Recording of March 1977: Direct from Cleveland

Direct From Cleveland
Orchestral works by De Falla, Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz
The Cleveland Orchestra, Lorin Maazel (cond.)
Telarc 5020 DD1 (LP). Robert Woods, prod.; Jack Renner, sound eng.; Glenn Glancy, Michael Bishop, disc-cutting engs.

Potentially the best news for perfectionists in years is the announcement of the first stereophonic direct-to-disc recording (in the US, at least) of a major symphony orchestra. Advent records of Cleveland, in collaboration with Discwasher, Inc. of Columbia, MO put four complete and usable runsthrough onto two sets of lacquers. The program was a collection of potboilers—what Sir Thomas Beecham used to call "lollypops"—much of it musically rather trivial, but all ideally suited for demonstrating what a no-holds barred recording can do in terms of sonics: works with bass drum, percussion, deep double-bass material, rich string sonorities" and so on.

Dr. Bruce Maier of Discwasher told us on the telephone that the recording was not done with two crossed coincident cardioid microphones—a technique that has been proven to provide the maximum degree of realism from symphonic recordings—but had instead been multi-miked, as is the custom these days. He added, however, that the spot mikes had been used only for accenting, and not for spotlighting of individual instruments. The recording may thus sound more like a typical EMI mix than a domestic Columbia or RCA.

The disc should be released before this issue reaches you, and we'll know then how successful a job it was (footnote 1). Regardless of how it comes off, though, we cannot too strongly urge all of our readers to buy it, for if this one sells well enough, others will follow. And all of us will stand to benefit.—J. Gordon Holt

Footnote 1: Despite his promise, and his featuring the album cover on this issue's 4-color cover—Stereophile's first!—Gordon never did publish a full review of Direct from Cleveland. But from our own auditioning of this LP, it is a worthy choice for the March 1977 "Recording of the Month."—Ed.