About Stravinsky: Symphonies (Speakers Corner) by Stravinsky:
It is well known that the mature Stravinsky was candidly scathing about some of his early compositions. However, he did subscribe a measure of academic value to his very first symphony, if only to show how one should not compose. In the following decades he wrote his so-called neo-classical symphonies, but these too found no mercy in the eyes and ears of avant-garde extremists, and are thus among the most underestimated orchestral compositions of the 20th century.
The new aspiration to write with clarity and simplicity, and so turning away from late-romantic and impressionistic expression, is already found in the key of C major, which has no accidentals. But the compositional technique is tricky: sharp polytonal melodies grow out of tonal islands, which, however never result in pleasant-sounding cadences even after numerous attempts to do so.
The Symphony in Three Movements, too, breaks with tradition as regards its formal structure, which Stravinsky himself regarded as "naďve". All the more intricate, however, is the ingenious melodiousness, which is unfolded with ballet-like rhythms by the whole orchestra.
This fresh, bold music definitely needs to be performed by an astute and dauntless ensemble – such as West-Swiss Orchestre de la Suisse Romande conducted by Ernest Ansermet, an ardent champion of modern works.
Recording: April 1960 at Victoria Hall, Geneva (Switzerland), by Roy Wallace
Production: Ray Minshull
About Speakers Corner
At the beginning of the 90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the situation was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and, of course, Speakers Corner all maintained a mutual, unwritten ethical code: we would only use analogue tapes to manufacture records.
During the course of the present vinyl hype, many others have jumped on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source to master from: CDs, LPs, digital files, MP3s – or employed existant tools from the 80s and 90s for manufacturing.
A digital delay is gladly used when cutting a lacquer disc because tape machines with an analogue delay have become quite rare and are therefore expensive. When cutting the lacquer, the audio signal is delayed by one LP revolution against the signal, which controls the cutter head, and for this a digital delay is very often employed. Of course, the resultant sound signal is completely digital and thus only as good as this delay.
We should like to emphasise that Speakers Corner Records on principle only uses the original master tape as the basis for the entirely analogue cutting of lacquer discs. In addition, the pressing tool is newly manufactured as a matter of principle. We have one digital recording in our catalogue (Alan Parsons / Eye In The Sky“), but even in this particular case we used the analogue tapes for cutting.
We only employ existing tools for manufacturing if an improved result is not forthcoming, e.g. the title Elvis Is Back, which was mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray, or several titles from our Philips Classics series, which in any case Willem Makkee cut from the original masters at the Emil Berliner Studios in the 90s. It goes without saying that we only used the mother and that new tools were made for our production.
To put it in a nutshell: we can ensure you that our releases are free from any kind of digital effects – excluding the exception above – and that the lacquer discs are newly cut.