[f_minor] [f-minor]: From Kevin Bazzana

Jörgen Lundmark jorgen.lundmark at sundsvall.nu
Sun Jun 19 15:44:51 EDT 2011

Hello all,

Here's some elucidations and generally expert comments from Mr. Bazzana 
himself --

I read the recent comments on F-minor, and I thought I might be able to 
make some helpful comments on a couple of points:

= Yes, WHRA (which is based in Canada) is a “sub-label” of Music & Arts, 
and I also can’t find anything about it on the Music & Arts website. I 
think the reason is legal: M&A is based in the USA, and these Gould 
releases cannot legally be sold there—they rely on public-domain laws 
that make them legal in Canada (and almost everywhere else in the world) 
but not (yet) in the USA. The confusion is partly my own fault, since I 
constantly referred to them as “the new Music & Arts CDs”, because I 
have a long-standing relationship with M&A and its founder, and because 
that is who I was dealing with then the CDs were being put together. 
Anyway, fortunately the new GG CDs are being properly sold and promoted 
and reviewed as “WHRA” releases, and are shown on WHRA’s own website: 

= It is not exactly correct that “the Music and Arts live recordings 
were banned from further distribution by Sony”. In the early 1990s, when 
its own GG Edition was about to be released, Sony did send a 
cease-and-desist letter to M&A, wanting their Gould recordings 
discontinued, but actually the laws in question were on M&A’s side, as 
both parties well knew. (It had to do with what country M&A was 
registered in and things like that—their Gould CDs were legal, anyway.) 
It was a classic case of a big corporation threatening a small company, 
with the small company legally in the right but (quite understandably) 
reluctant to expend enormous financial resources fighting the matter in 
court. (M&A’s founder told me at the time that there had been such a 
case fought between a small label and a major label in Europe, over a 
similar matter, and the small label had decided to fight—and won. At the 
time, I was told that the matter had never really been tested in this 
way in an American court, since it inevitably involves an unequal 
big-company/small-company fight.) So M&A’s GG releases were not 
technically banned; they were “willingly” withdrawn, under a threat that 
was toothless but could only be fought at prohibitive expense. It was 
all done in a “friendly” manner—the head of M&A and the person 
representing Sony were old acquaintances—but the implicit threat was there.

= Incidentally, a few things in the WHRA box set did previously appear 
on M&A CDs (and other labels) in the 1980s/90s, including the Bach 
F-minor concerto and the Weber Konzerstück. But most of the items in the 
WHRA box are first releases. One item (Schoenberg’s Op. 11) was 
previously released by the CBC but appears here in a different source 
with much better sound quality (tape, as opposed to acetate).

= Also, it is not correct that I worry about acetates and other old 
recorded sources in the GG archives in Ottawa—in fact, these are 
precisely the sources I don’t worry about, since they are in the hands 
of skilled, reliable archivists. Since GG’s death, however, there has 
been another trove of recordings—CBS outtakes, live recordings, CBC 
recordings, private recs. from GG’s teens and early 20s, GG conducting 
in Hamilton, GG playing his own compositions, etc.—that were in GG’s 
possession at his death but were kept back by his estate and never made 
part of the Ottawa archive. (I know about them because, long ago, I 
received a copy of a survey of these recs. made on the estate’s behalf 
in 1988.) These recordings (a few of which I was able to pry loose and 
bring to the public at the 1999 conference in Toronto and subsequently 
on CBC Radio) were quite literally sitting in someone’s basement for at 
least 25 years—and quitely likely still are, presumably deteriorating 
all the while. I heard a few years ago that there was (finally) a plan 
to make them part of the Ottawa archive, where they would (finally) be 
properly archives, catalogued, preserved, duplicated, etc. But I don’t 
know if that has actually been done, or will be. We’re talking here 
about, for instance, about recordings of the teenage Gould practicing, 
horsing around, improvising, playing 4 hands with Guerrero, and playing 
Debussy, Mozart, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Scarlatti, and other un-Gouldian 
things—and many other unique treasures. The biographical and artistic 
significance of such things is incalculable—and yet, as far as I know 
they are soon to celebrate their 30th year of captivity in someone’s 
basement. Unbelievable.

= Finally, yes there will be a Gramophone review of the WHRA box (by Jed 
Distler), and I anticipate that it will get a good deal of press and 
sell well. I remember reading in The New Yorker a year or two ago that 
the boxed sets that the CBC released a while ago (The Young Maverick and 
The Radio Artist) sold unbelievably well, as did Sony’s State of 
Wonder/Serenity releases—even these were the umpteenth rereleases of 
familiar material. So even in a depressed classical-CD market, GG seems 
to sell noticeably well. I hope these new documents of his work in 
concert will get similar attention—they deserve it. They’re very revealing.

Cheers, KB

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