Schnabel/Beethoven - A Terrific Bargain

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JackC
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Schnabel/Beethoven - A Terrific Bargain

Post by JackC » Wed Apr 11, 2007 8:38 pm

There are some of us who feel that Artur Schnabel's recording of all 32 of Beethoven's piano sonatas towers above all other recordings of the "New Testament" of piano music (Bach's 48 being the "Old Testament") that have been made since.

Even those who have problems with some of Schnabel's playing in these recordings tend to acknowledge that these recordings MUST at least be heard, and are a great historical document.

Well -- you can now get the whole set, all 32, for $16.49. That's 10 CDs for $16.49. Yes, folks, that's just $1.65 per CD of what some think are the greatest recordings of the piano music that sits, with a very few other pieces, at the summit of the Western Culture.

Here is a link:

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... _id=136812


I have several different transfers of these recordings, from the ultra-expensive Pearl transfers, to the recent Naxos , and others. (Obviously, I just treasure these recordings.) This box just arived in my office today and I put it on this evening at work. I thought the sound was very good (though my office system isn't the best to judge) - certainly much better than the transfers that EMI released for about $90 for the set!!

So, if you ever thought of getting the Schnabel Beethoven sonata recordings, but hesitated, don't pass this up. Get them now!

(I have no interest in Archiv Music or the label that made these transfers)

Chalkperson
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Post by Chalkperson » Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:00 pm

The same source has two 10cd boxes of Michaelangeli equally good value at $1.49 per disc

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... bcorder=62

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Wed Apr 11, 2007 10:47 pm

Great news! I've got the EMI set, and know from the better remasters of Casals on Naxos compared tot he EMI set how poor EMI can be with historical transfers.

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Post by Lance » Thu Apr 12, 2007 9:59 am

Brendan wrote:Great news! I've got the EMI set, and know from the better remasters of Casals on Naxos compared tot he EMI set how poor EMI can be with historical transfers.
I've got the EMI set, too, and was somewhat disppointed with their remastering. They have improved their "process" considerably since that set was issued in comparison to other historical reissues. The German Electrola LPs, and even the American COLH/Angel big boxed LP set seemed to have better sound. The best transfers of Schnabel's Beethoven, IMHO, is the Naxos available everywhere except in the USA now. I have another complete Schnabel set on the Dante label [107-120] that wasn't too bad, and was also available for a "song" for a long time. That company, of course, is no longer in business. Arkadia also issued the sonatas.
Lance G. Hill
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otterhouse
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Post by otterhouse » Thu Apr 12, 2007 11:55 am

Is Membran a good sounding label?

I have the Schnabel set on Century classics, resonabally good.

Rolf

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Post by Lance » Thu Apr 12, 2007 4:01 pm

otterhouse wrote:Is Membran a good sounding label?

I have the Schnabel set on Century classics, resonabally good.

Rolf
Sometimes good, sometimes not so good or only fair. I get the impression they may have copied from other sources with little or no engineering on their part. It's trade-off, however. The prices are usually outstanding and the quality is generally acceptable. Dyed-in-the-wool collectors will generally opt for the best possible, authentic and most reliable transfers regardless of the cost. Any transfers by, especially, Michael Dutton, Mark Obert-Thorn or Ward Marston; David Lennick, and a couple of others are considered the best by most veteran collectors, critics, and reviewers.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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JackC
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Post by JackC » Thu Apr 12, 2007 4:23 pm

I agree - anyone who nows these recordings and is looking for the best possible transfer should go to Naxos, Pearl or possibly elsewhere.


But for $16.49, there is no excsue for anyone who cares about Beethoven's piano sonatas not to get this set and hear what all the fuss for the last 70 years about these these recordings has been about.

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Post by Chalkperson » Thu Apr 12, 2007 4:35 pm

I get the impression they may have copied from other sources with little or no engineering on their part.

I agree, at this price they must be copies, of course we can rip them in i-tunes and do a Hatto like comparison...I have the set that has the Concertos with Sir Malcolm Sargent as well on Dante/Lys which I think were ripped from the Pearl Set...

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Post by Lance » Thu Apr 12, 2007 5:09 pm

Chalkperson wrote:I get the impression they may have copied from other sources with little or no engineering on their part.

