(Royal Gala) Ballet Favorites / Ansermet (VICS-1066) – Reviewed in 2011

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

This RCA Plum Label Victorla has an AMAZING SOUNDING side one — it’s unbelievably spacious and three-dimensional with depth that goes on for DAYS. 

Side one earned its two pluses with the kind of spacious, rich, sweet sound you’ve come to expect from Super Hot Stampers. Note the correct sounding tape hiss — a dead giveaway that the highs are going to be correct. (Funny tape hiss is the hallmark of Classic Records and Mobile Fidelity, a dead giveaway that their highs will be phony and boosted.)

Side two would earn an A++ grade for the Delibes work that starts out the side. The strings are ever so slightly steely compared to side one, but in most respects the two sides sound quite similar. Giselle, the other work on side two, is not as good. It suffers from compressor distortion in the loud passages. It would earn about an A+ grade if we graded the two works separately.

The Vinyl

Plays about Mint Minus Minus, with no marks that play and no Inner Groove Distortion to speak of. Not quiet but the surfaces are tolerable, on our system anyway.

Previous Commentary

Allow me to paraphrase some commentary from the listing we did years ago for our Royal Ballet Hot Stamper:

This is truly DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND if what you are demonstrating is not the merely Hi-Fi, but the relaxed beauty and naturalness of what many consider to be the finest example of Living Stereo Magic brought to the greatest performances of ballet music ever committed to tape.

This record shows off Living Stereo sound at its best. 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 provide an unsatisfactory listening experience on the best modern stereos, all you have to do is play this record for him. No CD has ever sounded like this.

The SORIA Set

The interesting thing about the Royal Gala Ballet Box is how FEW of them sound as good as their press would have you think. And the little shootout we conducted for this set a few years back was evidence of this very fact.

A friend of mine found another copy of the second record, along with a complete set of two LPs, booklet and box. That second record, comprising sides three and four, was MUD. The sides three and four that are part of this collection are wonderful. The same stampers, the same pressing era, and sound that is night and day different.

Of course I’m picking the better of the two LPs for this set, but which one came with the Hot sides one and four? There’s no reason to believe it was the good sounding sides two and three. Face it, there’s no way to know. So the next Ballet Box you buy may have one good sounding record and one bad one. Or two bad ones. (Now you know why we shootout so few double albums. They’re twice as much work.)

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Nutcracker Suite
Carnaval

Side Two

Coppelia
Giselle

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