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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:24 am 
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I want to buy the complete Beethoven sonatas with Schnabel but I always get confused about which remastering to get as there seems to be several strong opinions in review-land as to what is the best. At the moment I can get the set on Regis for around $28 - does anyone know if Regis have remastered this or is it a straight reprint from another label - and if so which one? Is the remastering any good on this set? If not which label is the best to get - with some consideration in regards to price and availability!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:31 am 
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The only set I have heard is the EMI, whose sound I did not like. I believe it was over-filtered. I understand that the piano in the Naxos set has a more natural timbre. Others (perhaps including Lance) rave about the set that appeared on Dante, but just try to find it!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:04 am 
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A reviewer at amazon.com likes the sound of the Regis transfers (he hasn't heard the EMI set), but complains that the pauses between the sonatas are way too short.

http://www.amazon.com/Schnabel-Complete-Beethoven-Piano-Sonatas/dp/B0000V86PA

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:52 am 
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I would get the set on the Pearl label or on the Naxos label. The Pearl set has the most background noice because there is no attempt to filter out hiss from the 78s. I don't mind the hiss, so it is my favorite set because it seems to me to be the most natural sounding. I think it captures the most of Schnabel's amazing tone and use of color. The Naxos set does some filtering, so it is quieter, but it is done intelligently and the sounds is very full without beng dull.

The EMI set is an absolute disaster and is to be avoided at all costs. There is so much filtering you can hardly hear the playing. It sounds as if the pianio is buried in mud. Can't speak to others.


Last edited by JackC on Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:58 am 
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JackC wrote:
I would get the set on the Pearl label or on the Naxos label. The Pearl set has the most background noice because there is no attempt to filter out hiss from the 78s. I don't mind the hiss, so it is my favorite set because it seems to me to be the most natural sounding. I think it captures the most of Schnabel's amazing tone and color. The Naxos set does some filtering, so it is quieter, but it is done intelligently and the sounds is very full without beng dull.

The EMI set is an absolute disaster and is to be avoided at all costs. There is so much filtering you can hardly hear the playing. It sounds as if the pianio is buried in mud. Can't speak to others.


I just went online and see that the Pearl and Naxos sets may not be available now. If you can find them, they would be worth getting. If not, my strong advice would be to stay away from the EMI CDs, which I see ARE still available. They are truly terrible.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:29 am 
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arthound, Schnabel's playing is simply amazing. Please get the 8 CD EMI set or the 9 individual Naxos CDs. I know the EMI set is available and I listened to many of the Sonatas again, just for you. If sound is what you are after, then you have missed what reissuing this extraordinarily great set is about. Do not worry, the EMI set is very listenable and that is what this is all about..Schnabel over sonics. You will not be dissapointed. The Naxos are slightly better in sound but the entire set has one extra CD and you will have to hunt and peck to find it, mate.

I recommend the EMI box set enthusiatically, even though the sonics are not that good..Good enough, though for these masterful performances. Schnabel's Beethoven is a once in a lifetime experience. It is all about the performance, not the sound. Get it now. 8)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:06 pm 
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USED TO have the EMI set....sound is too clinky-clanky.

Don't know about the other CD reissues, but I'm most happy to finally have the first LP reissue--on RCA Victor, 13 Lps, early 50s. RCA had direct access to the original metal masters, and was able to get what (to my ears) is STILL the most natural-sounding transfer of Schnabel's tone color & huge dynamic range.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:21 pm 
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I, too, have the EMI set taken from the original 78-pm discs. I see that this set, issued under the same catalogue number [63765, 8 CDs] is now available at a budget price. At one time, it was close to $90/USA for the set. I also have a few of the Obert-Thorn-Naxos-released CDs, which are very well done. I was not disturbed at all with the EMI set's sound since I felt they captured the quality of Schnabel's mellow-voiced Bechstein pianos quite faithfully. I also have the Dante 14-CD set [107-120, out-of-print], which includes Beethoven's five piano concertos. I thought this was also a faithful reproduction of the 78s (or possibly transfers from someone else's efforts - who knows?). The late Keith Hardwick of EMI accomplished the EMI remasters himself and he was a no-nonsense kind of guy who would not tamper with sound to the detriment of the originals. I am not sure what people are hearing in their EMI sets that they find offensive or objectionable, although the discs themselves could be problematical copies for production reasons.

