I was very pleased to find this excellent example of a Deutsche Grammophon audio cassette tape recently. It’s a 1987 release featuring Schubert’s Quintet for Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass in A major (D.667 “The Trout”) on Side 1, and on Side 2, Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in F major (Op.24 “Spring). The Schubert is performed by Jorg Demus (piano) and the Schubert Quartett; the Beethoven by Carl Seemann (piano) and Wolfgang Schneiderhan (violin). Both sides are remastered from original recordings made in 1960, by Polydor International GmbH.
I must apologise for the lack of insight into the cultural side of this cassette. The combination of my lack of classical knowledge and all the sleeve notes being in Italian has persuaded me that in this instance, keeping my mouth shut is probably wise.
However, I must express that the recordings are absolutely stunning, and their distant year of origin is in no way evident from the quality of reproduction, which sounds almost current – if not better. A real sparkling brightness gives the recordings impressive definition, but there’s still a warm depth, and with Dolby engaged, the background noise is virtually non-existent.
The tape format is real chromium dioxide with the usual (for pre-records) 120 microsecond EQ, which provides some serious technical capacity with no hint of glitching or drop-outs. The cassette is marked up as Stereo, and upon playing it you do indeed detect a stereo feel (as does the cassette player’s LED meter). However, as far as I can establish, the original releases of these performances were in mono, so whether the stereo imaging is purely the result of after-processing during remastering I don’t know.
It’s probably not immediately apparent from the image, but the cassette does have a paper label on each side. In the late ’80s, it became quite the done thing for pre-recorded cassettes to have their contents printed straight onto the plastic casing, but the more expensive-looking option of a real label suits this artefact well – especially in black.
Despite the obvious orientation towards the Italian market, this cassette was bought in England (by my late mother) – very probably from a specialist dealer. It’s an object lesson in how a commercial audio cassette should perform. Flawless.