Welcome to the fall issue of Liner Notes Magazine. We’ve had the good fortune to enlist the artistry of Neale Osborne for the cover image of flutists William Kincaid and Marcel Moyse – please see our profile of him, as well as samples of his work on pages 41-42. Moreover, we are twice blessed in that the fascinating and eloquent article about Kincaid and Moyse is written by Thomas Wolf, who was a pupil of both men.
In 1967 the writer B.H. Haggin published his authoritative The Toscanini Musicians Knew and Jon Tolansky’s article “Sir Thomas Beecham ∙ A Souvenir” is a similarly inspired retrospective, capturing the great conductor at work from the vantage point of those who played under him.
Alex Steinweiss is a name known to most serious collectors, a man generally credited with being the “father of album cover art”. While his work has been well documented, other artists have been woefully forgotten. As it happens this quarter’s issue profiles a man who worked for Steinweiss at Remington, Curt John Witt. Though not as celebrated as Steinweiss, Witt’s contributions to the genre deserve renewed appreciation, particularly as his work adorned many small independents – e.g., Allegro, Cook, Royale, et al. – budget labels that were many listeners’ introduction to music.
This quarter we profile SOMM Recordings, one of the leading independent labels in England, with an ever growing list of amazing historical finds. Their recent series “Elgar in America” is proving particularly valuable, yielding Gregor Piatigorsky in the only extant recording of the composer’s Cello Concerto, among other extraordinary finds. No less interesting are the label’s other branches devoted to British music and young artists. SOMM’s founder, Siva Oke, is a veteran of the “Golden Age” of EMI and was also Managing Director of Unicorn-Kanchana before founding her own label.
In a related piece, we interview Lani Spahr – audio restoration engineer, music producer, annotator and oboist. Though he has re-mastered numerous important projects for Music & Arts (e.g., the Schneider Quartet’s legendary Haydn Society cycle), arguably his most extraordinary achievement to date is “Elgar Remastered” for SOMM, in which stereo reconstructions of original 1930s Elgar recordings have been very successfully realized. He tell this amazing story beginning on page 59.
Although the winter holidays are not yet upon us, the next issue will not appear until late January and so this quarter’s Divertimenti section contains two “retro” coloring pages harking back to the days of Tower Records, one decorated for Christmas and the other for Hanukkah. We wish all of you peace, prosperity, good health and good music. And all the best for 2023.
— Warm wishes, Joe