On LP, I also have the original Angel-COLH deluxe boxed edition when first issued in the USA (a wonderful birthday gift from my other half!), also the Seraphim/USA boxed sets (which largely sound the same as the COLH edition), and the German Electrola “DMM” LP transfers, the latter of which I thought were outstanding. Other independent labels have also issued Schnabel's Beethoven sonatas in varying quality that I would tend to avoid.

In the end, my suggestion is to go for the original EMI boxed set, which is taken from original HMV masters OR go with the Naxos Historical releases as remastered by Mark Obert-Thorn. The Naxos, in this case, will now cost more than the original EMI set.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:11 pm 
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I have the Regis Box and other than Schnabel's playing it is a good set of discs, better transfers than EMI though, i'm not 100% sure but I seem to remember that it was originally released by either Membran or an Italian Label...

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:19 pm 
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Lance wrote:
The late Keith Hardwick of EMI accomplished the EMI remasters himself and he was a no-nonsense kind of guy who would not tamper with sound to the detriment of the originals. I am not sure what people are hearing in their EMI sets that they find offensive or objectionable, although the discs themselves could be problematical copies for production reasons.


I did not know that Keith Hardwick did the EMI remasters. Still, many, many fans of Schnabel who have bought several re-releases of the same recordings (and I am proudly in that group) share the conclusion I stated above - that the sound is very dull and muddled in comparison to other releases. I know Lance is in that group too. Still, I find it hard to belive that there was no filtering to reduce background hiss/noise.

If you go to the Amazon reviews of the EMI set, you will see that others have expressed similar reservations.

I would go with the Naxos before the EMI.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:12 pm 
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Yes, either way, Naxos or the original EMI boxed set. They are, after all, 1930s recordings taken from 78-rpm masters so they aren't going to sound 21st-century digital no matter how you cut it. The Schnabel great art comes through nevertheless.
JackC wrote:
Lance wrote:
The late Keith Hardwick of EMI accomplished the EMI remasters himself and he was a no-nonsense kind of guy who would not tamper with sound to the detriment of the originals. I am not sure what people are hearing in their EMI sets that they find offensive or objectionable, although the discs themselves could be problematical copies for production reasons.


I did not know that Keith Hardwick did the EMI remasters. Still, many, many fans of Schnabel who have bought several re-releases of the same recordings (and I am proudly in that group) share the conclusion I stated above - that the sound is very dull and muddled in comparison to other releases. I know Lance is in that group too. Still, I find it hard to belive that there was no filtering to reduce background hiss/noise.

If you go to the Amazon reviews of the EMI set, you will see that others have expressed similar reservations.

I would go with the Naxos before the EMI.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:41 pm 
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Lance wrote:
Yes, either way, Naxos or the original EMI boxed set. They are, after all, 1930s recordings taken from 78-rpm masters so they aren't going to sound 21st-century digital no matter how you cut it. The Schnabel great art comes through nevertheless.
JackC wrote:
Lance wrote:
The late Keith Hardwick of EMI accomplished the EMI remasters himself and he was a no-nonsense kind of guy who would not tamper with sound to the detriment of the originals. I am not sure what people are hearing in their EMI sets that they find offensive or objectionable, although the discs themselves could be problematical copies for production reasons.


I did not know that Keith Hardwick did the EMI remasters. Still, many, many fans of Schnabel who have bought several re-releases of the same recordings (and I am proudly in that group) share the conclusion I stated above - that the sound is very dull and muddled in comparison to other releases. I know Lance is in that group too. Still, I find it hard to belive that there was no filtering to reduce background hiss/noise.

If you go to the Amazon reviews of the EMI set, you will see that others have expressed similar reservations.

I would go with the Naxos before the EMI.


What more could you ask for.....Lance and I have the same opinion about this issue. Go for it, with either EMI or Naxos. 8)

P.S. I will reiterate that collecting the 9 Naxos CDs will be quite a challenge, whereas the EMI is readiy available and on 8 CDs. Go for the EMI, before it disappears. 8)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:15 pm 
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JackC wrote:
The Naxos set does some filtering, so it is quieter, but it is done intelligently and the sounds is very full without beng dull.

The EMI set is an absolute disaster and is to be avoided at all costs. There is so much filtering you can hardly hear the playing. It sounds as if the pianio is buried in mud.


Exactly my experience too.
The EMI set has got a horrible sound.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:36 pm 
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premont wrote:
JackC wrote:
The Naxos set does some filtering, so it is quieter, but it is done intelligently and the sounds is very full without beng dull.

