Bruckner Archive acquires "infamous" test pressing

Bruckner Archive acquires "infamous" test pressing
LP No. 1, containing SIDE A
The Bruckner Archive has acquired a test pressing of one of US Philips Bruckner symphony recordings. Specifically, it is a test pressing of Philips PHM-500-131, the Symphony in D Minor "Die Nullte" with Bernard Haitink conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam.

This was one of the pressings that finally caused Philips in the Netherlands to stop domestic pressings for the US market and instituted an import program for their Holland-based pressings.

While Philips was known in Europe for its pristine pressings, the opposite was true in the United States. Philips sent tapes of its recordings to their US affiliate, Mercury Records. Mercury, in turn, made their own pressings, used a different catalog number and different cover artwork for the US market.

The problem was that the pressings were substandard and that only became more obvious with the US release of the Haitink Bruckner cycle. Bruckner's music is known for its long pauses followed by large tutti passages. The US pressings suffered from pre-echo, a semi-buzzing, semi-musical blub of sound that would be heard one revolution and sometimes even two revolutions before the music started.

The result was horrible and the outcry was loud and Phillips in the Netherlands finally paid attention and simply started to import their Dutch produced recordings with a big gold circular label that said, "Imported from Europe."

The test pressing comes one side each on two LPs. To date, I have not auditioned the disc for fear of the memories it will invoke.