Hall of Shame

We urge you  not to buy the product of   "labels" that undermine the precarious existence of the small independent record companies whose treasures (in many cases issued with the kind cooperation of the artists' families or students, and re-engineered at great cost) they have pillaged.

We ask all our friends to boycott various European "labels" featuring mainly (and in some cases exclusively) material shamelessly copied from CDs produced at considerable expense from original materials by Pearl, Biddulph, VAI, Tahra, APR, The Metropolitan Opera, The Chicago Symphony, The New York Philharmonic, and ourselves. These "labels", among them Iron Needle, Grammofono 2000, Lys, Dante, Arlecchino, Enterprise, Piano Library, Strings, etc., aggressively flood the world market with what are demonstrably copies of original productions by the above-named historical labels as well as by various Societies devoted to certain artists. The notorious activities of the copy-cats, and the damage they cause in terms of drastic losses in sales to the reputable historic labels, has been noted in various critical articles by Henry Fogel and Mortimer H. Frank in Fanfare magazine, on the internet and  in various statements by such well known industry figures as audio engineer Mark Obert-Thorn, and long-time Pearl Producer and now president of Arbiter Records Allen Evans. Critic and Reiner biographer Philip Hart has voiced similar complaints in a recent issue of ARSC Journal, and a full page exposé aimed primarily at Lys/Dante/Arlecchino appeared in the first issue of the Gramophone publication, International Piano Quarterly.

Commenting on this deplorable situation in the January/February 1999 issue of Fanfare, audio engineer Mark Obert-Thorn wrote in a letter to the editor:

" I would not be surprised if it [the Dante/Lys Moyse disc] had been taken from my Pearl release, as they have pilfered my transfers before. (For example, several tracks on their two-CD Frederick Stock/Chicago Symphony 'Pops Concert' set were clearly lifted from my two-CD Stock retrospective on Biddulph). Nor is Dante alone in this sort of activity. In your July/August issue (p.339), Leslie Gerber writes enthusiastically about a two-disc Stokowski/Philadelphia Wagner Ring Syntheses collection on Grammofono 2000, congratulating the Italian producer and engineers by name for the 'outstanding quality of the transfers.'   The only trouble is, the transfers were mine, taken from a virtually identically programmed Pearl two-CD set.

"This wholesale piracy is now so widespread that my transfer of the 1934 Stokowski/Philadelphia Beethoven Ninth on Music & Arts has been pirated by both Grammofono and Magic Talent (the latter of which has also appropriated my Toscanni/New York Philharmonic transfers from a Pearl three-CD set, and issued them on separate CDs priced at a fraction of the cost of the originals). Prospective purchasers who think these are a bargain should be aware that pirate labels generally put the original transfers through various computerized noise-reduction process with a crude and heavy hand, often adding artificial reverberation and fake stereo effects.

"The long-term downside of activities like this is that labels that take care in producing transfers of historical material are finding it increasingly difficult to bring out new releases. Recently, one of the firms I work for turned down my suggestions for doing more Stokowski/Philadelphia transfers, citing confusion among consumers regarding their releases and those from 'Italy and points east.' In a kind of Gresham's Law of transfers: Good reissues are being driven out by bad copies.  One wonders from whom the pirates will steal, once the labels they've plundered have been forced out of business."

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