The EMI set is an absolute disaster and is to be avoided at all costs. There is so much filtering you can hardly hear the playing. It sounds as if the pianio is buried in mud.


Exactly my experience too.
The EMI set has got a horrible sound.



It really is not that bad, given its historical dates from the 1930's. I have heard far worse. 8)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:28 pm 
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stenka razin wrote:
premont wrote:
JackC wrote:
The Naxos set does some filtering, so it is quieter, but it is done intelligently and the sounds is very full without beng dull.

The EMI set is an absolute disaster and is to be avoided at all costs. There is so much filtering you can hardly hear the playing. It sounds as if the pianio is buried in mud.


Exactly my experience too.
The EMI set has got a horrible sound.



It really is not that bad, given its historical dates from the 1930's. I have heard far worse. 8)


But how do you explain, that the Naxos release is so very much better??


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:48 pm 
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It could be a certain "run" in the production that makes for some poor quality sets. My particular set was manufactured in the USA. Usually with EMI, the best product quality comes from Holland, Germany, England and Japan. But again, giving my piano ears to the Schnabel/EMI/Beethoven, I thought Schnabel's Bechstein piano sound came through very well and even A/B'd it with other LP editions. Just why the Naxos sounds better or perhaps less “noisy” is possible with filtering down the higher end somewhat though I know Obert-Thorn and Marston use incomparable expertise in their transfers.
premont wrote:
stenka razin wrote:
premont wrote:
JackC wrote:
The Naxos set does some filtering, so it is quieter, but it is done intelligently and the sounds is very full without beng dull.

The EMI set is an absolute disaster and is to be avoided at all costs. There is so much filtering you can hardly hear the playing. It sounds as if the pianio is buried in mud.


Exactly my experience too.
The EMI set has got a horrible sound.



It really is not that bad, given its historical dates from the 1930's. I have heard far worse. 8)


But how do you explain, that the Naxos release is so very much better??

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:04 am 
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Thank you to everyone who has responded so far. I have heard about about this debate over the EMI remasters - does anyone know if the ones released in the GROC 2CD set are any better than the earlier box set versions?

I have e-mailed Regis to see if they can give any information as to who did their remastering and if their set was released on another lable prior to their publishing it. I will let you know if I get a response...


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:45 am 
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Well, I don't know about the GROC 2-CD set. Does this set offer Artur Schnabel playing some Beethoven sonatas?

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The above is a fairly new (released April 2009) EMI 8-CD budget-priced "Icon" set [65064] of Schnabel recordings of various composers. I did not get this one because I already have all the material on other CDs. That set contains eleven (11) Beethoven sonatas. I don't know if they have been further remastered for this Icon edition. You may want to check this Icon series one out.

arthound wrote:
Thank you to everyone who has responded so far. I have heard about about this debate over the EMI remasters - does anyone know if the ones released in the GROC 2CD set are any better than the earlier box set versions?

I have e-mailed Regis to see if they can give any information as to who did their remastering and if their set was released on another lable prior to their publishing it. I will let you know if I get a response...

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:48 am 
For whatever it's worth, I slightly perfer the Naxos discs to the EMI box, but we get a lot of Naxos recording here that aren't readily available Stateside (my that seems strange!).


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:56 am 
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Indeed, no Naxos Historical can be put out for sale in the USA markets due to copyright laws. Apparently EMI made a big stink about it and Naxos withdrew selling them in the USA. We have to go offshore to get them, which is ridiculous because we still GET them! So, in the end, what has EMI gained? They are still available in England, Germany, France, and elsewhere throughout Europe and, of course, Australia. EMI wasn't necessarily making many of their recordings available again and often Naxos has done a superior job in their remastering. Of course, I am highly devoted to EMI and to Naxos for what they have given us.
Brendan wrote:
For whatever it's worth, I slightly perfer the Naxos discs to the EMI box, but we get a lot of Naxos recording here that aren't readily available Stateside (my that seems strange!).

