C1800. BRUNO WALTER Cond. NYPO: Symphony #5 in c-sharp (Mahler), recorded 10 Feb., 1947. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-1015. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“This renowned 1947 recording of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony has long been the sonic problem child in the Bruno Walter discography. It unfortunately was recorded just before Columbia pioneered the new LP technology in 1948, and was also recorded during a period in the 1940s when many of Columbia’s recordings were of sub-standard quality. To make matters worse, the original lacquer masters suffered serious abrasion in storage over the years. Consequently, LP issues and the earliest CD releases relied upon master tapes made early on from those masters, and sought to overcome the original sonic deficiencies by filtering the treble and pumping up the bass. The results were tolerable if somewhat unrefined, and could not turn an aural pig’s ear into a sonic silk purse….For this transfer, per its usual practice, St. Laurent Studio has turned back to an actual set of issued 78rpm discs. The label’s philosophy is akin to that of the Japanese Opus Kura label: no filtering is employed, in order to capture as vivid and full frequency a sound spectrum as possible. In the case of its issue a few years back of Walter’s 1945 recording of the Mahler Fourth, with an extremely rare 1941 NYP broadcast performance of Bloch’s ‘Evocations’ as a filler [C1317], an astonishing degree of immediacy was achieved, albeit with the presence of a considerable degree of accompanying shellac surface noise….If you are partial to the YSL/Opus Kura remastering approach, then this version will be your preferred choice.
I see that YSL has immediately followed this release with a transfer of Walter’s famed live 1936 DAS LIED VON DER ERDE, another sonic problem child but one without similar recent competition in remasterings, and so YSL may well steal a march there. As usual, the label provides tracks, timing, and photos but no notes.”
- James A. Altena, FANFARE
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011