Thursday, March 7, 2013

Columbia SAX 2524

SAX 2524

Mendelssohn: Italian Symphony, The Hebrides Overture; Weber: Oberon Overture

George Szell, conductor
The Cleveland Orchestra

Pressing:  ES1

Condition:  NM

BC1259 A-2E
BC1259 B-2

Performance:  10/10

Sound:  7/10


Another U.K. release of a U.S. Epic Stereorama album (BC 1259).  As I was alluding to in my post on SAX 5292, this is one of the Columbia SAX albums which must have used the same U.S. stampers used to press the Epic releases.  I've included a close-up of the stampers on the copy I own.  Note the BC 1259-2E, which is the same as the U.S. Epic release album number.  If you look along the deadwax though (not shown in picture), you will find a XXSB-55874-1K, crossed out.  I happen to also have the Epic album for comparison, and the stampers for that are XXSB-58774-1H, XXSB-58775-1C.  So I suspect that Columbia/EMI did not make their own stampers for the U.K. release and rather used U.S. stampers.  This would explain why the U.K. and U.S. releases sound pretty much EXACTLY THE SAME.  I could NOT detect any significant difference in sound quality and would thus propose that for some of the Szell Columbia/EMI releases, the U.K. pressings are, in fact, not superior to the U.S. pressings.  This makes a world of difference for some collectors, because the price difference between the two is astronomical.  Take, for example, this album.  A U.K. pressing will fetch $150-500 in excellent to near mint condition.  The U.S. pressing can be found for under $10.  Okay, perhaps the U.K. pressing has a cooler label and the cover is laminated, but seriously guys, who's looking?  If you're in it for the music, do yourself a favor, find the U.S. Epic release and save the money for different records.  The performances on this album are, as one might expect from Szell and the Clevelanders, fantastic.

1 comment:

  1. I expect Columbia SAX was under budget constraints by the time of the Szell issues (the end of Columbia as a classical label may have already been planned). The unbelievable Youngrok Lee Columbia discography shows that recording sessions really started to tail off starting in 1964 with very little new recording activity. Much of what was released was licensed from Epic. Any other label would have remastered from the tapes, but the SAX division seemed to be quite thrifty.