Violinist Anja Ignatius is the soloist in Five Humoresques. The label and cover of VC 81043 mention Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra instead of RIAS Symphony as the release in Germany by Bertelsmann did.
The cover of VC-81088 gives ample information about the recording of Offenbachiana, which was arranged and orchestrated by conductor Manuel Rosenthal on a commission from Remington Records. It was a sequel to "Gaieté Parisienne". This 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 which were also manufactured by Remington. For this issue on Varèse-Sarabande VC-81088. some sonic improvements have been achieved through the use of modern equalization and mastering techniques. The cover says Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. But at the time of the recording the orchestra was still the RIAS Symphony.

This page will be expanded.

All images of covers from records in my personal collection.

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".

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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
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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