Everest Records Returns in All its Glory

Over half a century after the creation of the prized Everest Records catalog, most of whose 78 classical titles were recorded between 1958 and 1961 on 35mm magnetic tape in three-channel stereo, 61 titles have now been remastered and released in multiple formats. In addition to physical CD and downloadable Mastered for iTunes versions, a still-expanding, luscious hi-res treasure trove of Everest titles may be downloaded from HDTracks's Everest Records pages. All HDTracks titles, remastered from the master tapes in 24/192, are available in both 24/192 and 24/96 versions.

Among the gems of the Everest catalog are the very first recording of Aaron Copland conducted of his own work, the Symphony No.3 that includes the spectacular "Fanfare for a Common Man"; Sir Adrian Boult's premiere recording of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Symphony No.9, made on the day the composer died and issued as a tribute; Sir Malcolm Arnold conducting his own works; pianist Jorge Bolet performing Chopin; Ernst von Dohnanyi playing his own piano music; Leopold Stokowski's versions of Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini and Hamlet; Eugene Goosens' prized disc of ballet suites from Antill's Corroboree and Ginastera's Panambi; and Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting Tchaikovsky's Symphony No.5. Some of these titles are in the latest batch of Everest releases, and are due to arrive at HDTracks in the not too distant future.

HDTracks' David Chesky, responding to email shortly after returning from a production of one of his operas in Poland, says, "I like the pairing of Villa-Lobos' Little Train of Caipira with Ginastera's ballet suites a lot. In truth, I find all of the Everests to be wonderful. Bert Whyte [Everest producer and engineer, who, together with label co-founder Harry Belock, decided to record on 35mm film rather than ½" magnetic tape because they considered 35mm sonically superior] was laying the foundation for all audiophiles to follow."

Lutz Rippe, a classically trained clarinetist who has restored and remastered the titles for the master tapes' owner, Countdown Media in Hamburg (a subsidiary of BMG Rights Management), told Stereophile that he began working on the project in 2009. It took a few months to become familiar with the tapes and how to perform post-processing before the first releases, most of Beethoven's nine Symphonies performed by the London Symphony Orchestra under Josef Krips, could see the light of day.

"Many of the tapes are quite deteriorated or have suffered from vinegar syndrome, which is a common problem for 35mm tapes that have not been stored optimally," he explained. "The tapes contain acetic acid, and over time, the acetic acid precipitates and the tapes' components fall apart. The effect is that the tape shrinks, and the sides curl a bit. Thus, you may have problems with wow and flutter on the recording, which are time-consuming to fix."

Countdown Media's Albrecht MB-51 conversion machine is equipped with a special laser shrinkage detector that was specifically designed to handle tapes that suffer from vinegar syndrome. Instead of using a sprocket wheel for playback, which on shrunken tapes can result in damage and lead to occasional skips that cause the tape to run fast, the machine uses a laser to detect the sprocket holes in the tapes and play them back at the desired speed. In addition, a special replay head increases the pressure of the tape against the head to reduce wow and flutter effects.

Rippe reports that there's no particular reason why the current 61 titles were remastered before the remaining batch sees the light of the day. Remastering is a time-consuming process, and must be accomplished while working on a host of other projects, one of which includes re-releasing the Vox catalog, which is rich with early recordings by Alfred Brendel.

"Everything that is published and released has its special story," says Rippe. "My honest opinion is that the vast majority of recordings sound very good, and are absolutely worth listening to. If you were to see how torn the masters sometimes are, you'd be amazed at the sound that comes out of them."

He also notes that about 15 of the Everest titles, including Tchaikovsky's Fifth, were originally transferred in 24/192 by Bernie Grundman Mastering for reissue by Classic Records some time back. "I did some additional restoration work on those transfers," Rippe says. "They were excellent in general, but some of them suffered from wow and flutter in certain places. Now that our specialized software has repaired those problems, we've ended up with great remasterings that mate perfectly with the other titles we're remastered in Hamburg."

Doctor Fine's picture

I had three out of the four pictured  (no Scottish Dances, alas) when I was a child and built my first tube gear using a trusty soldering iron and some very used inexpensive Altec15 inch monitors in home made cabs with Radio Shack electrostatic add-on tweeters. 

To say that these would bring back memories is the understatement of the year.  Back then I was the most geeked out pre-adolescent audiophile in the land and had much in common with a certain 30 something engineer neighbor who was astonished at my passion.  He had multicell Altecs himself.

Fast forward 50 years and I had been working diligently to find the absolute maximum potential in 44.1 CD format as it is still ubiquitous however these hi-rez downloads may just push me into the computer camp as they would be such a treasure to own yet once more in a format we could not have imagined in those earliest of days.

What a hobby!  50 years of treasured experiences and it STILL like a first kiss.  By the way it was pretty cool to be listening to early West Coast Jazz and Symphonic works during the time right AFTER 50s Doo Wop and BEFORE the Beatles.

This stuff was what I loved to listen too and obviously it has never worn off...  Even if I DO like darn near everything from Caruso up to the early 70s.  After that, not so much.

DH's picture

I have a couple of the previously released remasters from this catalog (Classic records, Grundman) - e.g., Conerto for Orchestra - Bartok, with Stokowski and the HSO.

Sounds fantastic. So these will probably sound even a bit better.

beatlephantom's picture

Does anyone know how to decode the 3 part stereo within these releases?