Liszt, Khatchaturian et al. / Fiedler / BPO

More Franz Liszt’s music

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

Breathtaking 1961 Living Stereo sound on side two – huge, open and Tubey Magical as all get out. Living Stereo Hot Stampers mean the hall is huge, the strings rich and sweetly textured. Vaughan Williams’ arrangement of Fantasia On “Greensleeves” is especially lovely here. Fiedler and his Boston Pops play these 8 shorter pieces with great gusto and skill. 

This Shaded Dog had precisely the right sound on side two, and very close to that sound on side one, making some of the best sound we have ever heard on this album. I’ve known about this recording for twenty years or more; it’s taken us a while to get around to it, there being so many wonderful (and frankly more famous) Fiedler records to play in the pipeline.

There are other recordings with Fiedler at the helm from 1961 but this is clearly the best of the batch, some of them being not very good at all, or good only intermittently. Practically every track on this title is excellent and some of them are superb. Take home this copy and you will quickly see what I mean.

Side Two

White Hot and superb on practically every level. Rich, clear, undistorted, open, spacious, with depth and transparency like few recordings you may have heard, the music flows from the speakers effortlessly. You are there.

The brass and string sections of the music are almost never brash or shrill, something that no other side could manage.

Side One

Gorgeous! Rich strings, lots of Tubey Magic, plenty of weight, and space enough for a full orchestra to be transported right into your very own listening room.

Dancing Through The Years, a medley of dance hits performed with verve, has some of the best sound on the side.

The Golden Age

We ran into a number of copies of this title that had what we like to call that “Old Record” sound, which is surprisingly common on even the most revered Golden Age labels, RCA included.

No top, no real bottom, congested climaxes and an overall shrillness to the sound — we’ve played Living Stereos that have these shortcomings by the dozens. Many audiophiles may be impressed by the average Shaded Dog pressing, but I can assure you that we here at Better Records are decidedly not of that persuasion. Something in the range of ten to fifteen per cent of the major label Golden Age recordings we play will eventually make it to the site. The vast majority just don’t sound all that good to us.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Liebestraum / Composed By – Franz Liszt 
Gayne Ballet Suite: Lullaby / Composed By – Khatchaturian
Moonglow And The Theme From “Picnic” 
Dancing Through The Years 

Side Two

Jalousie / Composed By – Gade
Fantasia On “Greensleeves” / arr. Vaughan Williams 
Hernando’s Hideaway / Written-By – Jerry Ross, Richard Adler
The Bohemian Girl: Overture / Composed By – Balfe

High Fidelity on Fiedler, 1960

Nowhere in the world is there surer guarantee of more richly varied musical delights than that promised by this conductor’s precise baton, his infallible ear and memory, the prodigious range of his taste, his interpretative verve. Yes, outside Boston at least, the fabulous Fiedlerian success story tends to be taken for granted. His distinctive role as symphonic spokesman to mass audiences is one calculated in win popular adulation. It also earns ultrasophisticates’ supercilious disdain for “mere routine.”

Of course Fiedler can afford to laugh all the way to the bank at such snobbery; yet he is too well grounded a “straight” musician and too sincere an artist to be unaware of the high price that seemingly must always be paid for wide popular acclaim. The Fiedler “image” is well known; it is quite possible that it obscures the true nature of the man himself.

Vintage Recordings – WTLF

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack some of the harmonic information which they produce naturally.

Tube smear is common to most pressings from the late ’50s and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich. (Full sound is especially critical to the horns; any blare, leanness or squawk ruins much of the fun, certainly at the loud levels the record should be playing at.)

Which brings up a point that needs making. The tonality of this record is correct when it is playing loud. The trumpets do not get harsh at loud volumes the way they will on, say, a Chicago record. The timbre of the instruments is correct when loud, which means that it was mixed loud to sound correct when loud.

The frequency extremes (on the best copies) are not boosted in any way. When you play this record quietly, the bottom and top will disappear (due to the way the ear handles quieter sounds as described by the Fletcher-Munson curve).