5 Feb 2014

Arturo Toscanini / NBC SO - Shostakovich. Symphony 7 - 'Leningrad' - NBC Concert 1942

Dmitri Shostakovitch: 
Symphony no.7 in C major, op.60   "Leningrad" 
I: Allegretto  ~  II: Moderato (Poco allegretto)  ~  III: Adagio  ~  IV: Allegro non troppo
The Complete Broadcast     FLAC  Mega Download
The NBC Symphony Orchestra  conducted by  Arturo Toscanini 
Live Broadcast: 19 July 1942 - Studio 8-H, NBC Radio City Studios. New York.      
A FLAC file appeared on 'Symphonyshare' - from which this derives; previously there was a 256mp3.  The recording, off-air, is presumably studio-made as the concert runs without breaks - other than about a dozen 'gaps' (and overlaps) - which I have remedied. There was considerable Electrical Storm interference - together with a variety of clicks, etc.  The enormous amount of re-editing includes a slight re-equalisation.    
June 1942 Henry Wood Proms Concert (LPO/Sir Henry Wood) - "The Times" review >>>  


  1. Many thanks for this - I'd never heard it before. To listen is really to be a witness to history. What amazes me is that, given the circumstances of production, as a performance it sounds so secure.

    1. Hello Steven,
      If you can download the original file from 'Symphonyshare' you'll get an idea of the amount of editing done on this! (far more than on any of my LP transfers...).

      I only recall this as the Gramophone review, around 1969, of a 2LP 'Victrola' - and likely very uncomplimentary about the sound - so had never previously heard it, either..

      I've added some minor treble eq - the voices seem better - but the Symphony/recording can get raucous...the performance is very compelling - with interesting tone-colouring from many instrumentalists..

  2. Thank you a lot for sharing this, sounds great for been a live recording from 1942, don't surprise if someone issues with "major improvements" on some label :) Thank you again.

    1. Hello Pablo,
      I certainly wouldn't have bothered if the performance wasn't so good; but it might be 'interesting' to (pay to) hear the thunderstorm 'in stereo'..

      I've been buying LP's recently (instead of editing them) but have some Toscanini's on the 'to do' list for a long time: the Decca mastering of 'Manfred', especially.

  3. You're wonderful. I linked my post to this, where I have a defunct link to an older version of this recording. It is from when I posted some time ago. Please forgive the cheek. http://statework.blogspot.com/2009/02/1942-premiere-broadcast-of-shostakovich.html

    Thanks for the invaluable work safeguarding historical treasure.

    1. Hello Guillermo,
      I'm not sure if that 256mp3 file (which I noticed you mentioned, a week back, would be re-uploaded) is actually the same as the FLAC on SymphonyShare; ie copied from the GMG mp3 - your source, as the FLAC didn't give the impression that anyone had tried any serious editing..

      But I think this is a substantial improvement; especially without all those scary crackles and bangs..

  4. Great work all around! Thank you for posting this.

  5. A much appreciated effort. The sound shows great improvement over the "original" files.
    Thanks for sharing it!

    1. I'll have to start pinching other folks' transfers, and then advertise them as "stunning transformations"!

    2. Frank, I have finished DLing this and even though I have TWO different CD copies (the LP rip from the RCA Victor box of Toscanini b'casts released around 1967, and the BMG-RCA Gold Seal version) it's worthwhile, and I am very glad to be able to hear, for the first time, the entire program with Ben Grauer announcements. I believe that Mr. Grauer (whom I knew slightly!) had started as NBC Sym commentator in 1942, succeeding Gene Hamilton.

      Yes, Frank: your job is ENTIRELY credible and is probably very close to what I would have done--and I have by now restored to my taste, about 4-5 dozen of the complete AT-NBC broadcasts from 1937 to 1954, using as source material authentic disk to tape transfers by John Corbett and other RCA engineers, either obtained from other collectors, or from WRVR-FM rebroadcasts of c.1961-2. While the true idiot and tin eared buffoon in Florida grotesquely falsifies the sound, making it hollow and weak, and the commercial purveyor Andrew Rose uses modern frequency-matching (usually getting a rather peculiar super-sizzly high end and boomy low end, plus loss of low level detail thru too much NR) you, Frank, have done a COMPETENT job, with INTELLIGENT choice of processing intervention. I shall no doubt burn this to CDR with no changes--and that's something for ME (as I often tweak your LP transfers a bit).

      Do you know the broadcast of the Martucci Piano Concerto (No. 2) from 1946? It has a pianist who is very obscure, named "Glacco" (as Ben Grauer ID's him on the program) or "Glauco" (as he is known on the Net) D'Atilli. (D'Attili? D'Attilli? I cannot quite recall from memory!) This performance is quite exciting, and I think of all the versions I've heard AT does the finest job accentuating the lyricism of the piece (which can sound very empty/bombastic.) Horszowski did it again with AT in 1953, but must have had a sort of bad day; even in the first measure he makes a blunder. The old 1946 one is superior. If you have the actual broadcast tape transfer, I'd love to hear it as CLEANED UP BY YOU!

      Sincerely, with thanks -
      A Retired Professional Sound Engineer

  6. This is from Carnegie Hall, not Studio 8H. The edition released on a CD in the BMG / RCA Toscanini Collection has no noise--I believe I have read that the volume was revised and republished with some extra editing. I am fascinated by your description of "electrical storm interference" and a thunderclap; this, then, must have been off the radio and NOT the original NBC matrices, which sound (to my ear) very high fidelity and brilliant, virtually as quiet as a late mono era LP and with quite low distortion and superb clarity. As such the CD was just a little bit better than the previous RCA Victor initial premiere LP set release (I have both) and there is not a single trace of any of these noises in either. Nor were there any gaps.
    That being said, a somewhat more iteresting and idiomatic performance, also by the NBC Symphony, was done in the forties by Stokowsi, the matrices having been transferred to tape and, years later, edited by Ward Marston for a Pearl CD issue. I've heard both the "underground" tape, and Ward's version, and can say that while the sound isn't quite as crisp as the BMG/RCA (Seth Winner transfer) edition, the interpretation is rather more sophisticated and varied, with a bit less of the 'grim determination' of the Toscanini performance.

    1. Well - the announcer says it's the NBC Studio 8-H - just a few seconds into the opening of the complete concert.....

      I suggest you listen to the 'original' FLAC file from Symphonyshare, as the Electrical storm lasts virtually to the end (so this is via AM/medium-wave).
      The only mystery is who recorded it (you will also hear the various gaps; though there is no music actually missing) as it is supposedly from 'private discs' (GMG statement) - however, it would require 2 disc machines..hardly likely 'a home enthusiast'..

      An Amazon review refers to 'noises' on the CD - and a different 'source'..

    2. Yes, Frank: you are absolutely right, and I was absolutely wrong (I had erred in my database entry.) It IS Studio 8H. Sorry. As to the SymphonyShare upload: I'm not a member and have chosen not to be one, So I'm sorry--I cannot hear the A-B but I am sure you are describing it correctly and are accurately explaining what you did to it. I have actually never heard the RAW broadcast disk transfer; my experience is with the c.1967 US-RCA Victor LM boxed set containing the first official release (on three sides) and with the RCA-BMG Gold Seal transfer by Winner (which sounds fabulous to my ears/taste.)

      The RCA LM set isn't bad at all; I sold my LPs years ago but a friend sent me his rip. It is not quite as vivid as Winner's restoration in the Gold Seal Toscanini set, but quite listenable--and it does not have any objectionable disk or broadcast pickup noises, being produced (I'm guessing) from the same set of archival in-house 33.3 rpm acetates used nearly three decades later for the BMG-RCA Gold Seal transfer (or very similar ones.) The very top end of the LP is not quite as extended in F/R as the Gold Seal; but both have about the same overtone content if not actual balance--in other words, not off air pickup from AM radio but wideband sound captured at Rockefeller Center. That is, wideband for the time, which means a top end of maybe 9.5 kHz or so; the resonance point of the cutting head was probably at about 10k. This means we get actual REAL musical overtones and not the 5k audio cutoff of the American telephone long line distribution network.

      And, of course, there's less limiting -- the broadcast pickups are always thru not only what limiting MIGHT have been done at NBC in NY, but also any on the network lines AND the final radio station gear. Sometimes the pile-up of limiters results in a usable dynamic range of about 6 dB in these old AT broadcasts, if you are not going to the closest possible authentic pickup source in NY (including, sometimes, experimental FM transmissions at least after c.1941 or so.) This is at least one reason why the NBC-AT live material is so vaiable. Whenever the actual performance WAS approved by AT for release, that means that probably an authentic in-house copy exists. The DS 1st from the forties, in the Winner-Gold Seal restoration, is just *shockingly good* while the older performance from the late thirties -- which has only circulated from an off-air version with AM radio bandwidth -- is just muck in comparison!

