My last post was published on Tuesday (and was about), the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Accession Day. I had been thinking a few days beforehand that perhaps I should do something to celebrate the day (as a reminder of an event when I was 14 years old). By sheer chance, or stroke of fate, Tuesday was the day that the Mercury Living Presence Boxed Set 0f 50 CDs that I’d pre-ordered in mid-December last year (prior to its release this month) was delivered to my front door.
You can check out the list of CDs and content of the collection at this web page. You can also preview some of the tracks. Or you can look up the name of each individual album on Amazon or iTunes and preview it there.
The Decca Sound collection of 50 CDs is great (especially for $14.99 on iTunes), and the RCA Living Stereo collection of 60 CDs excites me (I’ll make a post about this in due course), but the Mercury Living Presence set is the one that excited me the most.
The fact that it arrived on the very day of the 60th anniversary of the death of King George VI and the accession of Queen Elizabeth II seemed like fate. The video for the Mercury Living Presence Boxed Set starts off with a march written by William Walton for the Coronation of King George VI in 1937 (the year I was born), and was substantially revised for the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
Here is the video advertising the collection:
The march I mentioned above is Crown Imperial. It has always been a favourite of mine from my teens.
Next is the recording from the Mercury Living Presence Boxed Set (the cover of the CD is the feature image for this post). Please note that the recording sounds fairly quiet. That’s because the recording has preserved the full dynamic range of the performance and this has to allow for the climax just before the end when the peak recording level momentarily reaches 0dB (zero dB), above which digital recordings distort. Nowadays it seems to be accepted practice for recording engineers to “normalize” the volume level of sound tracks so that the overall sound is loud and impressive throughout the track. This is especially so with popular music, which usually has very little dynamic range – which is what commercial (pop music) radio stations like – as the music is at a fairly constant sound level. The adverts are usually louder.
Here is Crown Imperial, from the Mercury Living Presence collection – CD 12. Don’t forget the volume control on the left.
Here’s a video of a performance by BläserPhilharmonie Ostwestfalen-Lippe at its yearly concert in 2011 (20 Feb at Bad Lippspringe, Germany). Click on the X to get rid of the advert.
By now you will probably be familiar with the music. It’s now time to present a video of a performance by the Worcestershire Intermediate Orchestra at their Christmas Concert held at Kidderminster Town Hall on 4th December 2011. This performance is gorgeously out of tune for its entirety, but God bless them for trying; and the audience for their enthusiastic applause. Agian, click on that X.
And now for another performance of the music: