History: 25 Years CD Ortofon, Garrard, Decca, Tannoy The Sound of Tubes and Transistors
Your Desert Island Discs Lp Cleaning & DIY Cleaning Formula Elisabeth Lugt Soprano
Garrard 4 & 5 HF
Turntable & Cartridge Adjustment Marie-Claire Alain, Organist
The Universal Stabilizing Ring SACD: Upsampling & Noiseshaping Decca London Ribbon HF Loudspeaker
URSR: Review in PFO 20
DIY: Turntable Weight/Clamp The Joy of Well Positioned Speakers
URSR: Review in HiFi World LP Lists Vintage Equipment
URSR: Picture Gallery
The Long Playing Record Guide
URSR: Positive Feedback Award
The TD124 page The SP10 Page
Joachim Bung: Swiss Precision Stefano Pasini: German Perfection
Mengelberg's St. Matthew Passion Plinth for Technics SP-10 mk2 Record Shops in Amsterdam
Paris Jazz The Sound of The Turntable Mat Acoustic Revive R77 Generator
CLASSIQUE 777 Lp Record Covers The Treasure Trove How to Correct WARPED Records
Klaas A. Posthuma - Remembered Ernst Lumpe: Allegro-Royale Pseudonyms Nostalgia: Violinists on 7" 45 rpm
Steinway-Lyngdorf Model D Infinity KAPPA 7 A Loudspeaker Systems DIY - Draaitafelconstructie - in Dutch
The Turntable Mat - Page in Russian Ajuste de un giradiscos NOTES: The Belt Drive Turntable
Phono Cartridge-Headshell-Plinth Porgy and Bess Active Loudspeaker System
Phono Cartridge Optimizing Gold for Bernard Haitink Rabco SL-8E Tangential Tonearm
Mercury Living Presence Records HiFi Tunes: DAS KLASSIKERBUCH DIY:Tonearm Building
The Bullet Plug Violinist/Violist Paul Godwin The Remington Site
Mercury Recordings on Fontana CINERAMA and Trinaural microphone Placement Concert Hall - Musical Masterpiece Society
Cook-Livingstone Binaural Recording System Willem Mengelberg and his orchestra filmed in Epinay in 1931- Contemporary Records - Lester Koenig-
Soundfountain Audio and Music Bulletin logo
hobbyists's views for hobbyists
Mercury Recordings on
The Fontana Label



In 1962 Philips Phonographische Industrie in Baarn, The Netherlands, bought the Chicago based record company Mercury. In Europe EMI had a contract with Mercury for distribution and also for the cooperation regarding new recordings. Philips had to respect the EMI contract and were naturally obstructed by it until it expired at the end of 1963. There were at the time some problems concerning the sales of Mercury Living Presence releases in other European countries because Philips wanted to start distributing their newly acquired label. Therefore Philips could only fully benefit from its purchase from 1963 on. What happened to the catalogue of the well known company for which Bob Fine, Wilma Cozart Fine and Robert Eberenz made the Living Presence recordings which were mastered by George Piros? 


Fontana - the Peculiar Philips Sub Label.

Fontana initially contained recordings like Brahms' 1st Piano concerto with Leon Fleisher and George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra or Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody coupled with Franck's Variations Synfoniques played by the same musicians (originally Epic in the USA). There was also Adam Harasiewiecz playing Chopin's op. 11 and for instance Ingrid Haebler with Szymon Goldberg conducting the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra in Mozart's concerto K 414 and Rondo K 386, with Haydn's Concerto in D, and there were a few more of Ingrid Haebler's Mozart concertos.
Fontana was also the label for jazz and reissues of the popular repertory earlier released on the Philips label : Malando (and his Tango Rumba Orchestra), Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Trio Los Paragayos and The Dutch Swing College Band, etc.

In the last years of its existence Fontana became the label for reissues of recordings that had been acquired or previously had been released on the Philips label. To mention a few classical releases:

  • Clara Haskil playing Chopin's Concerto No. 2 and De Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain with conductor Igor Markevitch (was Philips 835 072);
  • Dvorak's 9th Symphony with Dorati conducting the (Royal) Concertgebouw Orchestra (was Philips 835 032);
  • Handel's Water music conducted by Eduard van Beinum (was Philips 835 004); Debussy's La Mer and Nocturnes, again Eduard van Beinum conducting the (Royal) Concertgebouworchestra (was Philips 835 001);
  • Bruckner's 9th in electronic stereo by van Beinum (was L09011L);
  • The Wiener Sängerknaben singing Brahms, Schubert, a.o. (was 835 398);
  • Fourteen Waltzes of Chopin by Geörgy Cziffra in a beautiful recording (was 835 039);
  • Dutch alto Aafje Heynis (known from her singing in Schubert's Rosamunde with Haitink, and in Mahler's 2nd and Beethoven's 9th symphonies) is soloist in Brahms' Alto Rhapsody with Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting The Singverein and The Wiener Symphoniker (the second recording by Aafje Heynis; the first was with Eduard van Beinum conducting).