      I have more to say in a related post, which I'll add.

      (Retired sound engineer)

  7. It seems incredibly weird and very amusing to know that Toscanini ever conducted this. I guess he was amused by it as well given his comment on it.

    As always an excellent transfer.

    1. I was attracted to this as the basic sound was 'OK' (not obviously 'noise-reduced' by some idiot!) and by the artistry of the Orchestra - which makes it interesting as a performance - in marked contrast to Berglund/Bournemouth SO, for example.
      The Mravinsky/Leningrad (late Soviet LP's c/w VC1-Oistrakh) appears almost totally lacking in bass; so that left just the late 70's Moscow/Kondrashin HMV/Melodiya for LP listening pleasure (not that I'd listen to this composition too frequently!).

  8. Following up on my previous remarks...

    Much has been made, by a certain fanatic, of the tone quality limitations and variations of these old broadcasts; this one tireless guy (who was from the NY area and moved to Florida) has asserted endlessly on R.M.C.R. that he has "fixed" or "remastered" the programs--and in virtually every case, his job consists of cutting a narrow slice out of the spectrum from about 850 Hz to 1100 Hz, by as much as a 20 dB reduction! He also messes with the low and high extremes, basing his decision on (apparently) how the things sound on an old pair of large Bozak speakers. He will take MARVELOUS stuff, put out on WRVR-FM in the early sixties, restored by John Corbett, and turn it into something grotesque that sound like it's playing under water! Then he proudly offers it as having been "fixed". Unfortunately, this clown's desecrations are now, pretty much, all you can get (free) off the net; somebody on YouTube has used these grotesque, faked desecrations for a large number of "videos" of rare broadcasts. This ideologue (horn mouthpiece designer--sheesh!) will not engage in any intelligent discussion of restoration, noise reduction, editing, or sound reprocessing techniques at all; he immediately resorts to ad hominem personal attacks, usually even if you ask him a question!

    Therefore, Frank: it's nice that you have done some Toscanini stuff on your blog, as a GREAT IMPROVEMENT AND TONIC, to what that clod has done to wreck the Maestro's recordings!

    Sincere thanks from me, at least!

    (Retired sound engineer)

  9. ...well, Stephen; I don't have the time to download other folks transfers: this being a rare exception (otherwise mostly the defunct German 334578 blogs splendid 78 transfers) and what I did to this was some treble enhancement (monitored on tiny Sony desktop speakers) - based on the voices - as those, even now, are far-better reproduced via radio (orchestral sound is intolerable, IMO).

    I'm no expert regarding Toscanini - though have lots of the 78/LP material; the HMV ALP series being from early RCA stampers, for good or bad...but don't have the non-RCA broadcast material... - also a few 'Abbedd's' that I'd 'reverse-engineered' - but those maybe were from Toscanini Society, etc, CD's?...Mr Powell has, anyway, 'vanished'..

    I had read there was a violent thunderstorm during this concert - and what I heard was identical to that on the Antonio Brosa Britten VC LP I transferred way back: ie, not lacquer crackle/rasps...so can only conclude it was 'AM, off-air' - at some point..

    'Strangely', the so-called reviewers are 'never aware' that AndySeptic Rose causes low-level information to vanish, by use of the de-click software....the added 'tizz' being there to disguise it... (he also uses BBC-type monitor speakers with deficient treble capabilities) and anyway frequently uses CD's for his illicit source - and so should be free of that (interestingly, a recent EMI Gieseking 'bootleg' was highly likely to be from CD - as there is a 2 second silence - where, by vastly increasing the volume (on Audacity), it was possible to hear the tape-spool rotating; not exactly likely to have found its way onto the LP)..

    I shudder to think what 'tweaking' you do to my LP transfers; although, having recently got a small pair of QUAD 77 11L for additional use in the QUAD ESL 57 system (as the panels don't like DVD sound) I did notice bass 'rumble', from the LP material, becomes apparent..though not otherwise heard on 2 more, larger, systems..and if I 'cut' ,under 50/60Hz (like Rose does), there might be Phase effects..and anyway, LP's always sound better without rumble/subsonic filtering..

    There is a Toscanini database @ http://arturotoscanini.net - 'The Collection' takes you to the data...

