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4-track 45rpm 7" EP (black vinyl)
Packaged using the established mid-50s HMV bag design together with the legendary ‘celebrity red’ classical label, this limited edition Record Store Day UK exclusive is the first commercial Maria Callas 45rpm vinyl EP released by EMI since the mid 1960s, and the very first such release on this format from Angela Gheorghiu, ever.
The great diva of the last century joins the great diva of this century to record Bizet's Habanera in a special duet version. Callas recorded the Habanera twice, in 1961 and 1964. The earlier version was selected because it didn’t involve a choir, making the possibility of isolating the singer’s voice easier. The orchestral accompaniment was painstakingly stripped away using Cedar Retouch Technology – ‘like audio Photoshop’ explains recording engineer Jonathan Allen, who masterminded the project – leaving just Callas’s voice. The players of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (all wearing headphones with a click-track to give the tempo) then recorded a new accompaniment. Remarkably there were no problems of pitch, but there were difficulties with speed: Allen found that Callas’s recording changed tempi between edits, and the modern orchestra had to match it. Gheorghiu then performed to this accompaniment and finally the two singers were spliced in, sometimes in unison and sometimes apart. ‘We needed to create the illusion that Angela and Maria were in the same acoustic space,’ says Allen. ‘If it comes across as over-processed, it won’t work. Angela’s voice is incredibly rich in overtones, probably more so than Callas’s, so we had to reduce some of her sound – without degrading it – to match.’
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