1970 – BERNSTEIN’s VERDI REQUIEM – ST.PAUL’S CONCERT..and 50 years later – a recovered stereo mix!
PART ONE OF TWO
By DAVID TAYLOR
In February 1970 I’d only been with London Weekend TV for a few months when we broadcast a classical concert that affected me more than any other I had experienced. This was Leonard Bernstein conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in the Verdi Requiem in St.Paul’s Cathedral.
As a young sound assistant, this was an amazing experience that taught me how exciting classical music recording could be. The sound of a major orchestra at both ‘full throttle’ and ‘hushed reverence’ in the setting of St.Paul’s, stirred me very strongly. The Verdi Requiem came across to me as a mix of very dramatic liturgical choir and orchestra and Italian Opera…all to a Catholic Latin text of course. I’d never heard anything like it at that time, not really knowing any Verdi well at all.
BERNSTEIN COMES TO EUROPE LEAVING A POLITICAL PROBLEM BEHIND
Bernstein had recently dropped himself into a political storm that caused him and his wife an inordinate amount of grief just prior to coming to London. A renown ‘liberal’, Felicia Bernstein had organised drinks and canapes in their New York flat in support of the recently imprisoned ‘Twenty-one Black Panther’s’ in an effort to raise funds for their legal defence. About 90 people attended including some of the Black Panther’s leaders and wifes, completely filling the flat that evening. Leonard ended up discussing the merits of the Black Panther’s philosophy, mainly with Donald Cox the ‘Field-Marshall’ for the Panthers. The press published the details extensively and it led to considerable outrage in the New York Jewish community, because the Panther’s had an Anti-Zionist stance. Bernstein then suffered picketing where ever he went and even the FBI’s draconian head J.Edgar Hoover became involved, sending anonymous letters to the attendees after the event.
BERNSTEIN’S ‘INSANE SCHEDULE’
Trying to put this behind him, Bernstein got stuck into a gruelling European Tour that would take him to London, Paris, Rome, Tel Aviv and Vienna. He came to London on the 18th February for the Verdi Requiem concerts and recording with the LSO.
“It’s really an insane schedule but what I need is blessed overwork. It gives me the lift I most need and I need it now.” 
First off was an concert at the Royal Albert Hall, immediately followed by three days of recording the work at the hall for CBS, with the televised St.Paul’s concert sandwiched between them.
The planned tenor soloist, Franco Corelli became ill and Bernstein hunted for a replacement as recalled by the New York Times:
“TALE OF 3 TENORS AND A CONDUCTOR”
By John M. Lee Special Correspondent to The New York Times
LONDON, Feb. 23 — Three tenors in three days is a bit much — even for Leonard Bernstein. But that is what the conductor has faced in rehearsals, a public performance and then a recording of the Verdi Requiem here. He arrived in England last week to rehearse the London Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra’s chorus and four soloists for a sold‐out performance at the 5,600‐seat Royal Albert Hall last night. A recording for C.B.S. Records would follow and then a videotaped performance in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The announced soloists were Martina Arroyo, soprano; Josephine Veasey, mezzo‐soprano; Franco Corelli, tenor, and Ruggero Raimondi, bass. Just before the performance last night it was announced that Mr. Corelli was, as they say in music, “indisposed.” But behind this delicate term lay a hectic tale. During the exhaustive rehearsals, Mr. Corelli was, by his own admission, not singing well. He was overworked, he was tired, he was unhappy, and he developed a throat infection.
A frantic call went out for a replacement for the concert, the recording and the telecast. Present at the rehearsal was a representative of the Norman McCann agency in London who immediately proposed a client known to Mr. Bernstein, Placido Domingo, a Mexican tenor, who sings with the Metropolitan Opera and who was appearing with the Hamburg State Opera. Mr. Bernstein agreed, Mr. Domingo was reached on Saturday night, and he agreed to the recording and telecast. In the meantime, the search was pressed for someone who could rehearse Saturday night and Sunday morning for the Sunday night concert. A 30‐year‐old Welsh tenor, Robert Tear, was proposed. He had sung the requiem only twice before, he was unknown to Mr. Bernstein, but he was accepted at the last minute for his Musicianship.