I agree, at this price they must be copies, of course we can rip them in i-tunes and do a Hatto like comparison...I have the set that has the Concertos with Sir Malcolm Sargent as well on Dante/Lys which I think were ripped from the Pearl Set...
Well, this pilfering from technical "artists" who spend great sums of time and money to reconstruct old recordings is what puts the good ones out of business. Then the ones that did the copying also go out of business. [Many Italian companies make a regular practice of copying, but it is not just limited to the Italians.] It's a vicious circle/cycle. And there isn't anybody to stop it - and to PROVE the discs have been copied illegally, one has to go to considerable expense. Archipel is one company who has issued a HUGE number of recordings making their CDs available at a fraction of normal cost. They bearned none of the original costs of recording nor paying royalties to the artists. The quality on Archipel, however, is generally excellent. They say on the CD: "From original sources." This can usually be taken to mean that the recordings are transferred from LPs or already-issued CDs, which fall outside of the duplication laws. Original source, to me, means original tapes or masters of any kind.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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premont
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Post by premont » Thu Apr 12, 2007 6:26 pm

Some examples of Membran releases:

Buxtehude organ integral / Ulrik Spang-Hanssen and
Bach organ integral / Knud Vad
both licensed from Classico.
Both releases from a technical point of view better than the original Classico CD releases, with more transparent and present sound.

And Bach organ integral / Walcha mono. Uncertain if licensed from DG Archiv or not. Compared to the recent Original Masters release from DG a bit different, some will say better, with a discrete amount of ambience added to the dry original mono sound.

Some Beethoven sonatas Kempff mono, can´t be distinguished from the latest DG CD release.

I own the Naxos release of the Schnabel Beethoven sonatas as well as the Membran release, both are waiting in my CDs-to-be-listened-to pile. May tell about the difference later.

Wallingford
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Post by Wallingford » Thu Apr 12, 2007 7:33 pm

big freakin' deal.....

6 years back, I picked up for a mere $3.50 the RCA Victor 13-LP set from the mid-50s at a library sale. MINT CONDITION, too......for many of us, STILL the most realistic picture of the Schnabel sound (colors, dynamic range--both of which the man had in abundance). Had the first EMI CD reissue, and it could've given me a headache.

And RCA at the time had access to pristine metal masters.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:38 am

Lance wrote:
Brendan wrote:Great news! I've got the EMI set, and know from the better remasters of Casals on Naxos compared tot he EMI set how poor EMI can be with historical transfers.
I've got the EMI set, too, and was somewhat disppointed with their remastering. They have improved their "process" considerably since that set was issued in comparison to other historical reissues. The German Electrola LPs, and even the American COLH/Angel big boxed LP set seemed to have better sound.
Lance, do you have any of the Seraphim issues of Schnabel's Beethoven sonata cycle? In the early 1980s, the Seraphims were re-packaged in white boxes under the same catalog numbers. I believe this re-packaging signaled that these were re-masters based on the newly (then) issued transfers of Keith Hardwick. I don't know this to be the case, and haven't run across any of the white box editions in second-hand shops.

The EMI CDs purport to be the Hardwick transfers, but lack the solidity and brightness of his work. Either they have been poorly re-equalized or they are the old COLH transfers and are misidentified on the box.

John

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Post by Lance » Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:23 am

CharmNewton wrote:Lance, do you have any of the Seraphim issues of Schnabel's Beethoven sonata cycle? In the early 1980s, the Seraphims were re-packaged in white boxes under the same catalog numbers. I believe this re-packaging signaled that these were re-masters based on the newly (then) issued transfers of Keith Hardwick. I don't know this to be the case, and haven't run across any of the white box editions in second-hand shops.

The EMI CDs purport to be the Hardwick transfers, but lack the solidity and brightness of his work. Either they have been poorly re-equalized or they are the old COLH transfers and are misidentified on the box.

John
John:

Yes, I have the whole set reissued in Seraphim boxes (and the German Electrola set), the latter with much finer/quiter surfaces. I remember comparing the Seraphims to the GROC/COLH Angel set in that beautifully bound case, given to me for a birthday gift. I do not recall there being any difference between the Angel or Seraphim set. I was constantly trying to find the best surfaces of those sonatas on LPs in those days. The German Electrola set was the best of the lot on LP. I subsequently sold the Seraphim sets to buy something else since I had the original Angel and the Electrola issues. I checked the Electrola box [667.808/20] just now and the back liner notes state: "Transferred from 78s by Keith Hardwick," so we know that's his restoration/remastering for sure.

Speaking of Schnabel, I am still missing that set of Beethoven Bagatelles you brought to my attention to some time ago, issued only on LP in England. How I ever missed that set I'll never know! One wonders if EMI will EVER reissue those on compact disc. It's about time they did. I don't even know anyone who has the set or I would be bugging them to make me a CD copy. I think those were recorded just before Schnabel passed away and still fall under the copyright rulings.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Sat Apr 14, 2007 1:02 am

Lance wrote: Speaking of Schnabel, I am still missing that set of Beethoven Bagatelles you brought to my attention to some time ago, issued only on LP in England. How I ever missed that set I'll never know! One wonders if EMI will EVER reissue those on compact disc. It's about time they did. I don't even know anyone who has the set or I would be bugging them to make me a CD copy. I think those were recorded just before Schnabel passed away and still fall under the copyright rulings.[/color]
Yes, those Bagatelles are covered by copyright as they were first published in the late 1970s as part of the HMV Treasury issue of the sonatas. I remember the LPs--they were quite expensive at $24/$32 per 3/4-LP box (there were four of them).

