A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.
Side one is White Hot, with some of the best 1959 Living Stereo we’ve ever heard. Explosive dynamics, HUGE space and size, with unerringly correct tonality, this is a Demo Disc like no other. When “in -the-know” audiophiles discuss soundstaging and depth, they had better be talking about a record that sounds like this. Shockingly real – proof positive that the cutting systems of the day are capable of much better sound than we normally assume.
This reasonably quiet RCA Shaded Dog LP has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND on BOTH sides. It is without a doubt THE best sounding copy we have ever heard*.
Your Destination — Stereo!
“Your passport to great music in new sound by the world’s greatest artists.”
This record is designed to show off the Living Stereo sound at its best and it succeeds magnificently. The full range of colors of the orchestra are here presented with remarkable clarity, dynamic contrast, spaciousness, sweetness, and timbral accuracy. If you want to demonstrate to a novice listener why modern recordings are unsatisfactory, all you have to do is play this record for them. No CD ever sounded like this.
Just play Gnomus to hear The Power of the Orchestra, Living Stereo style.
The fourth and fifth movements of Capriccio Espagnol, the second track on side one, sound superb, CLEARLY better here than on the Shaded Dog pressings we played about a year ago (which were terrible and never made it to the site. Great performance but bad mastering of what obviously must be recognized as a very good master tape).
You can also hear the Living Stereo sound especially well on the excerpt from “The Fourth of July” performed by Morton Gould. It’s one of the best sounding tracks here.
I don’t think the RCA engineers can cut this record much better — it has all the Living Stereo magic one could ask for, as well as the bass and dynamics that are missing from so many other vintage Golden Age records.
This is as good as it gets, folks.
The State of Reviewing
Even twenty years ago reviewers noted that tracks on compilations such as this had better sound than the albums from which they were taken, proof that they were listening critically and comparing pressings. What happened to reviewers of that calibre?
I can tell you what happened to them: they left audio, driven out according to the principle that underlies Gresham’s Law: bad reviewers drive out good ones. Which leaves you with the type that can’t tell how truly awful most modern Heavy Vinyl Reissues are. A sad state of affairs if you ask me, but one that no longer impacts our business as we simply don’t bother to buy, sell or play most of them.
Played Versus Heard
*Please note that we should — but too often don’t — make a vitally important distinction between two words we tend to use interchangeably on the site. There is an important difference between the sound of records that we’ve playedand the sound that we’ve heard.
The stereo, the listening room, our cleaning technologies and who knows what else are all undergoing constant changes. This means that we may have played a better pressing in the past but couldn’t hear it sound as good as it does now. The regular improvements we make in all areas of playback make sonic comparisons over time all but meaningless.
Artur Rubinstein, piano
Boston Pops conducted by Arthur Fiedler
RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kiril Kondrashin
Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Fritz Reiner
Morton Gould and his Orchestra
Symphony of the Air conducted by Alfred Wallenstein
Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Munch
Gayne Ballet Suite: Sabre Dance
Rimsky-Korsakoff – Capriccio Espagnol: 4th and 5th Movements
Moussorgsky- Ravel – Pictures At An Exhibition: Gnomus
Adler-Ross – Hernando’s Hideaway (from the musical “The Pajama Game”)
Prokofieff – Lieutenant Kije: Troika
Aaron Copland – Rodeo: Hoe-Down
Saint-Saens – Piano Concerto No. 2: 2nd Movement
Morton Gould – Fourth Of July
Berlioz – Overture To The Roman