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3rd&4thT
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9th March 2010
Old 9th March 2010
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Talking Delicious Early Stereo Session Story

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Performers/Scherchen-Gen.htm

Michael Meacock
wrote (March 13, 2003):
Jim Grayson [James Grayson, Westminster Records producer] told us when we had lunch with him in London - he stopped over on the way back from Vienna.

It seems Scherchen had this idea to record the B-minor Mass (BWV 232) with the orchestra, soloists and choir in a complete circle with him conducting from a podium in the center, and one single stereo mike hanging over his head. Great. It was all set up. Everyone in place. Then when it came to doing some trial takes, of course HS discovered that with everyone in a circle around him, he could only face half of them, the rest being behind his back. Oh. Things came to a standstill.

Then some bright technician got the idea of a revolving podium (yes really!) and managed to set it up. So HS conducted the whole of the Mass gently revolving on some kind of roundabout surrounded by choir, soloists and orch.

It's a great story in itself, but there were/are problems. Knowing the story, I can hear parts where HS thinks the tempo is a bit slow and tries to speed things up - he speeds the choir up then as his podium revolves to face the orch, they speed up too! We can hear it happening!

He was always one for innovation. In the days of mono he invented the frequency splitter. We had one. It split the sound into top and bass then fed into two speakers for early fake stereo. He was always very innovative at Beromunster too (early Art of Fugue for Decca), took a great interest in latest recording and mike techniques.

Cheers,
3rd&4thT