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A French conductor makes the most beautiful classical vinyls in the world

I have a rather original background: after a beginning of scientific studies at the university, inspired by the movie “Dead Poet Society” with Robin Williams, I decided to abandon everything to devote myself to my passion for classical music. 

Debussy piano Preludes played by the legendary pianist Marcelle Meyer,
isued for the fisrt time on vinyl LP of the highest quality

I entered the Paris Conservatory in 1991 to study compositional disciplines, and graduated in 1995. 

Then I started studying conducting, and had the chance to deepen my experiences by being invited by great conductors ( such as maestro Günter Herbig  or Georges Prêtre ) to attend their rehearsals. I also met Ravel’s disciple  composer conductor Manuel Rosenthal , to whom I presented  some of my orchestration works. 

During the same period, I also wrote many articles on great performers of the past (violinists, pianists, conductors…), both for french and english reviews and editors, because I am also a musicologist.
Afterwards, I created my own orchestra in 2005, which I conducted for 11 years. I happen to have a sort of  “speciality” for forgotten XX° French symphonic works and composers.

But since my teenage years, I am also a great collector of classical vinyl records; when I was a student, a large part of my money was spent in the purchase of rare records,… to the great despair ( at the time  ) of my parents ! My collection is now over 6000 records; it turns out to be a good investment:
I decided to combine my musical knowledge, with my collector’s mind, to create unique vinyl records; I created my vinyl publishing company French Record Company 5 years ago. I first published a reference book, the “bible” for french vinyl record editions from the 50’s – 60’s.

The superb gatefold cover with iron stamping of gold letteringd made by craftsman bookbinders makes 
this the most luxurious piano record produced in over 50 years

There has been a lot of talk about the “vinyl renaissance” for several years now… but in fact vinyl records have never been abandoned and true connoisseurs have always preferred them to the CD… Numerous publishers have reissued identical (facsimile) versions of countless vinyl records, in jazz, classical, rock… These editions allow a large public to rediscover these records; but for all that it remains “only” of the re – edition.
I wanted to do more and better: to find original tapes from the 50’s / 60’s, and to edit titles that should have been published in the 50’s and 60’s, but were not for some reasons – thus to achieve real original vinyl editions – “first editions” ! 

Each record is the result of a specific research, of a particular discovery, as much from a “sound” point of view, as from an editorial or interpretation point of view.
The vinyl market around the world is very dynamic, and is constantly growing, especially in the “high end”; the pressing plants are overbusy, the manufacturing delays are getting longer and longer. 

There is a wealthy clientele, mostly passionate about audio and having extremely expensive listening equipments. You have to know that in this field, speakers can be worth more than 200.000 $, an amp 50.000 / 100.000 $, etc…etc… Customers are very demanding in terms of sound quality, and generally have a good knowledge of records and performers. The beautiful limited editions in vinyl are sold between 150 $ -1000$ per record, sometimes more.

However, I have always thought that a “very pure” sound (or supposedly so…), is not a guarantee of musicality, far from it ! Too many people think in terms of “sound”, wanting to flatter their great audio equipments, without always really knowing how the instruments should sound; but one must try to understand what the sound ingenieur of the time wanted to achieve, not to mention the performers. An original reel tape is the best possible source to work with, but it can be imperfect: you have to imagine / re-create what they wanted to achieve musically… I cut my lacquers with the score in hand, taking advice from another musicologist – musician, and a recording specialist, who worked for the record industry in the 60s-70’s.. 

It has to be a perfect balance between musicality and technology. Here  we are in the anachronism… !  No computer, no “digitalfiles” ! We do not make any artificial corrections of any kind, everything remains natural, “pure analog” as we say, exactly as it was 60 years ago.

A Neumann Lathe : this machine « cuts » the lacquer record directly from the original mastertape, 
Lacquer that is then sent to the vinyl factory to be pressed in larger quantity

My training as a musician pushes me in this direction: to bring the world of the vinyl record industry from the world of “sound”, to the world of music. This is my credo, my goal: to create musical editions, faithful to the performers, coherent – not just “audio” !…not “sound by the pound”! For me, the question is not the “purity” of the sound, but its naturalness, its fidelity to the original color… to find a proper sonic stage, to feel the presence of the performers in your room.

Moreover, impassioned of painting, fine arts, I wanted to publish discs of a unique quality, of a luxury without equivalent – uncompromising issues : for that, I decided to work only with a  studio of mastering using ultra rare old apparatuses ( as at the time, some being vaccum tubes amps and preamps ), … and for the sleeve, I call upon true craftsmen, and we faithfully use the materials of origin ( paper, cardboard, binding…). In fact, I wanted to recreate a “golden age”.
Each record is pressed in limited edition ( approx. 200 copies ).

My 1st record was quickly successful among collectors all over the world, I got excellent reviews, and above all the recognition of great collectors and professionals of the business.

In 2021, considered as one of the 2 most expensive classical vinyl records in the world, my 1st vinyl album has been chosen ( by the manager of a channel specialized in “analog” records editions ) as “winner, …best record in the world”; it was for me a consecration, because I work almost alone, and had little money at the beginning.

I like to try to make a “Rolls Royce” edition that will be sought after by collectors, to try to reach a kind of “aesthetic perfection”, whatever it costs, an edition that will increase in value with time.
The making of a vinyl record takes at least 6 months, often more… months of hard work, solving problems, being absolutely demanding; there are moments of exhaustion, of discouragement …. So when collectors tell me later how happy they are to have bought my record, saying : 

” Compared to what is being done, your record is phenomenal !…not just another world, but another planet ! “… it is for me a great source happiness tinged with real pride.

As my activity as a conductor is currently reduced at the moment, my goal ( apart from finding an agent ! ) would be to use my publishing business and propose to large professionnal orchestras recording projects with me as the conductor – to record world premiere editions of rare works, pressed on vinyl and sold as “special high end editions” for orchestra’s audience. So much can be done, I have lots of ideas…

There are still a few available copies of this unique Debussy record available…. If you like rare records, or even just the idea of owning a “work of Art”, hurry up !

Its price: 600 €.

Not being a businessman, …. if I had to give advice to anyone who wants to start a business, it would be: follow your intuition ! Intuition is the magic word to me !

What works for your neighbor will not necessarily work for you… So follow your intuition, beyond logic: if you feel that it’s the right time, go for it…; if you have a feeling (good or bad) about a potential business partner, follow your feeling.
Try to have a perception of the context beyond the assumed rules or agreed models: they may not suit you. Not everything is rational; but above all do things with passion. Carpe Diem !

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Charlotte Cremers