Paganini – Kreisler / Concerto In One Movement / Campoli – Reviewed in 2019 and 2008

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  • This exceptionally rare early London pressing features Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER and includes a wonderful performance of the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3
  • This is a spectacular recording – it’s big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic, and is guaranteed to put to shame any Heavy Vinyl pressing of orchestral music you own
  • Campoli brings his warmth, feeling, and technical precision to these classical masterpieces
  • The Decca engineers captured the correct amount of detail in the bowing and fingering – it’s not overdone as it is in so many records that many audiophiles prefer, with the mics much too close to the strings

This is a WONDERFUL sounding violin concerto recording. It has TUBEY MAGIC as well as MUSIC to die for. What”s most interesting about the sound is how well the violin is integrated into the orchestra. On most RCAs, just to pick one golden age label to use as an example, the violin is typically hugely oversized and placed far in front of the orchestra. Not so here. The violin is of a whole with the orchestra, which makes for a much more natural and relaxed presentation.

The orchestra is a bit compressed, something engineers of the day were fond of doing. The violin tone however, as well as its dynamic contrasts, are PERFECTION. This is a Decca recording and the keyword here is NATURAL. So musical and involving too. All in all a lovely record.

This vintage London Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are live to The London Symphony, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of this classical delight have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1957
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional recording space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Critically Important Adjustments (for Critical Listeners)

This is an excellent record for adjusting tracking weight, VTA, azimuth and the like. Classical music is really the ultimate test for proper turntable/arm/cartridge setup (and evaluation). A huge and powerful recording such as this quickly separates the men from the boys stereo-wise. Recordings of this quality are the reason there are $10,000+ front ends in the first place. You don’t need to spend that kind of money to play this record, but if you do, this is the record that will show you what you got for your hard-earned money.

Ideally you would want to work your setup magic at home with this record, then take it to a friend’s house and see if you can achieve the same results. I’ve done this sort of thing for years. Sadly, not so much anymore; nobody I know can play records like these the way we can. Playing and critically evaluating records all day, every day, year after year, you get pretty good at it. And the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Properly set VTA is especially critical on this record, as it is on most classical recordings. The smallest change will dramatically affect the timbre, texture and harmonic information of the strings, as well as the rest of instruments of the orchestra.

What We’re Listening For on these classical sides

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic that is a key part of the appeal of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

Fritz Kreisler

Fritz Kreisler, (born Feb. 2, 1875, Vienna, Austria—died Jan. 29, 1962, New York, N.Y., U.S.), Austrian-born violinist who was a “secret” composer of short violin pieces.

At age seven Kreisler entered the Vienna Conservatory, and from 1885 to 1887 he studied composition and violin at the Paris Conservatory. After a successful concert tour of the United States (1888–89), he returned to Vienna to study medicine. He subsequently studied art in Paris and Rome and served as an officer in the Austrian army. In 1899 he returned to the stage as a concert violinist and became one of the most successful virtuosos of his time.

Kreisler’s technique was characterized by an intensive vibrato and an economy in bowing. In 1910 he gave the first performance of Sir Edward Elgar’s Violin Concerto, dedicated to him. After 1915 he lived mainly in the United States but continued to tour widely in Europe. His concert programs frequently included many short pieces by him, among them “Caprice Viennois” (“Viennese Caprice”) and “Schön Rosmarin” (“Pretty Rosemary”). His Classical Manuscripts, published as his arrangements of works by Antonio Vivaldi, François Couperin, Johann Stamitz, Padre Martini, and others, were admitted in 1935 to be works of his own.

britannica.com


Alfredo Campoli

The Italian-born English violinist, Alfredo Campoli (often known simply as Campoli), (born October 30, 1906 – Rome, Italy—died March 27, 1991 – Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, England), was born into a musical family. His father was leader of the Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, taught the violin and was Alfredo’s first teacher. His mother was a dramatic soprano who had toured with Scotti and Caruso, but a retired performer at the time of Campoli’s birth. His family moved to England in 1911, and 5 years later Campoli was already giving public concerts. In 1919 he entered the London Music Festival and won the gold medal for his performance of the Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Campoli made his professional debut in a recital at the Wigmore Hall in 1923. He toured with such singers as Dame Nellie Melba and Dame Clara Butt…

Alfredo Campoli was noted for the beauty of the tone he produced from the violin. He considered the phrasing of each passage he played and if he could achieve ‘bel canto’ by shortening or lengthening a note then he would do so. He was not afraid to lift the bow from the strings, an act that seems to be completely avoided today. Brief breaks of sound can add tremendous drama and power to a performance, even when not indicated by the composer…

bach-cantatas.com

 

OUR OLD REVIEW FOR A COPY FROM 2008

This is a WONDERFUL sounding violin concerto recording. It has TUBEY MAGIC as well as MUSIC to die for. What”s most interesting about the sound is how well the violin is integrated into the orchestra. On most RCAs, just to pick one golden age label to use as an example, the violin is typically hugely oversized and placed far in front of the orchestra. Not so here. The violin is of a whole with the orchestra, which makes for a much more natural and relaxed presentation. 

The orchestra is a bit compressed, something engineers of the day were fond of doing. The violin tone however, as well as its dynamic contrasts, are PERFECTION. The detail in the bowing and fingering is just right — not overdone as in so many records that audiophiles like, with the mics right on top of the strings. This is a Decca recording and the keyword here is NATURAL. So musical and involving too. All in all a lovely record.

The record also features Saint-Saens – Concerto No. 3 in B Minor for Violin and Orchestra.