Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky

Hot Stamper Pressings Featuring the Violin

Superb Recordings with Jascha Heifetz Performing

This is a very old review and it’s doubtful we would not prefer the right Shaded Dog pressing.

This Red Seal pressing of the famous 1961 recording (LSC 2563) has SUBLIME White Hot Stamper sound for one of the works contained herein, the Schubert. It’s so rich and sweet you may have a hard time believing it’s on a Red Seal LP. The originals we’ve played over the years sure never sounded like this!

Perhaps it’s the thin vinyl that contributed to the shockingly good sound. Maybe, just maybe, RCA was right to start pressing thinner records in the ’70s. If they can sound this good, we should all be for it.

So often when we do these shootouts involving original pressings up against their reissue counterparts, it’s the reissues that sound rich, warm and tubey, and the originals that sound dry and boxy. If you haven’t noticed that in your own critical listening, play this record against any shaded dogs that you own and see which one is more Tubey Magical.

If you have your VTA set right, you might be shocked to find it’s this one. Don’t get us wrong; lots of these later RCA pressings are awful: thin, often with no top end at all. Flat transfers perhaps? Who is to say?

Thankfully we don’t judge records by their labels and never have. This record has wonderful sound; the label, and the thickness of the vinyl for that matter, are of no concern to us, and we hope you feel the same way. (You should if you get your VTA setting right!)

RCA is famous for its chamber recordings, which tend to be somewhat rare for some reason. Let’s be honest: we did not conduct this shootout with a dozen copies of the album. (It would take us at least twenty-five years to find that many clean pressings.)

What we had were quite a few other Heifetz RCA chamber recordings, as well as some favorites by the Quartetto Italiano and I Musici that we are very fond of and know well.

After twenty six years [now 35] in business selling vintage vinyl, by now we’ve played scores if not hundreds of good violin recordings. We have no problem recognizing good violin sound (as well as correct violin tone, not exactly the same thing) when we hear it. In the past our top Hot Stamper classical pressings would go directly to our best customers, customers who want classical recordings that actually sound good. not just the kind of Golden Age Recordings that are supposed to. Now that we are able to do classical shootouts on a regular basis, we hope to have enough superb sounding classical recordings for all of our audiophile customers.

I’ve often commented over the years that one should listen to classical music on a regular basis; at least once a week seems about right. I love rock and roll, jazz and all the rest of it, but there is something about classical music that restores a certain balance in your musical life that can’t be accomplished by other means. It grounds your listening experience to something perhaps less immediately gratifying but deeper and more enriching over time. This has been my experience, and with good Hot Stamper classical pressings to play it can surely be yours.

Heifetz, violin / Primrose, viola / Piatigorsky, cello

Side One – Beethoven Trio in D

A++ to A+++, nearly White Hot and (almost) Hard to Fault. The sound is BIG and RICH and, unlike a lot of RCA’s chamber recordings, not too dry. The tonality is Right On The Money. With enough copies we could imagine even more richness (see the Schubert below) so let’s dock a half plus for that and call it nearly White Hot.

Side Two – Bach Sinfonias 4,9 and 3

A+ to A++, a step down for sure, with sound similar to side one but lacking the harmonic richness and clarity that resolve the individual timbres of the three instruments convincingly. Very good sound but not the equal of the best.

Side Two – Schubert Trio No. 2

A+++ and some of the best and most natural sound we heard all day! It’s richer and sweeter. Recorded on a different day when the humidity and temperature were better? Maybe in the morning instead of the afternoon? It doesn’t take much for something to sound a little off in a recording. Here is sound we could not find fault with. It’s glorious!

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