This morning, the London critics, in generally enthusiastic reviews, applauded Mr. Tear as “unfailingly stylish” and as “singing with the utmost expression without the usual Italian resort to the lachrymose.”
LWT GOES INTO ‘CO-PRODUCTION’
I’m going to detail the CBS recording sessions for their ‘quadraphonic disc’ of Bernstein’s Verdi Requiem done at The Albert Hall, in my next part, so let’s now look at the London Weekend programme.
On the suggestion of his agent, Bernstein had recently set up Amberson Productions, a company to make videotapes and films of some of his concert performances and also documentaries, as Bernstein had already shown himself to be a talented performer in front of the cameras in a series of educational music programmes on US television. This decision of Bernstein’s was very forward looking, as ‘music videos’ of any type were still unknown, there being only the brand new ‘Teldec video discs’ as a possible way of releasing them, with only an 8 minute running time.
The Verdi Requiem in London became the first venture of the new company when the new Executive Producer, Schuyler Chapin negotiated a deal with London Weekend TV to record a performance in St.Paul’s, to be shown on UK TV and also become a ‘music video’.
The TV Director was to be Humphrey Burton, who had moved to LWT from the BBC, where he had been Head of Music and Arts. Humphrey had worked with Bernstein before at the BBC, and this programme was the first in a very long list of collaborations he was to have making films and videos for Bernstein’s new company.
It was probably because of the involvement of the ‘video’ and Amberson, that the LWT Sound Supervisor, John Coombs organised a Scully 8-Track recorder when mixing the concert. CBS was also recording the work on 8-Track for disc with the same performers at the Royal Albert Hall, where Bob Auger was mixing with CBS Producer Thomas Z. Shepard. The CBS sessions were on the 23rd, 24th and 26th February and sandwiched in on the 25th was the LWT St.Paul’s evening recording.
MIKING THE ORCHESTRA
Planning the miking of an orchestra in an unknown acoustic presents special difficulties when the acoustic is as enormous as St.Paul’s and knowing that anything you do with slung mics will be impossible to alter later if you wanted to make late changes. John Coombs was therefore calling on the experience he had in recording orchestras and trying to relate that to the problems that St.Paul’s would give him, with it’s oft quoted eight second reverb time. John had worked as an assistant to Sir John Barbirolli at sometime in his past and he was LWT’s most suitable mixer for this job.
John rigged a ‘stereo pair’ of mics over and slightly behind the conductors head. These were AKG C-12A’s, which we used a lot at that time at LWT, but being a Nuvisor valve mic, it needed a separate power supply. We had a bracket made to hold the pair of C-12A mics which rather strangely was an inverted ‘Y’ shape. It had threaded ends to take the mic mounts and held them about 6 inches (15 cms) apart, at an angle which allowed ‘crossing’ the mics without the capsules blocking each other.
My colleague Charles Fearnley and I were given the task of rigging the mics ‘up in the gods’. Charles remembers:
“I was detailed to sling a mic (or two?) from the centre of the dome, and was taken up into the void between inner and outer domes by a St Pauls staff member. We stood on the huge cast iron grid in the centre of the inner dome watching the ants below, and duly slung the mics – very impressive.”
I likewise have a memory of the effort of rigging those mics and vividly remember the Whispering Gallery during the rig and of later being on a lighting tower on the left side looking down from above and watching and hearing the orchestra during the rehearsals.
An AKG C-12A. The special cable that linked it to the power supply, came out of the back of that ‘cornet shaped’ holder that matched the mic body and the threaded stand fitting was at the bottom. Beside it are the front and back views of the N12A power supply.
