As pre-recorded audio cassette tapes go, this one’s a real ‘looker’. It packages two violin concertos, the lead of which is performed in both cases by the legendary Yehudi Menuhin. On Side 1, there’s Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64. On Side 2, Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op.26. For Side 1, the Philharmonia Orchestra was conducted by Efrem Kurtz, and for Side 2, Walter Susskind conducted the same orchestra. The Mendelssohn concerto is 26 minutes 35 seconds long, and the Bruch is 23 minutes 58. Both seem to pass more quickly – particularly the Bruch.
I’m not a classical aficionado, so I can’t give an informed opinion on the music, except to say that it’s technically very, very spectacular indeed, dynamically powerful, and so perfectly executed that you daren’t even contemplate the amount of work and development which finally culminated in the performance. The original recording was made in 1959, and digitally remastered in 1987, by EMI in both cases. The sound quality of the music on this cassette is very high – especially given that it’s a 1950s recording. The chrome tape formulation maintains an impressive treble response, even when you use Dolby noise reduction. And with Dolby engaged, the hiss – often a real problem in soft passages on classical cassettes – is barely evident.
The prominent use of red in the cassette’s visual presentation works really well, and I particularly like the red case, which has the EMI logo indented into the rear. The red paper label has the EMI Studio branding, and the product code EG 7 69003 4. There’s even a bright red leader at both ends of the actual tape. Classical music enthusiasts will, I’m sure, find all that very shallow given the eminence of the tape’s contents, but I’m sure audio tape fans will understand my excitement about it.
EMI’s general advice makes interesting reading for those with a taste for the technical side of audio tapes. Let me conclude with a couple of excerpts…
“This high performance cassette derives from a digital master recording and is designed for use on all cassette replay equipment. The equalization control, where provided, should be set to Normal (120 microseconds).”
“This stereo tape gives mono reproduction when played on mono equipment. If playback equipment incorporates a DOLBY noise reduction circuit, switch on the circuit to gain the benefit of hiss reduction. On non-DOLBY equipment, quiet high frequency signals will sound brighter and clearer.”