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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dr. Tomas Gallia, SONART and the art of itinerant recording






"Dr. Tomas Gallia - (born in Budapest in 1921, died in Switzerland in 1997) Hungarian sound-engineer, born to a prominent musical family his career began at the Hungarian Radio in 1947 and in 1951 he became chief engineer for MHV, the predecessor of HUNGAROTON. In 1961 he moved to Milan where, along with Paul Déry, he established SONART, an independent recording company that operated out of the studios of the Angelicum concert hall."

... about Dr.Gallia and more informations and pictures

This - more or less - what's available on the WEB about Tomas Gallia... TOOOOOO BAAAD!

Last evening I was listening to an Astree disc from the magnificient "AS Series" (Orlando Gibbons' music performed by Jordi Savall and Christophe Coin) which was engineered by the above mentioned...

... and like from the mist, I remembered ALL...

It was about 1992 or 1993...

I've been an ancient music lover since while a fetus and Astree AS represented an illumination for yours truly, more than Telefunken's and RCA Seon and L'Oiseau Lyre's discs: those weird, yet SO tasty and classy coloured covers, the beauty of performances and recordings... also my first turntable and cartridge combo (Thorens TD-160 and Shure M-75ED) was able to unveil and recognize the quality of these discs...

Once a month when still a student, more and more as time passed, it was a true feast when I visited Gabbia records shop in Padua, where - hand-picked, one by one - I Chip'n'dale-like, shopped for one, three, ten, thirty and more Astree's AS... 'twas my (secret) vinyl fix... my friends were into Progressive and rock, while myself was deeply into Hopkinson Smith, Jordi Savall, Blandine Verlet et al.

That's the main reason I'm soooo poor;-) as I had to fill an HUGE gap in modern and rock and folk music, 'til these days... paying a lot discs I simply missed when they were published, because I was so busy and swinging in... ancient music and Astree's.

Many years later those early days... whooosh... and the Time Machine brings us to early '90s... no WEB, MUCH more sex and happiness with lesser means;-) I felt the strong, sincere need to "know" who was behind the records I so much adored...

In a couple of days of search, I obtained SONART telephone number in Milan... still remember that afternoon, after the job... my vintage couch was white and freshly restored, I didn't had a wireless telephone and was still unmarried... lot of spare time;-)))

Almost shaking and shivering, I dialed the round phone wheel and, after few rings, a gentleman said "Pronto?"

That was the beginning of a too short, yet so deep meeting with one of my heroes, one of those unknown heroes - my father - a singer in his spare-time all his life, my mother - a self-taught music lover and enthusiast - and J.F. Pontefract (met in Paris), Kenneth Wilkinson and Kavichandran Alexander (met in Santa Barbara), all recordists extraordinaire - who, someway, leaded me toward recording and a deeper, more lively, conscious approach to Music, true food for my Soul.

As my mother told me several times, when still in my early teens: "Better one more disc, and - if the case - missing a steak, Stefano!"... this while preparing a summer tomato salad with a joyful smile, while music was flooding our house...

... ohhhh, how I agree, Mom;-))) it's all so beautifully carved in my DNA...

... so, the gentleman answered the phone... 'twas Dr. Tomas Gallia.

I introduced myself and... after more than one hour of conversation, someone possibly asked for him and the phone call was kindly interrupted with the promise to talk again, soon.

A couple of days later, I called again... and again the magic happened... this Master of Life, Music and World Facts poured knowledge, technical information, anedoctes, memories from his beloved Hungary, of his partner, mr. Paul Dery, of Sonart, of better fiscal/taxes related "habits" in Montpellier, France, than in Milan, Italy (...), of musicians and travels, always warm and friendly as an older brother...

I can still remember the sound of his voice, quiet, yet fiery and passionate... a flood which left me almost breatheless...

Imagine: happy and no one to share with my joy and honour and satisfaction in knowing - first-hand - of recordings in country churches with hideously priced and sought-after tape recorders and microphones. A dream for a younger me...

... what can I say... I flooded myself, as well, like I opened a deeply stored, cherished memory.

... as always, an humble, probably stupid consideration: are them really only black plastic round discs or, more misteriously, it's where at least some of my (our?) personal history lays?

Vinyl: an analog hard-disc for memories?

Don't know... sure was... IS, an honour and immense pleasure having met Dr. Tomas Gallia.

1 comment:

csembalo said...

Wonderful memories of Gallia and recordings. Thanks for sharing this!