'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Monday, April 14, 2008

Concert, Corruption, and Recording Company Chaos

Before I discuss the music on 'Arrival' I did promise to give you a little insight into its background.
This particular story does highlight the challenges that musicians sometimes have to face in order to get their music heard, and, occasionally, the murkier side of the classical music recording industry.
Really, this is a re-release as the recording dates from 1983, but, as it is no longer available, we felt that it was important to make use of the modern way of delivering music to the world, and release it on the digital market.

The story really starts before the recording was actually made, around 1982/3.
A man, whom shall always remain well and truly nameless, in fact I shall call him Mr.X, went to see Hill/Wiltschinsky play at the Hexagon in Reading, UK.
He was most enthusiastic after the concert and very keen to sign the duo up for a record label he was in the process of forming.

So keen was he, that he booked, and paid for, one of the best recording studios in Manchester, at that time, Pluto Studios.
Recording of the album took about a week, which is an incredible feat, especially when you consider that there was very little editing as this was such a cumbersome process then.

Mr.X also wanted to manage the duo and he sent a contract to be signed.
It was at this point that alarm bells started ringing.
It was a very poor deal, with issues too numerous to mention, although one was that the duo would have to pay travel expenses wherever Mr. X travelled worldwide...
It must be remembered that this was to be the duo's first recording, and they were very keen to have it released, but had to balance this against the fear of financial exploitation.

They decided the contract was unsound, and Robin arranged, and met Mr.X. for a showdown in a local hotel, and explained that he wasn't happy to sign the contract.
The irate reaction was, "I'm gonna sit on this goddam album and it will never see the light of day."

This was obviously not a good position to be in.
The duo needed this album releasing and were rightfully proud of it.
Also, it should be remembered that at this time it wasn't as easy as it is today to record and promote music. The backing of a record company was a great achievement.

Fortunately, Robin, whilst angry, frustrated, and shocked, managed to keep his cool.
He left the hotel and immediately drove to the recording studio, unsure whether the master tapes were still there, or, whether they had already been collected by Mr.X.
Luckily, they were still there, so Robin paid for them and removed them from the premises, all carried out whilst thinking that X could arrive at any moment, and cause a great deal of trouble.
He didn't and Robin made his escape with the precious master recording.
Mr.X did go to the studio the next day to collect the masters, and was utterly furious to find them already gone.
He did threaten legal action, which we later found out was quite ironic.
It was discovered that he had spent time in jail in the UK, and was being urgently sought by the Canadian police for fraud. True to their reputation they got their man, arrested him, returned him to Canada, and imposed another lengthy jail sentence.
We never heard from him again.

So, the duo found themselves in the position of having a finished recording, and no label to put it on.
It was taken to London and had very favourable responses from a number of companies, and it was decided to sign to 'Hyperion' for a 10 year period, and was eventually released in 35 countries, on both vinyl and cassette, as 'Virtuoso Music for Two Guitars'.

After a traumatic start this album proved to be a turning point for the duo, who went on to record many more times, with various, high profile, labels.
All the stresses that Robin went through to ensure this album wasn't destroyed were certainly worth it.
In fact, he was in Tower Records, New York City, in 1986, and it was the only guitar duo recording that they had, which was a very proud moment.

As this recording has now been unavailable for a few years, and had such an impact on the classical guitar world at the time, we felt it needed to be heard once more.
The change of title?
Well, after that sort of start in life, wouldn't you want a new beginning?

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