    The famous mono recording of Mahler's Lied von der Erde with Nan Merriman and Ernst Haefliger with Eduard van Beinum on AL 00410/11, subsequently appeared on GL 03161 and later on Fontana in (regrettably) electronic stereo: 894 120 but with good dynamics that show Van Beinum's expressive powers which are also evident in Bruckner's Symphony No.9.

  • In the nineteen seventies there were many different series of both Philips and Fontana in existence a fact which led to much confusion. Restructuring the catalogue seemed necessary and as the Fontana labeleventually ceased to exist much of its contents was released in the Philips Grandioso series while most of the time use was made of the Fontana and original early Philips matrixes.

    In 1963 Philips made pressings of Mercury tapes for the European market on the orange colored label in Philips style with the Mercury logo in the series MGL 120 (mono) and MGY 130 (stereo). Original matrixes as well as fronts of the American covers were supplied by Mercury of recordings of popular works that could be marketed in Europe. Those were recordings from Mercury's 90000 series, the second series of stereo recordings. When advertising the releases emphasis was always put on the technical quality of the 'Living presence' recording using quotes of reviewers and copywriters like 'outstanding engineering', 'exciting', 'brilliance in sound', 'astonishing clarity', 'electrifying spectacular'. I mention reference numbers of some of these 'European' releases.

    There were also transfers to a 134 series with Mercury logo, 134 303 MVY being one of these with Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony conducting Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (with pianist Eugene List), Cuban Overture and An American in Paris (Am. Mercury 90290); or a recording of Gina Bachauer playing the Chopin Op. 11 Concerto and some piano pieces (Am. Mercury 90368).

    Not much later several tapes were released in the 838 series and a few recordings like Byron Janis with the Liszt Concertos, and with Schumann's Concerto, Scheherazade with Antal Dorati and Gina Bachauer with Beethoven's 5th Concerto were released in the 839 series (531, 532, 599 and 535 respectively).

    The MGY 130 series were gradually abandoned altogether although some items remained available in a few other European countries for several years but many were now pressed from Philips matrixes. The only Mercury that was mentioned in 1972 in the Philips catalogue was the spectacular best-selling MGY 130 514. In the Classical Catalogue 1972/73 the Fontana edition was announced. In the 838 series Beethoven's 5th Piano concerto with Gina Bachauer and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski has reference number 500. Beethoven's 5th with Antal Dorati and Schubert 'Unfinished' with Stanislaw Skrowaczeski is 838 502. On 838 503 Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt conducts the two Mozart symphonies. And the music from Coppélia (Délibes) conducted by Antal Dorati and from Sylvia (Délibes) conducted by Anatole Fistoulari is now on 838 505.
    Because Philips was a household name in many countries it was probably easier to sell Mercury recordings on the Philips label. A number of recordings made in cooperation with the Mercury team were released directly on the Philips label as was the case with Blue beard's Castle (Bartók) performed by Olga Szonyi and Mihaly Szekely, and Antal Dorati conducting the London Symphony Orchestra (in the US Mercury 90311).

    An early example are the recordings of the Piano concertos Nos. 1 and 2 of Franz Liszt played by Yuri Boukoff and conductor Laszlo Somogyi (Am. Mercury 18066) which was released in the Philips 835 series and later on Fontana 894 009. And there were more:

    • Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony with Dorati and the London Symphony Orchestra on 838 504 (Mercury 90312);
    • Violin concertos of Schumann and Mendelsohn played by Henryk Szering with the London SO conducted by Antal Dorati: Mercury 90406, Philips 838 417, much later reissued as 6527 061 (Sequenza-series);
    • Szering performing Khachaturian's Concerto with the London Symphony and Antal Dorati on 838 418 (Mercury SR 90393);
    • Beethoven's Violin concerto with the London orchestra directed by Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt was released in the USA in a 3-record set with the concertos of Sibelius, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky (Mercury SR3-9017 - the Beethoven appeared on Philips 835 330, the Sibelius and Prokofiev on 835 357);
    • Cello Sonatas of Mendelssohn and Chopin played by Starker on Philips 838 401 (Mercury 90320);
    • Szering playing Brahms' Concerto on 838 400 (Mercury 90308);
    • Kreisler's compositions accompanied by pianist Charles Reiner on 838 426 (Mercury 90348). etc.

    I am not sure if excerpts from Lulu and Wozzeck (Alban Berg) conducted by Dorati were released for the first time as 839 263 (Mercury 90278) and music by Schoenberg, Berg and von Webern conducted by Antal Dorati as 839 264 (Mercury 90316).



    Top of Page

    Home | Audio & Music Bulletin | LP List | Record Cleaning Page

    The Remington Site | Links

    Audio&Music Bulletin - Rudolf A. Bruil, Editor - Copyright 1998-2008 by Rudolf A. Bruil and co-authors