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:09 am 
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Lance wrote:
It could be a certain "run" in the production that makes for some poor quality sets. My particular set was manufactured in the USA. Usually with EMI, the best product quality comes from Holland, Germany, England and Japan. But again, giving my piano ears to the Schnabel/EMI/Beethoven, I thought Schnabel's Bechstein piano sound came through very well and even A/B'd it with other LP editions. Just why the Naxos sounds better or perhaps less “noisy” is possible with filtering down the higher end somewhat though I know Obert-Thorn and Marston use incomparable expertise in their transfers.
premont wrote:
stenka razin wrote:
premont wrote:
JackC wrote:
The Naxos set does some filtering, so it is quieter, but it is done intelligently and the sounds is very full without beng dull.

The EMI set is an absolute disaster and is to be avoided at all costs. There is so much filtering you can hardly hear the playing. It sounds as if the pianio is buried in mud.


Exactly my experience too.
The EMI set has got a horrible sound.



It really is not that bad, given its historical dates from the 1930's. I have heard far worse. 8)


But how do you explain, that the Naxos release is so very much better??


I've heard the second half of Schnabel's cycle on EMI CDs and the transfers are not good. They all sounded strikingly alike, which leads me to believe they were processed to sound that way. Having heard a number of these performances on 78 RPM disc, I can attest that these recordings have warm sound, wide dynamic range and are not dull at the top end. The only problem with the 78s was their being pressed on British shellac, which seems to become noisier over time. It is generally recognized the Victor in the U.S. produced the best quality 78 RPM pressings in the early-to-mid 1930s, but Victor only issued the Hammerklavier from this cycle.

The EMI are credited as Hardwick transfers (and there is no reason why they shouldn't be since he re-transferred these performances for LP c. 1979), but he had retired from EMI when that set was first issued on CD so I do not believe he performed the CD mastering. They do not sound like Hardwick transfers, whose work was criticized by some collectors as being too bright.

I've heard some sound bites from the Arkadia set (now OP), and they have a warm, natural sound. I don't know if these are the same transfers offered on the Documents label, but if they were, I'd buy them. I wouldn't buy the EMI set.

Lance, you have the RCA sets on LP, don't you? These are the earliest transfers made. How do they sound when compared to the slightly later Angel/Seraphim transfers?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:30 am 
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Lance wrote:
The late Keith Hardwick of EMI accomplished the EMI remasters himself and he was a no-nonsense kind of guy who would not tamper with sound to the detriment of the originals. I am not sure what people are hearing in their EMI sets that they find offensive or objectionable, although the discs themselves could be problematical copies for production reasons.

On LP, I also have the original Angel-COLH deluxe boxed edition when first issued in the USA (a wonderful birthday gift from my other half!), also the Seraphim/USA boxed sets (which largely sound the same as the COLH edition), and the German Electrola “DMM” LP transfers, the latter of which I thought were outstanding. Other independent labels have also issued Schnabel's Beethoven sonatas in varying quality that I would tend to avoid.

Angel's Great Recordings of the Century/COLH reissues were pretty heavily filtered to eliminate any surface noise from the originals, so though they were taken from the metal masters in EMI's archives, some were disappointed. And I'm pretty sure the Seraphim reissue was indeed made from the COLH transfers, though possibly tweaked. So it was good that EMI didn't just reissue those transfers yet again but had Keith Hardwick make new ones.

Hardwick and Anthony Griffith did superb work with reissues of EMI 78s in the days before automated declicking and other time-saving hands-off expedients. The only fault I could find with some of the reissues - not necessarily by Griffith or Hardwick - was that when the side joins required an overlapping segue, the technician spliced them instead. This mars the Kreisler/Blech Beethoven and Brahms concertos as issued by Electrola in the '70s, and no doubt others as well. But the actual sound taken from the discs is outstanding.

The sound on the discs isn't necessarily the most inviting, as the recordings were made in the small studio at Abbey Road which had a very dry, almost clinical acoustic. so you hear hardly any room resonance, just the naked piano. If you hear any reverberation in a non-EMI transfer, then, it's been added by the technician, and if the tweaked sound comes across as more pleasing, it's not true to life.

Hardwick's transfers are used in the 1991 Réferences reissue, which is what I have and is still on the market. Listening again to op. 10/1, seems to me that the sound as such is as good as it's likely to get, without "improvements." Other transfers made from shellacs rather than the masters may well sound marginally different; they are, after all, twice removed from the masters (stampers made from the masters, pressings made with the stampers) and made of different material as well, not to mention the condition of each 78 rpm side used for the transfer. Presumably these include the Naxos and Regis sets, unless they licensed or pirated the Hardwick transfers. I've done no A/B comparisons and don't really see the point of it.

