Another beautiful gatefold set from the 60's - this time it's United Artists getting in on the "Wall To Wall Stereo" game that was pioneered by Command Records.
Ferrante & Teicher
were a duo of American piano players,
known for their light arrangements of familiar classical pieces, movie
soundtracks, and show tunes, and that's fully what I expected when I dropped this disc on the turntable for the first time. What I got, however, was something completely different - an album of songs as performed by John Cage had he grown up as an easy-listening piano player. F&T prepare/play their pianos with "sticks, mutes, bones, and strums" and blast through a set of show tunes and original compositions that neatly fall into the general "space age bachelor pad music" genre, complete with exaggerated stereo effects.
As usual, the liner notes (see below for an excerpt) are extensive, detailing the preparations and processes for each piece, as well as the general recording processes used to produce the final product.
Fantastic mid-century modern album graphics by Emmett McBain, too.
(there's a pinterest devoted to his album covers here.)
This is one of the best unexpected surprises ever in my crate digging.
Ferrante and Teicher - Dynamic Twin Pianos
(United Artists Ultra Audio WWS-8504 1960)
Blue Skies (Irving Berlin - 2:07)
Tea For Two (V. Youmans &
I. Caser - 2:38)
A Bee And His Honey (Ferrante & Teicher - 1:17)
The Lady Is A Tramp (R. Rogers & L. Hart - 2:27)
The Sheik Of Araby
(Ted Snyder, F. Wheeler & H. Smith - 1:55)
(Ferrante & Teicher - 2:12)
Cold Turkey (Ferrante
& Teicher - 2:05)
Mine (George & Ira Gershwin - 2:28)
For Strings (David Rose & Sam Gallop - 2:23)
They Can't Take That
Away From Me (George & Ira Gershwin - 2:35)
Echo Canyon (Ferrante
& Teicher - 2:04)
Liza (Ira Gershwin, Gus Kahn & George
Gershwin - 2:17).
About FERRANTE and TEICHER
and Teicher have been purveying their delightful style of twin piano
work for many years. Both with serious classical backgrounds, they
turned their talents to bright popular twin piano work early in their
careers and ever since have enjoyed concert hall and record success as
is attested to by their hit recording of "The Theme From The Apartment"
on United Artist Records, the parent company of Ultra Audio. Ferrante
and Teicher are the leading exponents of what are commonly called
"prepared pianos." These are pianos in which the sound is altered to
create effects the instrument itself is not capable of producing. Via
the prepared piano technique Ferrante and Teicher have been able to
develop exciting and striking musical effects that enhances their
performances and makes them unique among piano duos. This album
represents some of the most imaginative and dazzling sounds yet created
by the artists.
Some of the effects that you can hear in this album are extremely
complex and took Ferrante and Teicher years to develop. And the pianists
are still keeping the manner in which they develop some of these
effects a deeply guarded secret. However, the pianists have given names
to many of the effects they are able to produce on their prepared
pianos, and are willing to tell how they produce them. When Ferrante and
Teicher started work with prepared pianos, they realized the need of a
fresh set of musical terms to identify the sounds they were creating.
This served to relieve the problems of communication between the artists
and the recording engineers.
Here is a list of the terms used by Ferrante and Teicher to identify some of their special effects:
STICKS—Small pieces of wood or metal are placed on the strings to produce a sound similar to a harpsichord or honky tonk piano.
MUTES—Wedges of rubber, felt, or paper, are inserted between the
strings. This allows the notes played to be heard without any ring. The
effect is similar to a bongo or conga drum, or at times, even to a
caliope calliope. However, in many cases the sound cannot be compared to
any musical instrument.
BONES—This sound is achieved in similar fashion to mutes except for
the placement of wedges producing a sound like a tuned bongo, xylophone
or temple block.
STRUMS—The strings of a piano are strummed with the finger or a pick
of varying stiffness. This produces the effect of a harp, guitar or
These terms are used to describe the highlights of various selections in this album.
Ferrante and Teicher do not try, in developing their unusual piano
effects, to imitate the sound of other musical instruments. Their intent
has been to derive as many valid sounds from their prepared pianos as
their imaginations make possible. That they have vivid imaginations is
brilliantly illustrated in this new album, an adventure into "The World
Of Recorded Sound."