This lovely Mercury Golden Import LP not only has Super Hot Stamper sound on side one, which is where Gaite Parisienne can be found, but it also boasts one of the greatest performances of the piece ever recorded.
Dorati is surely The Man when it comes to energy, drive and dynamic excitement with this venerable warhorse. He and his Minneapolis Symphony play the hell out of this boisterous music, and luckily for us audiophiles, the Mercury engineers give us Demonstration Quality Sound to go with it.
The original Mercury release of this record (90016) is a shrill piece of trash, as is the Mercury Wing pressing. So many of the early Mercurys were poorly mastered it seems.
We audiophiles must wait for reissues (either by Mercury or in this case by Philips once they had bought Mercury) to show us how good the sound of a particular recording might actually be. [Not sure I would agree with most of that now in 2022.]
Of course what you really need is the right copy to know ultimately how good the recording can be, and to find it you might have to clean and play ten LPs, or more. That’s where we come in.
The last time I played the Classic of LSC 1817 I thought it was a smeary mess, as awful as their awful Scheherazade (both shamefully on the TAS List as I recall). If I were to play it today I’m guessing it would end up as yet another Classic entry in our Hall of Shame. I love Fiedler’s performance and the 1954 two track RCA Living Stereo sound but finding an original Shaded Dog pressing in clean condition under $500 with the right stampers (something above 10 as I recall) is all but impossible nowadays. If you want to go that way more power to you.
Super Hot Stamper (A++) sound makes this THE Gaite Parisienne to Own. (If you have a hot copy of LSC 1817 consider yourself very fortunate. If your copy of LSC 1817 has never thrilled you, then this pressing will beat the pants off it, as it is pretty darn THRILLING.
It’s clear, clean and above all, TRANSPARENT. (A claim no modern remastered record, in our opinion, can make.) The energy is wonderful on this side. Not only that, but listen to the bite of the brass — that’s some high-rez sound!
Not quite as good as side one, we grade the Graduation Ball A+ to A++. It’s a bit thinner, not as warm, and the loud passages can become somewhat congested. Still, very good sound and the music is lovely if you are a fan of Strauss.
Nice and quiet as one would naturally expect. Few pressings from the ’50s and ’60s are ever going to be this quiet.
A Good Test
This is also an excellent record to test with. As you no doubt know, there is a lot of “action” in this piece of music. To get the strings and the brass to sound lively yet natural is a bit of a trick. When I first played this record years ago, I was none too happy about the string tone. After making a few tweaky adjustments, the strings became much clearer and more textured. The overall presentation still sounded rich but was now more natural.
It was this record that made me realize some of the changes I had made to my stereo back then had caused it to have a certain hi-fi-ish quality, which seemed to work fine on the popular and jazz recordings I was using to test at the time.
But playing classical music is the ultimate challenge for any stereo. And this record was telling me I wasn’t getting it right. I’m happy to report that things are sounding wonderful now, on every kind of record: jazz, rock and especially on excellent classical recordings such as this one.
Gaite Parisienne (Offenbach)
Graduation Ball (Strauss)