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<<  -- 2 --  Bill Newman    MIND MY HARPSICHORD!


So here was I, clutching the EMI transfer of English Harpsichord Music -- Clarke, Farnaby, Handel, Byrd, Purcell and Bull, released literally within a couple of months of its American CBS counterpart. With the widest of grins, he started to tell of horrifying experiences at Southampton Docks. 'I watched it being lowered by one of these Derrick cranes. I recognized it as mine from all the pink roses painted on the sides and lid' (who was he kidding?). 'Would it drop, or not? I started praying, as I have done on every other occasion.' For the experts, the specifications are Lower Manual -- 8 Leather (Peau de buffle), 8 quills, 4 quills, harp (buff stop) on both 8s: Upper Manual -- 8 quills. Manual coupler. It was massive, as I was soon to find out.

Left to right: Christopher Parker (engineer), Neville Marriner, Paul Myers (seated), Igor Kipnis (behind) and Bill Newman

Igor and Neville Marriner had an appointment to make recordings of J S Bach Concerti, BWV1052-1059 at the Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes, but that was a few months on, after which, by courtesy of Record Producer Paul Myers, I had been invited to leave EMI and join the classical staff of CBS Records at Theobald's Road, London. I was living with my first wife at Putney, so provided I could successfully negotiate two commons I was bound to find the location. The St Martin-in-the-Fields musicians, who then had a contract with Decca-Argo, were obliged to call themselves the London Strings. Colin Tilney played harpsichord continuo.

I arrived there by the time the recording van had unloaded the precious harpsichord outside the studio main doors at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Combined assistance was speedily required. 'Hey, Charlie -- slight problem. This 'ere object won't go in our so-called lift.' Igor was suitably undeterred. He had already related incidents of ships offloading precious cargo. That, and what was to follow, has been gleefully relayed round the record industry, and back again, by the Olympic's Studio Manager.

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Copyright © 15 March 2002 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK






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