Here’s the slung C-12A stereo pair hanging low and slightly behind Bernstein and also visible in the above photo a couple of the mics we rigged for the choir. They also were C-12A’s, but this time two of them were mounted high up on ‘Cathedral Stands’. These purpose made stands languished in the Sound Store for much of the year, only to be brought out for events like this that required a particularly tall stand…well like in Cathedral’s of course!
John, wary I don’t doubt of blocking the camera shots with ‘ugly mic stands’, only used two of these really tall stands, positioned extreme left and right for altos and sopranos plus two mics on normal mic stands lower down angled inwards for the men.
Another mic visible in the programme was a single older AKG C-12, positioned to reinforce the orchestral double-basses. There were also two AKG C-28’s, one on each side, just in front of the podium for the soloists.
50 YEARS LATER…LET’S TAKE A QUICK LOOK AT THE PICTURES and SOUND
Back in 1970 we never expected to see our programmes again after the transmission with possibly occasionally one repeat. So it’s a surprise that some of these programmes from 50 years ago or so…..can be viewed again at all. Sometimes this is ‘online’, perhaps a grotty YouTube video from a VHS copy. This Verdi Requiem however is still available on a DVD from the US company ‘Kultur’. It’s obviously from the American NTSC ‘copy’ and here’s an example of the quality.
The Verdi Requiem has a ‘terrifying’ dynamic range and this is an excerpt of the loudest…the beginning of the Dies Irae…the ‘Day Of wrath and doom impeding’ indeed…..
VIDEO EXCERPT ONE:
Bernstein there showing his ‘usual restraint’ when conducting I see! I was very taken with this strong ’emotional style’ I remember back at this time….he certainly knew how to bring out every bit of feeling from the choir and players and he always showed his genuine, complete emotional connection to the music as he conducted.
We do however hear during the Requiem one aspect of his conducting that must have frustrated his producers and engineers; it’s ‘Lenny’s Leap’, captured here during rehearsals in this well timed shot by the LWT staff photographer, Dick Dawson and hopefully no one will mind if I reproduce this image, taken from Humphrey Burton’s book….
THE 1970 PICTURES
Let’s get back to the looking into the ‘technical bits’ and firstly, let’s look at the pictures.
Shot in February 1970, as I’ve said, when LWT had been using colour cameras for only a very short while. The first night of ITV colour transmissions being 15th November 1969, although we’d been recording in colour for some months before that. For instance the drama ‘Manhunt’ was being shot with an OB unit on location with the EMI 2001’s from at least mid-summer of 1969.
LWT eventually bought many of the EMI 2001 cameras, which became much loved by the cameramen. Here I’m only able to identify a TV camera twice, one at the right side of the orchestra on a small tracking ‘dolly’, which is an EMI 2001, but another camera sometimes sneaks into shot as it’s ‘in the orchestra’ shooting the conductor, and I’m surprised to see that it’s a Philips.
LWT didn’t use Philips cameras but the facilities company Intertel had been recently been purchased by LWT and was equipped with Philips PC80/LDK3’s cameras.
The camera crew, headed by Ken Manning, were all LWT guys and also consisted of Ian Stanley, Trevor Hampton, Chris Brown, Mike Startup and Peter Douglas.
Some of the pictures from the cameras here have some ‘colour fringing’, a particular problem on the early TV colour cameras, but overall the 1970 images aren’t ‘too’ awful. I just find the ‘blacks’ lack any detail and you do soon get used to these 1970 pictures. The cameras did require a lot of light to get good pictures at this time though…and when, after lighting the choir early in the performance some of the big lights get turned off, the racket from all those ’10K’s’ switching off is very unfortunate!
The American Theatre Designer Oliver Smith was credited as one of the two Amberson producers and Humphrey Burton explains in his book:
“Oliver Smith supervised the lighting for the telecast and designed the royal blue dais upon which Bernstein and the soloists stood.”