I believe EMI will re-issue them, perhaps as part of a Schnabel edition, although with all the cheap editions of the sonatas available, a new edition would have to be special from the standpoint of transfers, packaging and presentation.

John

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Post by gfweis » Sat Apr 14, 2007 5:53 am

I've greatly appreciated this discussion of the Schnabel sonata recordings. Thanks to JackC for the notice about the Membran set, which I hadn't seen. And I look forward to premont's verdict on the Naxos vs. Membran issue.

I bought the EMI box when it came out in 1991---that was by far my biggest single classical recording expense to that date (and I will always be grateful to my wife for goiving me the go ahead). At the time I was just focused on the music. I didn't have much experience listening to historical material, and didn't know what to expect, especially from 1930's recordings. But now that I have more experience along these lines, that EMI set just hurts my ears. Often the piano sounds metallic and/or watery, making it hard for me to appreciate Schnabel and Beethoven. So I'm definitely looking to replace it with something. I've been putting off ordering the Naxos cds from mdt, because that's become a rather expensive way to go. So if the Membran set is even close to the Naxos in quality, it will be a cause for real celebration.
Greg Weis

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Post by Harvested Sorrow » Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:46 pm

So, do we have a general consensus yet on whether that particular Membran set is worth buying or not?

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Post by Chalkperson » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:02 pm

Harvested Sorrow wrote:So, do we have a general consensus yet on whether that particular Membran set is worth buying or not?
I have the two Michealangeli Boxes on Membran and the're fine, I say take a chance...

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Post by Lance » Thu Apr 19, 2007 5:32 pm

gfweis wrote:I've greatly appreciated this discussion of the Schnabel sonata recordings. Thanks to JackC for the notice about the Membran set, which I hadn't seen. And I look forward to premont's verdict on the Naxos vs. Membran issue.

I bought the EMI box when it came out in 1991---that was by far my biggest single classical recording expense to that date (and I will always be grateful to my wife for goiving me the go ahead). At the time I was just focused on the music. I didn't have much experience listening to historical material, and didn't know what to expect, especially from 1930's recordings. But now that I have more experience along these lines, that EMI set just hurts my ears. Often the piano sounds metallic and/or watery, making it hard for me to appreciate Schnabel and Beethoven. So I'm definitely looking to replace it with something. I've been putting off ordering the Naxos cds from mdt, because that's become a rather expensive way to go. So if the Membran set is even close to the Naxos in quality, it will be a cause for real celebration.
You might try JPC's web site in Germany. They are about $3.00/USD per disc cheaper than MDT. JPC has ONE flat postage rate, 12.99/Euro, but if you build the order high enough in dollars, it's well worth it. MDT's postage rates are on top of a product that is already $3.00/USD higher anyway. The JPC Naxos charge is around $6.83 per disc, at least it was yesterday. The US dollar changes from week to week.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Chalkperson
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Post by Chalkperson » Thu Apr 19, 2007 6:31 pm

Lance wrote: The US dollar changes from week to week.
Maybe that should have read, weak to weaker.

premont
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Post by premont » Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:57 pm

Harvested Sorrow wrote:So, do we have a general consensus yet on whether that particular Membran set is worth buying or not?
I have listened to a small part of the Membran set by now. It is not filtered as much as the first EMI CD release, but still too much in my opinion. I shall report more thoroughly in the weekend.

premont
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Post by premont » Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:58 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
Lance wrote: The US dollar changes from week to week.
Maybe that should have read, weak to weaker.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Post by Lance » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:36 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
Lance wrote: The US dollar changes from week to week.
Maybe that should have read, weak to weaker.
Yes, that's even more accurate! I sure wish things would change in this country - and in many areas.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Post by Lance » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:40 pm

Anybody who really wants to own the Schnabel Beethoven set would do well to acquire the Naxos issues. I have the EMI CD set, and several LP versions, including the big COLH-series set. The best on LP is the one on the German Electrola label with DMM mastering and pressings. Personally, I did not find the EMI set offensive. I still hear the bell-like//non-strident tones of Herr Schnabel's Bechstein piano. Companies like Membran are taking the work of other restoration engineers and filtering or equalizing the sound to their own tastes. The price is right but you really want to hear Schnabel as Schnabel heard himself at least on recordings.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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