Strange stories from the record industry: a journalist, who’s also a friend, told me a few days ago about a curious story, and I started investigating about it.
Let’s start: once upon a time, there was a world famous group (Zefiro) who finds out, while watching one of their own live videos on youtube, that YT indicates as “song author” a performer who’s actually another group. They are called “I barocchisti lombardi” under the baton of Jacopo de Marchis. A quick check on Amazon shows that actually a CD of Mozart’s Grand Partita by “I barocchisti lombardi” conducted by De Marchis actually exists. it is available both as a CD and as a digital download.
It may actually be an error of the tracking system: in the end, these tools are not made for classical music, then two similar recordings may be mistaken. But this is actually strange because the Zefiro recording is a promo video available only on YT, not a CD. How could a system mistake two recordings that are so different?
At this point, Zefiro finds out the CD on Spotify and find out that the performance is actually their own, labeled under another group. But there is no group called “I barocchisti lombardi”, and no conductor named Jacopo De Marchis.
Such a thing is at least bizarre: it seems something that may have various names, but none of these names is related to something legal.
However, we can go on the site of RC records (the original site was obscured on dec 13th, but there is still a google cache copy and a mirror site) to ask for informations. On the site, We find a catalogue of more or less 15 titles. The CD covers seem to be quite naive, possibly home made. There are a lot of performers: no one of them has a known name.
Let’s make a check on these persons: in the web there is no track of any of them. Or better, the only thing each of these musician did in his life is a CD with RC records. Nothing more. But this may not mean anything: maybe they are bunch of friends, music lovers, who gathered some money and issued their own recordings just for fun…
However, if we check out also choirs and orchetras, no one of them exists. Hiding a orchestra, an ensemble, a choir, today, is quite difficult. No traces: no concerts, no websites, no FB profiles, nothing.
Well, not all of them. In the list, one conductor appears to exists actually (Simone Perugini) and one orchestra owns a web site (Harmoniae Templum Chamber Orchestra). They both have a personal site and some activity.
The orchestra website is simple: in the “about us” sections there are the profiles of the president, of the conductor and of the principal guest conductor.
The principal guest conductor is actually Simone Perugini, who owns a FB profile, has published books and critical editions with important publishing houses, has been in music competitions committees. And he recorded several records with RC records.
Checking better the web page of the orchestra, you can find the gallery.
And here my suspects come true: not only the pictures are all from different groups, but one of the pictured groups is Zero Emission Baroque Orchestra. I’ve been a founder of this group in 2013 and recorded a CD (a real one) with them back in 2014.
I know all the musicians in the photo: I did a check to see if they have been involved in some project I’m not aware of, just a phone call confirms me that they don’t know anything of it. Why does Harmoniae Templum stole one of the pics of my group? There could be also my face on that site. There are my friends’ faces.
And there is a even bigger curiosity now: who’s the principal conductor, Theodor Robertson? His description reads as follow (look at the green errors, they are very strange)
Tehodore Roberston has established himself as one of the most dynamic young conductors on the international stage. eH is currently the Music Director of Philharmonia Lancastar, and the founder and co-artistic director of the Young Modern Orchestra. Her career has led to acclaimed performances and rehearsals with orchestras around the world, including the American Youth Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic (Czech Republic), Brandenburger Symphoniker (Germany), Estonian National Youth Symphony (Estonia), New Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria), Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Charlos Chávez (Mexico), and the Seattle Symphony. She has participated in the renowned Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice at the New England Conservatory, and worked with legendary composers, performers and ensembles such as Jonathan Harvey, Tristan Murail, Graeme Jennings, Garth Knox and Ensemble Modern.
Now, cross check it with the profile of Julia Tai, Seattle University (check out the red areas)
Dr. Julia Tai is the Director of Orchestra at Seattle Pacific University, the Music Director of Philharmonia Northwest, and the founder and Co-Artistic Director of the Seattle Modern Orchestra. Her career has led to acclaimed performances and rehearsals with orchestras around the world, including the American Youth Symphony, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic (Czech Republic), Brandenburger Symphoniker (Germany), Estonian National Youth Symphony (Estonia), New Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria), Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Charlos Chávez (Mexico), and the Seattle Symphony. She has participated in the renowned Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice at the New England Conservatory, and worked with legendary composers, performers and ensembles such as Jonathan Harvey, Tristan Murail, Graeme Jennings, Garth Knox and Ensemble Modern.
What a surprising coincidence.
But there’s more: the CV of the orchestra president is copied from a french manager profile: if you want to enjoy, just google the whole text.
Then, the orchestra does not exist. We had two actors, now we have one.
One actor is still standing, the orchestra conductor Simone Perugini. He’s a well known professional, with a long and good activity, and an important role on rediscovering works of Domenico Cimarosa. He exists: I made some checks with several musicians who worked with him in several projects. And he’s more evident than the others because he’s the only one who exists.
What’s he doing in here? It’s a mistery: however he’s the only existing person in a forest of ghosts.
Let’s see the label catalogue in more detail: the records are very strange. The covers are badly done, the CD lenght does not go over 30 minutes, the physical CD on amazon are sold as “print on demand”. Listening to the records (in addition to the Zefiro performance and to another one, Torri’s requiem, stolen from a Dombrecht’s recoridng) I found out Vanhal’s stabat mater (stolen from Neumann’s old recording), Paisiello’s Serva Padrona (from Cetra Basel), a mass by Jommelli (from Hillary griffith’s recording for Orfeo). More to come. They speed up some of the recordings, but phrasings, singing intonations and continui realization are too similar to be a mere coincidence. Moreover, the speeding is done with a very cheap technique, so you hear all the “holes”.
On the site there are a lot of magnificent reviews. Some of the reviewers however exists only in this place (for example a certain Maximilian Lorrengton) and they write on unknown magazines. Here another known name appears, Roger Norrington, who’s actually a conductor and not a reviewer. A person with the same name? We’ll try to let him know that his name has been used here.
We keep on investigating. In the meantime, another strange point: according to WHOIS (the register of who owns the web domains), guess who’s the owner of rcrecordclassic.com? You can put the domain in the box of WHOIS site and check with your own eyes 🙂