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Analog, Again

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Last night ...

Album: Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Opus 11
Artist: Arthur (Artur) Rubinstein & New Symphony Orchestra of London [appears to be a 1961 performance; re-issued in 1999]

This was my first listen to an album recovered from floodwaters. Following record-breaking torrential, sustained rainfall in our community, we happened to look in at a neighbor, a 92-year-old widow whose steep hillside house took on six feet of water and a good deal of mud. When we arrived, some of her relatives and helpers, equipped with waders and rubber gloves, were tossing damaged goods into a couple of large dumpsters. I noticed that the detritus and rubble seemed to include some vinyl LPs. Now that lady was once a well-known civic leader, serving on the board of the local symphony and still sought after as a public speaker, so I reckoned that her music collection just might be a cut above the average. She insisted that it was all going to the dump but I could have whatever I wanted if I acted quickly. So, enlisting my son's help, we identified perhaps 150 albums that seemed interesting and possibly salvageable, mostly stuff from the 30s to the 70s, including some Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman 78s as well as lots of classical standards. Later on, my daughter and I set up an assembly-line process where we started an initial cleaning, followed by a Spin-Clean session.

Some turned out to be in pretty rugged condition, nearly all the jackets and covers and inserts were regrettably destroyed (although I may have rescued a booklet with snippets of score from Toscanini's Nine Beethoven Symphonies), some didn't look that bad, and many have not undergone more than preliminary cleaning yet. I am sure these things are worth nada as collectibles, but I want to listen to as many as possible; perhaps I will find something for which I will want to seek out replacements. This is a pretty slow process, as not only is the salvage process time- and labor-intensive, but I am seeking out detailed information via Discogs ( and other sources across the Greater Interwebs. And cataloging keepers in my Cattrax database.

Some, like a pretty decent 1960 Bach Magnificat, I am digitizing and returning to my neighbor in CD form, which is about the only way she now hears music, given her mobility limitations (during her house recovery, she stayed with my mother-in-law, where she discovered Netflix streaming of old black & white films of music performances, which seem to be her great pleasure now).

What I have done so far is not turning out too well. I have started to use Audacity but I don't seem to have the hang of applying noise correction without impairing the overall SQ. So if the noise isn't too nasty, I rip them un-tweaked (which is still not as good as the original in the clean sections). A friend from the other side of the world tells me he uses Diamond Cut software and swears by one of its features that allows selection of a tiny chunk of timeline that includes a nasty click or pop, for which DC will substitute an interpolation between the selection boundaries.

This could turn out to be a forever project. And I have to make plenty of time for Actual Listening ...
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