But sound quality isn't the only basis for choosing. The EMI set now lists at $85.98, and while it can be bought for less, Regis at $28 is an amazing bargain.

And what performances! This YouTube clip is a bit muffled compared with the EMI CDs, but even so, Schnabel's spontaneity and fire are irresistable.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:44 am 
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CharmNewton wrote:
I've heard some sound bites from the Arkadia set (now OP), and they have a warm, natural sound. I don't know if these are the same transfers offered on the Documents label, but if they were, I'd buy them. I wouldn't buy the EMI set.


The Document transfer as well is filtered too much resulting in a dark, lifeless sound, and furthermore the sound has got an unpleasant vibrating quality - so it is not recommended by me.

I wonder, if there are two different EMI transfers, an old one (the one I purchased maybe 15 years ago - English or German pressing -and parted with again), and a newer one with better sound quality. This might explain the huge difference in opinions about the EMI set.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:17 am 
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premont wrote:
I wonder, if there are two different EMI transfers, an old one (the one I purchased maybe 15 years ago - English or German pressing -and parted with again), and a newer one with better sound quality. This might explain the huge difference in opinions about the EMI set.

Nope, only one transfer was used in the two sets, Keith Hardwick's. But the old LPs were of course in superb analog sound, while the transfers had to be digitized for the CD set. And the EMI engineers could have fiddled with equalization etc. when making the CD masters. Not surprising, then, that the same transfer might not sound the same in the two formats.

P.S. After reading CharmNewton's post, I'll confirm that Hardwick is credited in the EMI References notes as the one who did its transfers. The COLH engineer(s) were unidentified. I have an idea that they may have been French, as many COLC and COLH reissues were clearly done in France, but that's just a guess.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:17 am 
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premont wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:
I've heard some sound bites from the Arkadia set (now OP), and they have a warm, natural sound. I don't know if these are the same transfers offered on the Documents label, but if they were, I'd buy them. I wouldn't buy the EMI set.


The Document transfer as well is filtered too much resulting in a dark, lifeless sound, and furthermore the sound has got an unpleasant vibrating quality - so it is not recommended by me.

I wonder, if there are two different EMI transfers, an old one (the one I purchased maybe 15 years ago - English or German pressing -and parted with again), and a newer one with better sound quality. This might explain the huge difference in opinions about the EMI set.


While a part of me suspects that what are listed as Hardwick transfers on the CD are really the old GROC transfers, it doesn't make sense that they would go through the trouble of digitizing these in favor of more recent and better work (although Hardwick's transfers were controversial when they were new 30 years ago--see some of the original Gramophone reviews). But EMI was doing a poor job of re-mastering some of their historic material--an example is the over-bright, brittle sound on the early Horowitz issue that includes the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 conducted by Abert Coates, where the 78s reveal full, wide-ranging sound. Even some of their magnificent early stereo recordings suffered from over-bright mastering. Perfectly good transfers get re-equalized into something else. RCA did the same thing to a number of Ward Marston transfers around the same time.

If Andrew Walter is still employed at EMI, they should let him have a go at the Schnabel Beethoven recordings. He has done some excellent work. Better yet, Ward Marston, who I don't believe has ever done a transfer of this material.

John


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:09 am 
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The Regis set appears to have been licensed from Nuova Era, Italy - and it was cleaned up using the CEDAR system. Has anyone heard the Nuova Era set?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:43 pm 
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arthound wrote:
The Regis set appears to have been licensed from Nuova Era, Italy - and it was cleaned up using the CEDAR system. Has anyone heard the Nuova Era set?

I found it preferable to EMI...

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:47 pm 
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Lance wrote:
I, too, have the EMI set taken from the original 78-pm discs. I see that this set, issued under the same catalogue number [63765, 8 CDs] is now available at a budget price. At one time, it was close to $90/USA for the set. I also have a few of the Obert-Thorn-Naxos-released CDs, which are very well done. I was not disturbed at all with the EMI set's sound since I felt they captured the quality of Schnabel's mellow-voiced Bechstein pianos quite faithfully. I also have the Dante 14-CD set [107-120, out-of-print], which includes Beethoven's five piano concertos. I thought this was also a faithful reproduction of the 78s (or possibly transfers from someone else's efforts - who knows?). The late Keith Hardwick of EMI accomplished the EMI remasters himself and he was a no-nonsense kind of guy who would not tamper with sound to the detriment of the originals. I am not sure what people are hearing in their EMI sets that they find offensive or objectionable, although the discs themselves could be problematical copies for production reasons.

