Steve Abrams wrote:
The final concert was issued on CD in stereo by Music & Arts in 1984. It is still available. This is a sad affair and the sound is not very good. (The mono broadcast with commentary can be downloaded from Opera Share.) However, the concert of March 21st is scheduled for release early next month, though there is nothing about it on the Music & Arts website. Toscanini is in much better form here and the (living) stereo sound is quite vivid. The program is the overture to the Barber of Seville followed by Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony.
Steve makes a few points here that need comment:
1) The March 21, 1954, concert *is* available, and *is* on the M&A website
as a December, 2006, release. The sound is indeed good (I was the restorer,
but I mention that only to let you know that the final product couldn't be
really good if the original wasn't.) The master tape had good sound, which
meant that most of my restoration was removing hum, ticks, and occasional
rumble *not* related to the subway (M&A told me to leave *that* one
extraneous feature in for local color. Since I live in Boston, I know how
the subway rumble in Symphony Hall becomes a "feature" of many recordings.)
Ben Grauer's commentary from the broadcast, much of which could be heard in
Carnegie Hall, has been superimposed wherever his ghostlike presence is
heard on the master tape.
PLEASE bear in mind that the final 2:12 of the third movement of the
Tchaikovsky are (sadly) missing in the stereo master tape; they ended up on
RCA's stereo demo reel along with the Damnation of Faust excerpts, and this
reel went missing shortly thereafter. NBC substituted a botched fake stereo
substitute for the missing music. I've replaced that by a superior-sounding
fake stereo insert. I won't go into details here, and I know that my
decision is controversial. Just read the CD pamphlet and listen to the CD
before drawing conclusions.
2) The April 4, 1954, concert which has been on an M&A CD since 1984 is
actually the same restoration used in its LP release in the 70s. As a
result, the restoration techniques employed at the time leave a lot to be
desired by today's non-linear editing standards. I'm working on a hybrid
reconstruction (stereo with broadcast commentary) as above, although this is
bound to remain in the can for quite a while. Economics preclude M&A from
releasing this item while the previous version is in circulation. Suffice it
to say that the sound is better than that heretofore released, so that the
only thing one need grapple with is whether the performances are good enough
to listen to more than once. That's a matter of taste and one's ability not
to think about what was going on both in the background and on stage.
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