6 March 2016

Am adding more and more to my Everest discography – you open a door, think you’re entering for a short visit to a small room, and it turns out to be an infinite parallel universe.

In fact, I started compiling an LP discography of the label Concert Disc. Concert Disc was originally, in the late 1950s, the label of the Fine Arts Quartet of Chicago (they also publihed lots of recordings by the New York Woodwind Quintet) but it soon passed under the control of Everest – Everest took over Concert Disc’s distribution even before it was acquired by Bernie Solomon – and at some point became an affiliate label of Everest, and eventually many of Concert Disc’s recordings were reissued under the Everest label. That’s why the Fine Arts Quartet’s Beethoven cycle was published on CD in the famed series of Omega reissues from the mid 1990s, which was the starting point and focus of my discography, and while browsing around to complete the discography, I saw that more from the Concert Disc/Everest catalog had been digitilized.

So I was trying to establish when exactly Everest had asserted more control over Concert Disc than just a distribution agreement (haven’t found the answer to that yet), and while doing that I found a lot of old archives from The Billboard magazine that enabled me to sketch a more precise history of the early days of Everest – and in the process correct some inaccuracies in the datings that have crept in all the public accounts that I’ve read (no, though he was a CPA, Bernie Solomon wasn’t Everest’s and Harry Belock’s accountant, no, the sale of Everest to Bernie Solomon didn’t happen in 1960 or mid-1961, but very precisely on 20 February 1962….).

I’m not a friend of technological progress for the sake of it – I hate everything after Windows 7 and Word 1995 (or is it 2003?), and I still have an old cellphone from the early 2000s and am very happy with it, it can’t even receive MMSs and its calendar stopped on 31 December 2014, but it probably can’t be tracked by the NSA either. But I’ve got to say that the Internet has revolutionized research, and made possible to find things that you would never even have had the fantasy of looking for in the pre-Internet era. And it’s not just that things like complete collections of The Billboard or High Fidelity have been uploaded and are consultable gratis (even going to libraries I wouldn’t have found those sources in the pre-Internet era, as I don’t live in the US), it’s that computers and character-recognition make it possible to spot precise cue-words in those sources. So instead of spending hours on end leafing through every page of every issue of the Billboard in search of the relevant information, I just do a Google search on, like, “Billboard Solomon Everest”, and a lot shows up. I don’t know that it’s everything, there are probably gaps and failures in that indexing (I’ve experienced that with The Gramophone’s online archive), but it’s already amazing enough. I have many stories about what Google has made possible – but I’ll recount those when the topics become relevant.

The downside of this – if it is truly a downside – is that one ends up spending a lot of hours on Internet research. Now, the same research in pre-Internet era would not have taken hours, but centuries – which means that no one would have embarked in it. So in the end, I spend more hours researching on those matters than I would have in the pre-Internet era, simply because it is now possible to bring those hours of research to fruition, when it would have been so hopeless before that I would have spent zero time on it and the research would not have been done.

With all that, there’s not much time left for actually listening to music, but I was able to casually hear Max Bruch’s chamber music on cpo – sounded very beautiful, but I listened only as background music, and need to return more seriously to it – and am in the process of listening, more attentively, to Mario Pilati’s orchestral music on Marco Polo, my follow-up on this composer after my recent enthusiastic discovery of him. Hope to publish that review soon.

Comments are welcome