On LP, I also have the original Angel-COLH deluxe boxed edition when first issued in the USA (a wonderful birthday gift from my other half!), also the Seraphim/USA boxed sets (which largely sound the same as the COLH edition), and the German Electrola “DMM” LP transfers, the latter of which I thought were outstanding. Other independent labels have also issued Schnabel's Beethoven sonatas in varying quality that I would tend to avoid.

In the end, my suggestion is to go for the original EMI boxed set, which is taken from original HMV masters OR go with the Naxos Historical releases as remastered by Mark Obert-Thorn. The Naxos, in this case, will now cost more than the original EMI set.
Lance,

I listened seriously to that early-60s Angel COLH set in college--the library's copy, that is. I always found it rather dry and thin-sounding; the 50s RCA reissue's still the one for me, as that label's historical transfers were state-of-the-art then, and still hold up today.

The Angel set had a few strange edits, like in Op. 109 in the last chord of the second movement being clipped prematurely amid the studio's reverb....the 78 rpm side apparently had the first part of the variations movement on there too!

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 4:45 pm 
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I have to admit, after I finished listening side by side to the 11 Naxos Historical CDs of the 32 Piano Sonatas and the Diabelli Variations and the other Variations and the Bagatelles, etc., I have concluded that Ward Botsford's Naxos CD pressing's are superior to the EMI 8 CD box set of these priceless historical recordings (excluding the Variations and Bagatelles, etc.), Naxos wins. I hope this helps our fellow CMGers.

By the way all 11 Naxos CDs are in print, but you will have to go to the UK by internet to definitely obtain all 11 CDs at a fair price. It is worth it. 8)

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:20 pm 
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stenka razin wrote:
I have to admit, after I finished listening side by side to the 11 Naxos Historical CDs of the 32 Piano Sonatas and the Diabelli Variations and the other Variations and the Bagatelles, etc., I have concluded that Ward Botsford's Naxos CD pressing's are superior to the EMI 8 CD box set of these priceless historical recordings (excluding the Variations and Bagatelles, etc.), Naxos wins. I hope this helps our fellow CMGers.

By the way all 11 Naxos CDs are in print, but you will have to go to the UK by internet to definitely obtain all 11 CDs at a fair price. It is worth it. 8)


They are easily obtained from MDT in the UK - http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/pages/sear ... 6752251543

But they were done by Mark Obert Thorn, not the person you listed.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:21 pm 
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arthound wrote:
The Regis set appears to have been licensed from Nuova Era, Italy - and it was cleaned up using the CEDAR system. Has anyone heard the Nuova Era set?


I heard a sample of it last night. I don't like the sound. The Naxos sounds the best to me.

EMI - As somone else said, sounds like it was recorded under water. Muffled, dead sound.

Pearl - Surface noise so loud that I got headaches after listening for an hour. The surface noise extends well beyond the actual frequency range of the recording, so it's puzzling why they would leave it in.

Naxos - The goldilocks choice! Mark Obert Thorn took the time and care to find the best 78s available and cleaned up the sound without harming the piano tone. The result is a listenable, revealing sound that I am incredibly grateful to own. In the liner notes he says that the problem of transferring from the original HMV shellac has led previous engineers down two paths:

"One way has been to use computerized processing to keep the noise at a minimum [EMI], another is to go to the opposite extreme, filtering minimally and even apparently boosting the upper midrange frequencies, in an attempt to add a percussive brilliance to the piano tone. [clearly he is talking about the Pearl transfers here] Although this produced a clearer result than the first method, many listeners were put off by the relentless onslaught of surface noise that this approach to filtering and equalization exacerbated. For the current transfers, I have tried to strike a balance between the two positions. In order to start with the best quietest source material, multiple copies of British, French and American pressings were assembled, and I have chosen the best sides from each. Computerized declicking (although not denoising) has been employed not only to remove clicks and pops, but also to reduce the surface crackle to a minimum without harming the upper frequencies. My approach to filtering has been to stop at the point at which more than just surface hiss was being affected; and my equalization has aimed for a warm, full piano tone which I believe is more representative of the the original recordings. Finally, I have linked the movements of each of the sonatas by retaining the surface noise on the original discs. [I thought this was a brilliant idea] With recordings of a basically higher noise level such as the present ones, I feel that once the listener has become acclimated to the surface hiss. much of it can be mentally screened out. It is counterproductive to be reminded of it at the start of each new movement, as it happens in those editions [Pearl] in which movements are faded in and out."

