The Gramophone, December, 1929
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF RECORDING
AND SOME TRIBULATIONS
By STANLEY CHAPPLE
WHEN I became Musical Director for the Vocalion Company I found that my work brought me into contact with all the many and diverse forms of music which were reco:rded in those days. This was some five years ago, not perhaps a very long time, but certainly a long t ime as regards the gramophone, for i t was in this period that the gramophone suddenly shot up from a lusty youngster to a gTown man. .
i t was recorded, a nd how exhausting to the soloist (then fifty-three) was the t iring and inevitable prel iminary rehearsing, I can only sigh and wish that electrical recording had come just a l i t t le sooner. In fact the t ime taken over that one concerto would nowadays have yielded at least half-a-dozen important works. As i t was, the perfection of modern methods came just too late to record Sapellnikoff at his finest. That is a matter of great regret.
My activities even included conducting l ight popular tunes. In those days dance music was not the special featUl"e i t has now become, and there were no such things as, for example, " Mike Johnson and his Band." My work was certainly varied enough. One day I would be conducting a symphony orchestra, the very next day I might have to accompany some great favoUl"ite of the JIalls; then would follow a session at the piano accompanying li eder, and then next day would come the doubtful pleasure of doing the same thing wi th decaying Victorian ballads. •
All this brought me into intimate touch with well-known artists, some of whom one was proud to have met, while others proved merely disappointing. Someof them l iked the atmosphere of the recording studio and some were
Incidentally, when Sapellnikoff was visiting his family in Odessa in 1916 he was caught by the revolution, with the result that h e was unable to escape from Russia until the summer of 1922.
Before I assumed the post of Musical Director I occupied the position of accompanist to the Vocalion Company. Ten years ago I had the unique experience (in this capacity) of playing the Bach double concerto with Sammons and Tertis, the latter, of course, having arranged the second violin part for the viola. His consummate playing really seemed to make his transit ion improve the original score, except in the second movement, in which one missed the wonderful effect of Bach's pattern weaving for two violins.
Sammons never seemed in the slightest degree almost petrified by the sight of the recording trumpet.
I have some cherished memories of Sapellnikoff, with whom I had the distinction of recording the Tchaikovsky concerto, the work which Sapellnikoff first introduced to London at a Royal Philharmonic Concert under the baton of the composer. His reading of this concerto (which, in fact, he often played with Tchaikovsky) may definitely be said to be authoritative. The concerto was Sapellnikoff's first and la st important gramophone recording. When I think of the conditions under which perturbed at playing in front of that awful bogey, the recording horn, which has frightened artis~s all over the world far more than their audiences ever have.
One of the finest pieces of recording ever achieved wa s the result of a lucky seizing of a chance opportunity. During the waits in the studio, whilst the double concerto was being recorded, Sammons and Tertis started to play the great Handel Pass acaglia. They pla yed from memory, and I am sure in a spirit of fun and bravado, to see how far '
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