Ted Kendall's CEDAR Cambridge system rescues irreplaceable Kathleen Ferrier performances

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered

1 August 2017

An impossible restoration job...?

Kathleen Ferrier died of cancer at 41 in 1953, but interest in her unique contralto voice remains strong to this day. An award in her name is presented annually to promising young singers and her commercial recordings have stayed in catalogue for over sixty years, supplemented at intervals by issues of broadcast material as off-air recordings have come to light. In 1995, a cache of such material recorded onto 78rpm discs (Lieder and songs by Schubert, Brahms, Wolf, Mahler, Stanford, Parry, Jacobson and Rubbra, recorded off-air between 1947 and 1952) was donated to the British Library from the estate of Kenneth Leech. Unfortunately, the discs had multiple issues that prevented commercial release. The poor reception conditions on the crowded post-war AM wavebands gave rise to interference, heterodyne whistles and cross-modulation, where distorted audio from interfering stations superimposed itself on the wanted signal. All of these problems manifested even before the discs were cut, which introduced even further problems because Leech's lathe wowed frequently and unpredictably. As for the discs themselves, the passage of time had added large quantities of scratches, thumps, swish and hiss, so cleaning and correcting all of these problems presenting a task which nobody was willing to undertake until the job arrived at the door of former BBC engineer and long-time CEDAR user, Ted Kendall.

The solution

Kendall told us, "The original discs were regarded as historical artefacts and were therefore off-limits for chemical treatment, so the restoration had to be performed from transfers of the discs as found, with minimal cleaning. This was a monumental task that could not have been attempted without the full range of CEDAR Cambridge processes. Initial passes though Declickle, Vintage CR and NR-5 were followed by extensive use of Manual Declick and Dethump to tackle obstinate disturbances, and Retouch to remove whistles, Morse code transmissions, swish and interfering programmes from other stations. Something like ten thousand individual operations were required to clean the signal to a degree that would have been impossible without CEDAR. Arguably the most important operation, however, was the use of Respeed to eliminate the distressing wow without interfering with Ferrier's vibrato. Without this, reissuing the material would not have been possible."

Following months of work, Kendall was able to present the audio as it had never been heard before. Advance copies of the CD were received rapturously and, following its launch at a reception at The Musicians' Church in London, the album immediately entered and remained in the Classical Artists charts, and was hailed as the most important addition to the Ferrier discography for years.

For further information:

Ted Kendall
e: ted.kendall@soundretrieval.myzen.co.uk

CEDAR Audio Limited, 20 Home End, Fulbourn, Cambridge, CB21 5BS, United Kingdom.
t: +44 1223 881771
f: +44 1223 881778
e: info@cedaraudio.com