- Mark Obert Thorn

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:04 pm 
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gperkins151 wrote:
stenka razin wrote:
I have to admit, after I finished listening side by side to the 11 Naxos Historical CDs of the 32 Piano Sonatas and the Diabelli Variations and the other Variations and the Bagatelles, etc., I have concluded that Ward Botsford's Naxos CD pressing's are superior to the EMI 8 CD box set of these priceless historical recordings (excluding the Variations and Bagatelles, etc.), Naxos wins. I hope this helps our fellow CMGers.

By the way all 11 Naxos CDs are in print, but you will have to go to the UK by internet to definitely obtain all 11 CDs at a fair price. It is worth it. 8)


They are easily obtained from MDT in the UK - http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/pages/sear ... 6752251543

But they were done by Mark Obert Thorn, not the person you listed.


Let's give a rousing cheer for Mark Obert-Thorn. He deserves it. Thank you for giving credit where credit due, mate. 8)

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:47 pm 
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I have the original EMI boxed set of CDs, which sold retail for around $90/USD. It is now offered (same catalogue number) for a fraction of the original price. Frankly, I did not find the EMI transfers all that bad nor unlistenable. I could ascertain it was a German Bechstein piano and had a clear sound without being strident and could also ascertain that it was the typical Schnabel piano sound from EMI during that period of 78-rpm electrical recording. I also have a few of the Obert-Thorn transfers on CD on the Naxos label and those are outstanding. Were I to acquire a new set, I would go with the Obert-Thorn transfers on Naxos, not only for the Beethoven 32 but for the Bach and other recordings. I have the Beethoven five piano concertos w/Sargent/LPO/LSO and Brahms' two piano concertos; those are probably the best-sounding and most realistic of any incarnation these performances ever had despite poor shellac. Pearl's historical recording transfers have always been on the noisy side regardless of who was performing/singing/conducting, etc. Still, sometimes theirs were the only way you could hear some things.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:11 pm 
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Lance wrote:
I have the original EMI boxed set of CDs, which sold retail for around $90/USD. It is now offered (same catalogue number) for a fraction of the original price. Frankly, I did not find the EMI transfers all that bad nor unlistenable. I could ascertain it was a German Bechstein piano and had a clear sound without being strident and could also ascertain that it was the typical Schnabel piano sound from EMI during that period of 78-rpm electrical recording.


I could live with them, provided theirs were the only transfer. The performance can still be heard, but the piano tone is clearly compromised.

Quote:
I also have a few of the Obert-Thorn transfers on CD on the Naxos label and those are outstanding. Were I to acquire a new set, I would go with the Obert-Thorn transfers on Naxos, not only for the Beethoven 32 but for the Bach and other recordings. I have the Beethoven five piano concertos w/Sargent/LPO/LSO and Brahms' two piano concertos; those are probably the best-sounding and most realistic of any incarnation these performances ever had despite poor shellac.


Absolutely!

Quote:
Pearl's historical recording transfers have always been on the noisy side regardless of who was performing/singing/conducting, etc. Still, sometimes theirs were the only way you could hear some things.


Very good point. Besides, they didn't always leave in all the noise. It depended on the release and the person doing the transfers.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:51 pm 
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Quote:
Pearl's historical recording transfers have always been on the noisy side regardless of who was performing/singing/conducting, etc. Still, sometimes theirs were the only way you could hear some things.


Very good point. Besides, they didn't always leave in all the noise. It depended on the release and the person doing the transfers.[/quote]

I believe the Pearl transfers were done by Seth Winner, whose work is usually excellent if unheralded.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:02 pm 
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CharmNewton wrote:

I believe the Pearl transfers were done by Seth Winner, whose work is usually excellent if unheralded.

John


Yes, they were done by Winner. I have been impressed with much of his work. For some reason, with this Schnabel project, he decided to leave more noise in than he did on many other transfers of 78s for CD.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:14 am 
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gperkins151 wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:

I believe the Pearl transfers were done by Seth Winner, whose work is usually excellent if unheralded.

John


Yes, they were done by Winner. I have been impressed with much of his work. For some reason, with this Schnabel project, he decided to leave more noise in than he did on many other transfers of 78s for CD.