However it was LWT Lighting Director Teddy Shankster who would have to work out where and how to get those big lights up and his ‘sparks’ had a tough job getting them plus all the associated mains distribution and control boxes into ‘The Gods’ at St.Paul’s to provide lighting for the ceiling fresco’s and for the orchestra, soloists and choir.
THE 1970 SOUND
As I’ve said John Coombs main mics were the C-12A stereo pair, plus mics on the choir and double basses. The four soloists were so close to the ‘main pair’ that the 2 C-28’s spot mics in front probably weren’t needed.
It would be his concern over the enormous 8 second reverb time that forced John to keep the main pair so low. His basic sound layout works well though for his mono TV mix, but there is a moment during an oboe solo that he has to hunt to get the instrument up. Not really easy to have put any mics on the woodwinds as they are so thinly strung out with some of the strings in two rows directly up against them.
Here’s my sketch of the overall orchestral plan….
HOW WAS SUCH AN IMPORTANT CONCERT BEING MIXED?
What of the ‘sound mixing’? Alas, there being no suitable ‘sound mobile’ in February 1970, John Coombs was forced to set up his gear in ‘a furniture van’! As Charles Fearnley remembered:
“The “mobile” was a slightly grubby furniture van – 3 tonne or so in size – with interior bare aluminium walls, and no acoustic treatment of any kind . Even at that stage I wondered how it would sound inside… I remember a mixer, but no idea what, and have no recall of tape machines. My understanding of the technology was somewhat “limited” at that stage – but I do recall being impressed by the provision of an electric kettle!”
All is revealed though thanks to ex-LWT Sound Supervisor Paul Faraday, as here’s a photo of Leo Sturgess mixing a Film and TV awards show at the Palladium, just 2 weeks later on the 8th March 1970, in the very same ‘grubby furniture van’.
That’s an appalling set-up for a sound mixing a major TV recording! It’s no wonder then that LWT ‘dry-hired’ sound mobiles, like the Rolling Stones truck, once they came available.
As can be seen from the photo of the ‘furniture van’, John’s ‘main desk’ was made up of two Marconi B1103’s of 1965 vintage, one of the early germanium transistor sound desks. Very simple with channels 1 to 6 routed to Group A and 7 to 10 able to go to both Group A or B. Channels 11 and 12 only go to Group B. The two group faders go to the single Mono output.
John would have to be creative to produce the separate outputs for his 8 Track though, as there were no individual outputs from the 2 Groups, just a ‘Clean Feed’ from either one. He would have to employ the single ‘PA’ output and the ‘Foldback’ output I guess. Perhaps also the two ‘joined desks’ helped there.
There were just two equalisers that could be plugged to a pair of channels, with 60Hz, 3KHz and 10KHz fixed frequencies. The gain control on each mic channel had a 30dB range and the Line inputs were padded down, going into the mic amps…very old style that. 
John Coombs however routed his stereo pair C-12A mics through this much more modern 6 channel Neve desk, fitted with the great Neve 1066 mic and eq modules. It was in fact a ‘grams mixer’ that had recently arrived in LWT’s ‘STU’, for ‘tape prep’ work. No ‘pan-pots’ but it enabled John to provide a stereo feed to 2 tracks of the Scully 8-Track and still route the output to his strictly mono Marconi desk. It turned out to be a very good decision as we shall see.
THE SCULLY 1″ 8-TRACK
The Scully 8-Track had probably come on hire from Dag Fellner, the US companies UK dealer. It was was possibly equipped with a set of Dolby A301 noise reduction units as well, but these were whooping 6U high devices and so they took up a fair amount of space. LWT at that time had no multitrack recorders and 8 Track machines must have been quite hard to come by that February as there were only two mobile recording units that you could hire, the Pye Records unit that was a ‘de-rig’, which was probably still away doing ‘The Who-Live at Leeds’ (14th and 15th February) and Bob Auger’s Granada Recordings, also a ‘de-rig’ and that was already recording this Bernstein Verdi Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall on adjacent days to the concert.