  10. Frank: (part one of two parts)

    I hope you are well recovered from your health infirmities.

    >>I'm no expert regarding Toscanini - though have lots of the 78/LP material; the HMV ALP series being from early RCA stampers, for good or bad...but don't have the non-RCA broadcast material... - also a few 'Abbedd's' that I'd 'reverse-engineered' - but those maybe were from Toscanini Society, etc, CD's?...Mr Powell has, anyway, 'vanished'..
    I am sorry to say that a good friend of mine, with the US Marine Band, who was an acquaintance of Jeff Powell/Abbedd, has told me that the fellow died last year, approximately; he was in his early fifties. During his last years he seems to have tried to sell off virtually all of his stuff via eBay.

    I say "sorry to say" as he and I shared an enormous interest in the NBC Symphony, Toscanini, and Ansermet. That was the extent of any commonality; he was obviously quite mentally disturbed and also had such an ideological approach to everything that it was darned near impossible to discuss ANY topic for whatever one said, he'd take off like a rocket. I used to post rather frequently on usenet about Toscanini performances, but found it absolutely impossible to do this because of his bizarre ranting.

    He was, I have to say, the SINGLE MOST INCOMPETENT FRAUDULENT 'ENGINEER' (in his own mind) that ever touched a hand to ANY sound recording, bar none. He wrecked EVERYTHING he tried to "fix" and I have yet to find one human being who preferred HIS work over competent engineering done by just about anyone.

    He was totally alienated from everybody after a few years of his pitiful attempts to post to usenet and organize Yahoo groups for Toscanini and Ansermet fanciers. Absolutely nothing could be done to deal with a single issue he was obsessive about. I have posted some further comments on my own blog, here:

    I wish not to disparage the dead but to express the PAIN that his behavior gave me, personally, over the years he tried to dominate the scene. And "dominate" is exactly the word--he did not believe that any difference of opinion, any slight tiny NUANCE of difference, meant that the other person was anything to him but an ENEMY. Shameful--but it was his social disorder and mental issues causing this, probably, rather than any real 'viciousness' at heart, I suspect.

    Now: as regards the blog post about Toscanini cited above: don't put a great deal of credence about my sonic work on the 96kbs mp3 file sample I've included. I did not have enough space on my server to put a several minute sample in lossless format, or even WAV. I tried to fit a 256 kbs file but ran out of space even for THAT one. So I had to compress the sample to 96 kbs, which causes a sort of fake "noise reduction" sound quality, dulling the soft parts as though they'd been run thru a filter! If you bother to read the whole exchange between an audio designer, you'll note that when I sent him a copy of the uncompressed WAV file, he was greatly relieved and had no complaints!

    Sad to say, the people who often upload old recordings do it in lossy form, thinking "nothing is lost anyway; the sound is poor." But, they do not realize that even the highest MP3 bit rate tends to colorize the sound--especially if they have the stupidity of uploading a STEREO file of an old mono recording.

    I have done sufficient testing of FLAC to convince me that, at least for 16 bit / 44.1 kHz material, it's fine. But, whether it's Apple or Windows or mp3 compression, old recordings are often severely compromized--especially the upper harmonics and any noise content. So, your using FLAC or even providing WAVs is most appreciated!

    Steve -- more in the next "installment"

  11. Frank: (part two of three)
    Now as to your other important comment:
    >I shudder to think what 'tweaking' you do to my LP transfers

    First: I don't give anything I do away to ANYBODY, in any manner; so I'm not reprocessing your excellent stuff and then bandying it about as having been improved by me!

    Second: here is the TOTAL extent of what I have EVER done to one of your uploads:

    a. Some of the very old Deccas have an irritating LF growl that apparently was caused by the half-speed mastering of the LP issues, which in effect "folds up" the original 25 HZ mains hum to a very audible 50 Hz. (That is, very expert historical investigators -- I won't give names but do the initials "MG" mean anything? -- have told me that.