The 78s exist mainly in British pressings which tend to a have some crackle (since British pressings were on good shellac, some have blamed the damp climate for the added noise). I've heard a number of these sonatas from 78 RPM discs and found the piano had a full and well-rounded tone, something I didn't hear on the EMI CDs.

I've asked Lance to comment a couple of times on the RCA Victor LP transfers, as these may have originated from vinyl pressings of the 78 RPM masters and might combine fuller sound with quiet surfaces. It can be hard to find time to pull out old LPs, but comparing these transfers to more modern work might be instructive.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:18 am 
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Thanks to everyone for their thoughts. I decided to go for the Naxos remasterings as they seem to strike a good middle ground and I will keep my eye out for the Pearl set of 'name' sonatas as a comparison. I managed to pick up the first 7 volumes of the Naxos set for $40 incl. shipping from a seller in Turkey of all places. I was partly buying this set because of its historical importance but have been surprised by how much I have enjoyed his interpretations - he often plays with just the right amount of 'roughness' that seems to suit Beethoven. I look forward to exploring this set often!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:04 pm 
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With the help of a few online buddies, I have assembled a collection of samples from 5 different transfers of Schnabel''s Beethoven Sonatas. They are:

1. Naxos
2. Pearl
3. EMI
4. Dante
5. Nuovo Era

Here's a link to the samples, which are the first minute or so of the central movement of the Moonlight Sonata. They are all in full WAV format.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:42 am 
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The Document label have all 10 discs availble for 8 Euros (you read right) on jpc.de. Is that a straight tipoff from the EMI masterings, a shoddy transfer from the original shellac discs or whatever? Anybody know?

Here's the link, with some sound samples:

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Ludwig-van-Beethoven-Klaviersonaten-Nr-1-32/hnum/8703778


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:49 am 
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The Document label have all 10 discs availble for 8 Euros (you read right) on jpc.de. Is that a straight ripoff from the EMI masterings, a shoddy transfer from the original shellac discs or whatever? Anybody know?

Here's the link, with some sound samples:

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Ludwig-van-Beethoven-Klaviersonaten-Nr-1-32/hnum/8703778


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:33 am 
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erato wrote:
The Document label have all 10 discs availble for 8 Euros (you read right) on jpc.de. Is that a straight tipoff from the EMI masterings, a shoddy transfer from the original shellac discs or whatever? Anybody know?

Here's the link, with some sound samples:

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Ludwig-van-Beethoven-Klaviersonaten-Nr-1-32/hnum/8703778


Sounds a lot like the EMI mastering to me.

George

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:14 pm 
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gperkins151 wrote:
With the help of a few online buddies, I have assembled a collection of samples from 5 different transfers of Schnabel''s Beethoven Sonatas. They are:

1. Naxos
2. Pearl
3. EMI
4. Dante
5. Nuovo Era

Here's a link to the samples, which are the first minute or so of the central movement of the Moonlight Sonata. They are all in full WAV format.


Thanks for this link George. Is it possible to play the samples online or do they need to be saved first? What is your favourite remastering?

By the way if you have the time to post any more of your comparitive studies of Richter recordings I for one would be very interested in reading them.

Best,
Justin


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:40 pm 
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arthound wrote:

Thanks for this link George. Is it possible to play the samples online or do they need to be saved first? What is your favourite remastering?


They need to be downloaded first, then you can play them with Windows Media Player, itunes, pretty much any computer program that plays music.

Then Naxos is my favorite. You can buy them all here - http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/pages/home/default.asp

Quote:
By the way if you have the time to post any more of your comparitive studies of Richter recordings I for one would be very interested in reading them.

Best,
Justin


I don't have anything planned as of yet. If I do anything more, I'll post them here.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:35 am 
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gperkins151 wrote:
erato wrote:
The Document label have all 10 discs availble for 8 Euros (you read right) on jpc.de. Is that a straight tipoff from the EMI masterings, a shoddy transfer from the original shellac discs or whatever? Anybody know?

Here's the link, with some sound samples:

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Ludwig-van-Beethoven-Klaviersonaten-Nr-1-32/hnum/8703778


Sounds a lot like the EMI mastering to me.

George




I used to own these Documents transfers, until I parted with them. They are much worse (filtered and woolen in sound) than the EMI transfers - believe it or not. I also parted with the EMI transfers and acquired eventually the Naxos transfers, which I find fully satisfying.


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