LWT did buy a Scully 8 -Track though, to equip a new ‘music studio’ and I was therefore able to play the St.Paul’s 8-Track tape a few months later and John had put the C-12A stereo pair on 2 tracks and I remember 2 tracks being for soloists and 2 for Choir. There was no clever ‘pulse track’ for re-syncing later though…we hadn’t thought of that yet! Alas I also can’t remember if the tapes were ‘Dolbied’ or not, the new Dolby A361 units were released in September 1970, so he would have had to have at least 4 of the big Dolby A301 units as they had two channels each.
LWT only had one set of 1″ master audio tapes, so some form of tape changeover must have been planned into the concert as the 8-Track could only record for 30 minutes on a reel at 15ips. The same problem possibly existed for the 2″ QUAD VTR machine if there was only one VTR recording, although we possibly could have been using Intertel’s VT truck on site, which had 2 QUAD’s on board.
HUMPHREY BURTON’S MEMORIES
I was pleased to see that Humphrey Burton wrote about this concert in his Bernstein biography.
“There was only time for a brief sound check but the performance was an inspiring one, marred only momentarily by the awesome boom of the cathedral chimes striking ten as the soprano Martina Arroya sang the “Libera Me”. Bernstein was his customary drained self when it was all over. “I’d give anything for for a cigarette,” he groaned as he planned the retakes.”
He continued “Retakes – impossible for a “live” telecast – are essential for a video. It’s an agonizing procedure in which the mistakes of the performance – large and small – are redone with such precision that the viewer and listener are unable to detect the editing splices in the final product. Perfection came slowly; the fifteen-minute overtime segments mounted up. The amateur chorus dwindled by half it’s size as singers had to slip off to catch the last train home. But the end result was handsome enough to confirm Amberson’s decision to invest in music videos. “Much of the splendor of a very special occasion was conveyed” reported the Times after the Good Friday telecast.”
 The LWT broadcast was delayed a month and was transmitted on Good Friday, March 27th.
Humphrey Burton did a really good job of directing the six cameras at his disposal in this concert I think, capturing the important visual moments in close-ups and yet still allowing plenty of wider shots which are still so important, particularly in these truly grand surroundings
THE KULTUR DVD SOUND…STEREO?
We have to be very thankful that the US company Kultur wanted to preserve some of Bernstein’s video concerts after all these years. Released way back in 1992, Kultur’s DVD ‘Bernstein In London-Verdi Requiem’ is still available (try Amazon) and is an NTSC ‘Region 1’ (US) DVD so to play it in the UK, do check out your DVD player for ‘all region’ compatibility.
What of that sound from the DVD that you heard in the first video clip? Billed on the DVD as ‘Dolby 2.0’, which is a generic label for lossy compressed AC3 (Dolby) encoded audio tracks. It does not necessarily mean ‘stereo’ and in fact that’s the case here….it’s not stereo. It sounds like it might be stereo when you first start listening but as there is no discernible ‘left and right’ information, you realise that it is just ‘smeary mono’, that occupies about a half of the space between your loudspeakers.
However it’s certainly not a disaster and there’s not much hiss audible either. However it’s a pity they didn’t ‘mend’ the strange leaps in audience atmos audible on the DVD that arrive so badly between the movements.
So this is John’s TV mono mix, probably after being copied during transfer from the UK 625 PAL tape to an NTSC 525 line dub for Amberson.
It’s probably gone through the process of recording on original 2″QUAD machine, then playing off from another deck and re-recording during the VT editing, with I think some sound relaying by the VT editor and then copying to another 2″ QUAD for NTSC conversion.
Nobody has played off a 2″ QUAD machine for a longtime but they possibly could have done in 1993 for transfer to the DVD.
Analogue tape ‘peak distortion’ was sort of par for the course back in the mid-60’s to early 70’s, as CD copies of Guilini’s EMI 1964 recording still prove. Woe betide the engineer who let the level get too high on the big peaks…and then had more tape copies made that increased the problem.
