What a difference these reissues are from those that came out shortly after the development of the first Sonic Solutions “No Noise” computer software. The combination of not-quite-ready-for-prime-time software and ham-handed audio engineers resulted in releases that were certainly No Noise but were also No Music. The life of the recordings was filtered out along with the noise. Now the restoration business is in an entirely new phase, and reissues on CD of recent years are often of startlingly good fidelity – even going back as far as the 1920s!
I haven’t sampled nearly as many as our reissue specialist Gary Lemco, but from those I have I would say the star-studded combo in this area is Michael Dutton of Dutton Laboratories and the software called CEDAR Cambridge. Pacific 231 – a path-breaking example of futurism in music – has long been one of my favorite Honegger works. I was curious to see how much of this unique musical impression of a steam locomotive would squeak thru from a 1930 recording on 78s. The answer is Quite a Lot in Michael Dutton’s restoration! Certainly better than the soundtrack on the 16mm film for which used the composition on its soundtrack. The other Honegger works are highly educational to hear in the hands of their composer. I was unfamiliar with the Cello Concerto – a lovely work recorded in 1943 in Paris – that would have been under the Nazi occupation. Jaubert was France’s Korngold, and his Ballade, recorded in 1934 is listenable but rather forgettable. Pierné was of a much more conservative bent than Honegger. His three-movement suite Ramuntcho was incidental music for a 1908 play.
– John Sunier