    So, occasionally I find this growling (which I very well remember from MY old original LP copies!) a bit annoying, since I have a subwoofer in nearly every one of my systems. I have used a TEENY TINY bit of subtractive computer NR to cancel this out. It is a delicate process, as it can sometimes cause audible artifacts, such as LF "breathing", worse than hearing the steady humming. If this happens I will cut the frequency, narrowly, leaving the rest of the spectrum unchanged.

    b. I have calibrated my best system with an RTA and condenser mike; formerly, when I operated a recording studio I also used a proprietary custom preamp crafted by the late audiophile designer/expert Walter H. Palmer IV, and employed several commercial test records with my cartridges, "tuning" them with exact resistive loading to eliminate or suppress HF ringing and ripple--for a VERY flat, precise, top response. Usually, say, Shure cartridges, for example, had a hideous ringing at the top--it would impress laymen but play havoc if you were making a digital 16 bit / 44.1 transfer, causing audible problems as stuff up around 17-25 kHz would slip thru the recorder's LP filter and cause IM and anti-aliasing. So I was EXTREMELY careful about bandwidth control, being a professional audio and FM broadcast engineer and concerned with bandwidth.

    Thus, I have become incredibly sensitive to what I could call "out of band products" and HF IM components. Often, extreme highs will cause LF IM right down to the zero-crossing point, near DC. (Hard to believe, but it's true.) The worst case I've ever heard is the Ansermet LP -- LL such and such -- of Petrushka, from 1950. I had a mint copy, and the muted trumpet and winds had a terrible LF component near DC, well below 20 Hz and any actual musical tones, that produced an awful artifact and really unpleasant LF sound--rather as if one side of a push-pull amp stage had crossover distortion, or a weak valve.

    So, some of your Decca transfers also have this problem--it's in the records themselves. When I hear this effect, I do a VERY sharp LP filter at about 15.5 k, and another one as a sharp HP at about 18 to 20 Hz. This tends to reduce the effect below the point where it annoys me. I can indeed hear it off the actual records -- I had hundreds of Deccas! -- but it gets worse after digitizing to 16/44, which I think is actually inadequate for those disks! (At present, I do not have sound editing software to handle 24 bits and higher sampling rate, and am sort of stuck with 16/44.)

    ...more in third part


  12. Frank (part three of three)

    c. Very occasionally, I do not entirely agree with the original balance engineer's concept, or the mikes used--some of the oldest stuff tends to be a bit shrill, and -- for instance -- the Columbias that date from the late forties/early fifties, were often done with 44 ribbon mikes that tend to have a HUGE HF peak around 9 kHz. If, then, there is the slightest HF IM and harmonic distortion by the time you get the sound off one of those old vinyls, the sound seems to me to be a bit unnatural, painful, even "shrieky" (at worst) and really inferior to Decca (at best.) So, *sometimes* I'll re-EQ one of those old items.

    Again: not for anybody else--I don't share. Just for me, and it's really no different than taking the recording around the house and playing on a DIFFERENT speaker system.

    Steve W./8h haggis
    Author of "Waldee's Law"-- to wit, "No two engineers agree on anything".

    1. After various 'possible scenarios' were offered on RMCR, it was discovered he'd had a heart-attack (Facebook message year previous) - too rich diet?.
      I thought he was inherently decent - and I always regretted any unkind comments I'd see (or even make a few times) but he courted them - possibly deliberately.
      He wasn't particularly 'sophisticated', IMO - lack of basic knowledge (except 'those two'..).

      MP3 damages transient attack for one..hence never used it except, perforce, in 2008/9 posts - never would for 'Historical' reissue material - even if they've been 'compromised' beforehand.
      I did see a recent comment that FLAC reduces 'warmth' - something I noted years back - but had to assume it was the software - rather than the (apparently perfect) mathematics.

      I did receive 'PART 2', BTW..!! But to comment.

      I've used a Decca Gold for most of the Decca ACL monos - and there is a variable Hum (50Hz) problem - about <max ~10dB worse (compared to other 'MM') @ the outermost grooves due to circuit-noise seep-age from the Thorens 126/III front panel (previous was in a 124/II) - easily seen when the unit is switched-on....
      But I wasn't aware the monos were half-speed mastered (of course, later 50s transfers are going to ~30kHz - hence my later 24/96 files).
      As you mentioned, the very oldest Decca LXT transfers do have noticeable inherent Hum (Leak amplifiers...).

      Ansermet's Petrushka is on the main blog (original 1949 matrices/1959 ACL recut) 22 May 2013: only 16/44 - treble seemed restricted on the LXT.
      I've never bass/treble restricted Any LP files - 'closest approach to the original sound' mentality....though Decca obviously re-EQ'd their later mono transfers (too trebly - noted in that Petrushka post and elsewhere..)