WHAT OF THE STEREO PAIR ON THE 8-TRACK?
LWT opened a multitrack sound studio with an 8-Track at the Wembley Studios very shortly after the Verdi Concert and I was the junior of three LWT engineer’s that ‘moved over’ to operate it. I remember that John used our new studio ‘Intersound’ to make a mixdown of all, or possibly just parts of his Verdi recording. He told me that “Recording the stereo pair on the multitrack had ‘saved the day” and I recall watching our wonderfully accomplished VT Editor, Tim Whiffin, use a modified 1/4″ Revox A77 to dub some of the programme back to the 2″ QUAD master. Tim was an electronic wizard, as well as a talented video tape editor and his ‘modified Revox’ was adapted to run off a 50Hz pulse track to maintain it’s stability, just like a Nagra does but it was using up one of the two audiotracks, so it was ‘mono’ only if used like that. Clever stuff though from the man who went on to build the Audio Kinetics QLock, a hugely successful tape machine synchroniser that we everyone ended up using for the next decade to dub our TV shows.
After sneaking John’s multitrack tapes out of the Library I played them on Intersound’s new Neve mixer …to discover some of the secrets of mixing Classical music….and to enjoy again the Verdi Requiem of course.
His ‘stereo pair’ was a direct feed to the 8-Track and had no manual compression applied at all. It was the full dynamic range of the concert. His other feeds were ‘post fader’ and he had applied some fader gain riding as he mixed to those. After all he was mixing very wide dynamic range music for a TV audience listening on domestic 1970 TV’s.
I luckily also copied the pair of ‘stereo mic’ tracks to a 1/4″ tape…so I could play at home and find out how well they covered an orchestra and choir…I would have loved a job mixing Classical Music you see!
That 1/4″ tape…well at 15ips there would be 3 of them, sat on a shelf at home until the days of owning an A77 Revox weren’t justified and by around 1983 I guess, I had a Sony F1 Digital Recorder, and the 1/4″ tapes got copied. Time passed and the Sony F1 became ‘old hat’ and the tapes got copied again…to a DAT machine. The tiny little DAT tape sat in a box, suitably labelled “Copy of John Coombs Verdi Requiem Stereo Pair 1969” (sic…it was 1970).
Realising that I wanted to write about this concert, I pulled out the DAT and as my last DAT machine was sold when my PostFade Sound post production suite closed, I couldn’t immediately play it and thought better of trying anyway as it hadn’t been played since perhaps 1993….or 4,5,6…who knows! I didn’t want to wreck the little tape…so went and found a man who knows about how to go about it…
‘AUDIO RESTORED’ TO THE RESCUE
Sound Engineer Graham Joiner runs Audio Restored  and he carefully examined my DAT and reported: “During my initial check of the Requiem DAT, it was clear that there were a few white specs on the reel at the very beginning of the tape close to the clear leader tape. I teased the tape apart with my fine brush and noticed a tear start to develop. As you can see from the attached photo, a sliver of tape came off but luckily is too near the start to be a problem. However, since this is unlikely to be the only place where a tear could initiate, I propose to manually unravel the tape tomorrow to ensure there are no more catches. “
I waited to hear the next report….
“Here is your transfer of ‘Requiem’. I’m relieved that I manually unravelled the tape before transfer, as I found at least 7 places where the tape was adhering to the reel and needed teasing off with a fine brush – any one of the sticking points would, without doubt have caused a tear.”
So thanks to Graham’s knowledge and care…we have a stereo recording of Bernstein’s St.Paul’s Verdi Requiem, probably unheard since 1970…which was very exciting…well to me at least!
But…on playing the DAT, alas I found it wasn’t very ‘stereo’. Well it was stereo…just not very wide. Hardly much better in width that the Kultur DVD’s ‘smeared mono’ really, however you could at least tell it has proper ‘left and right’ channels. I mentioned this poor stereo immediately to Graham as I started to see if I could sync it with the DVD sound to compare them. Graham sent back a ‘test’ he’d made using a bit of ‘stereo enhancing’ software and said ” I know it is not the purist of approaches, but it might give more satisfaction!”
