Arthur Fiedler Conducts Our Favorite Night on Bald Mountain – for DG!

More Modest Mussorgsky

More Danse Infernale / Fiedler

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  • Our favorite performance of Night on Bald Mountain in Double Plus (A++) sound is back, guaranteed to blow your mind (and maybe a woofer or two)
  • Side one also boasts an excellent Danse Macabre, with a powerful finish that may remind you of the thrill of live orchestral music
  • Side two of this amazing sleeper LP contains a wonderfully exciting Sorcerer’s Apprentice, also in very good sound
  • Watch your levels on this record – it’s dramatically more DYNAMIC than most Golden Age recordings

If you like Orchestral Spectaculars, have we got the record for you!

This pressing clearly has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND — not in every way, but in some important ways. The ENERGY of both the sound and the performances is truly awesome. Fiedler brings this music to LIFE.

We love the album, but sadly most copies range in sound from mediocre to bad, dreadful in fact. If you’ve played a fair number of DG recordings over the years you might not have any trouble believing how bad the average one is.

Being a DG recording, one of the things you won’t be demonstrating with this record is 1950’s Living Stereo Tubey Magical string tone — it’s just not part of the DG sound. Not in 1976 anyway. In the ’50s DG had a very different sound as you might imagine; we’ve played those ’50s records and we know just how wonderful they can sound. Finding them in clean condition is the hard part.

That said, this record is ALIVE, and that counts for a lot here at Better Records. This pressing has dynamics that are rarely heard outside of the concert hall, as well as wonderful spaciousness, openness and depth. Note especially how the string basses and cellos growl like the real thing.

The Best Night on Bare Mountain

But don’t buy this record just for the sound, even as good as the sound of the record may be.

What you want to buy this record for is the best performance of Night On Bald Mountain ever recorded. Fiedler plays it with a kind of pull-out-the-stops abandonment that no other conductor has on a recording, not to my knowledge anyway. It’s supposed to be a wild witches’ frenzy, and this is the only performance I know of that allows you to experience the full measure of the diabolic revelry in your mind’s eye.

A Real Sleeper

This is one of those “sleeper” albums that, as record collectors, you might stumble across from time to time, especially if you’re the kind of person who does nothing but play records all day. You will simply be amazed at the performance and the sound on this copy.

The Sound

Lively, set in a huge hall, with big orchestral sound, and more energy than you will find on 99 out of 100 classical LPs. So present, with an extended top end and transparency that allows you to “see” to the back of the hall.

Huge low brass, the kind you hear on Ansermet’s recording from the Victoria Hall. What a sound!

It gets loud and it stays clean doing it. Not many records can make that claim.

Side one’s works include:

Mussorgsky / Night On Bald Mountain 
Saint-saens / Danse Macabre
Khachaturian / Sabre Dance from “Gayne” Ballet

Side Two

Side two includes:

Dukas / The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Stravinsky / Danse Infernale from “Firebird” Ballet
Ginastera / Danza Final from “Estancia” Ballet

DOR Scale

This record ranks pretty high on our Difficulty of Reproduction (DOR) scale. You will need a top quality system to keep it from sounding shrill and having the brass blare at you. If you’ve worked hard on your system and room for a very long time, spending lots of money and countless tedious hours tweaking, this record will show you how successful you’ve been. It’s a challenge, that’s certain. If you feel your stereo is up to it, we would love to send you the record and have you see for yourself whether your system is up to the challenge or not.

I remember playing these DG pressings only five or ten years ago and hearing shrill strings, harmonic distortion and many other unpleasant qualities in the sound. Today the sound is dramatically better. This is no accident. It is the result of both hard work and the Revolutions in Audio we discuss on the site.

This is certainly not the record for everyone. You must look past its shortcomings to hear what it does that no other recording of the work has done, in my experience anyway. To me it’s priceless.