WHY ISN’T THE STEREO WIDE ENOUGH THEN?
In fact this was a very sensible approach in this instance, as I had already realised that John Coombs ‘stereo pair’ was never going to actually give a decent stereo image…they were much too close.
His mics were hung close behind Leonard Bernstein on the podium and were low down as well. This would have been working for him in his mono TV mix as they gave great coverage of the soloists, a decent balance on the orchestra and he had his 4 choir mics to be able to ‘tickle in’ some more choir. Plus a mic on the Double Basses to add if required.
John though hadn’t set up any ‘stereo monotoring’ in that luxurious ‘furniture van’, so he never heard the ‘stereo’ until he got to the Intersound studio later.
I can see on the video that his C-12A’s are set to 90 degree angles. That was the way the BBC Radio guys set up a pair of ‘figure of eight’ mics as a stereo pair, as originally detailed by Blumlein of course ….but they would still have needed to be further back for full coverage because as you see in the plan above, the orchestra has a very wide layout. A couple of mono mics at the orchestra edges would really have helped as well.
John wasn’t likely to set them on ‘figure-of-eight’ anyway; lots of reverb in St.Pauls, he’d have them on ‘cardiod’. So to be honest they really needed widening to at least a 110 degree angle or even more, and then they still needed to be higher up or back. But as I said, that pair of C-12A’s, plus his other mics gave John a mix that worked for his mono TV balance.
WIDEN THE STEREO AND RE-SYNC IT TO THE PICTURES
In order to re-sync the stereo sound to the existing pictures I needed to use some ‘modern technology’ and in this case it was Steinberg’s Nuendo DAW, as alas my beloved Fairlight system went when my studio closed. I also needed Nuendo to widen that stereo and I finally settled onthe Waves S1 VST plugin, which I used ‘stretched’ to it’s widest. With a normal stereo recording that would have taken the image ‘out beyound the speaker edges’…but with this narrow image it just ‘makes it’ to the edges on the big percussion on the left and the brass on the right.
The problems of re-syncing are these
1: SPEED VARIATIONS:
To lock to an audio deck to video you needed a ‘syncing pulse’ ….which we didn’t have and the stereo pair was recorded onto a ‘wild’ running Scully 1″ 8-Track in Feb 1970. It was played off a different ‘wild’ Scully 8-Track in the Intersound Studio a few months later and recorded onto a ‘wild’ Scully 1/4″ stereo tape machine at Intersound.
It was then replayed off my own ‘wild’ Revox A77, in probably 1983, onto a Sony F1 Digital Recorder with an A+D 701 Processor (16bit, but it accurately phase aligning the stereo which the Sony F1 didn’t do) and I copied it to a DAT Digital machine.
So we’d had lots of ‘tape speed error’s’ from the analogue tape decks and those Scully’s had poor ‘mains locked’ speed stability anyway. The above combination turned out to be running fast and needed frequently differing corrections varying around the 99 % mark to get perfect sync with the video.
2: VIDEO EDITING ERRORS:
In these still fairly early days of 2″ QUAD VT editing there was no timecode. Although the editors weren’t cutting the tape with a razor blade anymore, and the edits were now being done ‘electronically’, it was a hit and miss technique.
It was a case of – choose your edit point, back off both the ‘Record VT’ and the ‘Playback VT’ by the required 10 secs pre-roll and rehearse ‘the join’, if it didn’t look right, adjust a little and try again. Then go and ‘do it’, hoping both decks were keeping to the same settings.
Now when syncing the stereo sound I found some edits were up to 4 or 5 frames (each frame 1/25th of a second) late or early.
Most of these edits would have been cutting to retakes, either for picture or musical reasons. I don’t know if Humphrey Burton had the luxury then of a separate VTR recording an ‘ISO camera’ feed that he could just drop into the existing soundtrack but I guess most edits were ‘re-takes’ with both new sound and pictures.
3: ALAS…NO RETAKES ON MY STEREO TRACK:
Which brings me to another difficulty in re-synching….I only copied the ‘Concert’, not any of the subsequent re-takes. So where a retake was now in the DVD pictures, I’m relaying the original concert sound back over it, but trying very hard to avoid any picture sync errors at all if I can.
Good to see that you can discern so few ‘lip-sync’ errors in my new version, just on a short section of Josephine Veasey in close-up. Bernstein and the soloists must have kept the tempo accurate, but then you needed to do that in any recording session of course or you couldn’t do music edits at all.
It’s amazing though what modern audio software let’s you do….but resyncing was still a labour of love!
FINALLY THEN, HERE’S SOME OF THE STEREO SOUND…..WITH THE PICTURES
I’ll go back to the Dies Irae, to compare with the earlier video clip and then I’ll continue playing on so we hear, and enjoy, all four soloists and the choir. Alas Humphrey Burton’s camera directions on talkback do become audible when it gets quiet. That’ll probably Camera 4, in the orchestra, turning his cans up after the Dies Irae had swamped his talkback! It was some while later before cameramen produced ‘ear defender cans’ at concerts.
You’ve got to love those ‘eye-brow’s’ of the bass Ruggiero Raimondi in his first solo in this movement! And that long dying St.Paul’s reverb is just so, so wonderful.
(Sorry by the way that the picture quality has had to drop a fraction to get this in.)
VIDEO EXCERPT TWO:
To me it’s been an amazing experience to have gone through.
50 years on and with some help of ‘modern software’, we can hear how it would….or could have sounded. Alas all the joys of analogue ‘peak distortion’ still being present of course; all those generations of …what was it …typically 2-3% tape distortion?
Plus a few miniscule digital errors that didn’t get masked that I can hear and a slight move of the stereo image, in one of Veasey’s solos. That must have been an analogue tape drop out somewhere.
NOW JUST GIVE ME THAT MASTER TAPE!
Somewhere then perhaps the original 8-Track master still resides? Did it get saved with the move of LWT to the South Bank, or the demise of LWT into Granada, or was it chucked into a skip well before then when it’s ‘shelf space’ was needed? Does Amberson have a copy perhaps in a vault somewhere?
I’d be pleased to do the re-syncing to picture of the stereo of this wonderful concert if I could get a ‘better copy’.
I’ve now go on and finished the complete matching to picture….just for myself of course! It’s great to hear the full dynamic range as well, as the stereo mic track’ wasn’t ‘tweaked’ at all during the recording.
THE TV CREDITS
Nice to see that the crew were credited….not common back in 1970.
PRODUCER – DIRECTOR:
Apart from Charles Fearnley and myself, if you know of any other crew members, however junior – I’ll start an additional listing! The PA…Vision Mixer perhaps?
In the meantime do go and get a copy of the Kultur video DVD1344 ‘Bernstein In London – Verdi Requiem’ if you want to see the whole of this great concert.
Note: I’m sorry to see that on the 16:9 monitor I use, it is cutting off some of the frame in the videos when I view ‘full screen’, so I’ll try and mend that by adjusting the videos sometime soon.
References and credits:
: From ‘Leonard Bernstein’ – Biography by Humphrey Burton, Faber and Faber 1994.
I’m very pleased to see that Humphrey is wring an autobiography, out next year though.
: For Graham Joiner’s Audio Restored website: https://www.audiorestored.com/
: Information on the Marconi B1103 from https://www.tvcameramuseum.org/
 The Broadcast Engineering Conservation Group are dedicated to preserving the history of broadcasting and have a great collection of ‘retired’ OB Scanners that they are rebuilding. The Marconi illustrated came from an ex-Yorkshire scanner.