- This exceptionally rare and practically-impossible-to-find-in-audiophile-playing-condition Shaded Dog from 1958 has outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
- The sound on even the best pressings of this album is “good, not great” to these ears
- Plenty of Tubey Magic, utilizing a closer mic setup than many early recordings – this provides more immediacy at the expense of less soundstage depth and width relative to other Hi-Fi Spectaculars from this era
- “R. D. Darrell’s notes for the 1958 stereo LP release state that the three selections were specifically designed for demonstrate the newest heights yet attainable in the never-ending but ever-closer approach to perfect sonic replicas of the original “live” symphonic performances.”
*NOTE: On side one, the first few seconds of track 1, Suite from “Le Coq D’Or” plays Mint Minus Minus to EX++.
This Vintage Living 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 listening live to the Atrthur Fiedler lead the Boston Pops, 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 wonderful classical recording 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 1958
- 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.
What do we love about these Living Stereo Hot Stamper pressings? The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The instruments here are reproduced with remarkable fidelity. Now that’s what we at Better Records mean by “Hi-Fi”, not the kind of Audiophile Phony BS Sound that passes for Hi-Fidelity these days. There’s no boosted top, there’s no bloated bottom, there’s no sucked-out midrange. There’s no added digital reverb (Patricia Barber, Diana Krall, et al.). The microphones are not fifty feet away from the musicians nor are they inches away.
This is Hi-Fidelity for those who recognize The Real Thing when they hear it. I’m pretty sure our customers do, and whoever picks this one up is guaranteed to get a real kick out of it.
What We’re Listening For on Hi-Fi Fiedler and The Boston Pops
- 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 with clear fingering — 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.
Suite From “Le Coq D’Or,” Rimsky-Korsakoff
King Dodon In His Palace
King Dodon On The Battlefield
King Dodon With The Queen Of Shemakha
Overture To “William Tell,” Rossini
Marche Slave, Tchaikovsky
RCA and Fiedler
RCA Victor began recording in multichannel five years before the introduction of the first single-groove stereo LPs in l958. They beganusing two-channel 1/4-inch Ampex decks but soon moved up to three-channel 1/2-inch models as the Mercury Living Presence label had been doing from the start. The idea was to provide the mixing engineers with more flexibility in preparing the final master for production. The center channel signal could be raised slightly in level to bring a solo violin or piano more forward, and/or its signal could be mixed in varying amounts into the left and right channels to achieve a more uniform and balanced stereo soundstage. But also at this time things weren’t completely jelled as to stereo being limited to only two channels. Alan Blumlein had never stated in his original patent that only two channels were required. It was just as easy to make tape heads with three channels as two. But the single-groove stereodisc locked the format into two channels – it was quite impossible to get three channels with the 45/45 system of cutting and playback.
R. D. Darrell’s notes for the l958 stereo LP release state that the three selections were specifically designed for demonstrate the newest heights yet attainable in the never-ending but ever-closer approach to perfect sonic replicas of the original “live” symphonic performances. The first is the nearly half-hour suite from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Le Coq d’or. This composer would easily be the hi-fi choice among 19th-century composers for his kaleidoscopic orchestral colors and drama – a perfect choice for the album. The other two selections of the original LP are the pair of chestnuts, Rossini’s William Tell Overture and Tchaikovsky’s Marche slave. They are also both full of coloristic elements that make the fullest use of the modern symphony orchestra.
Fiedler conducted the Boston Pops for 50 years and became the best-selling conductor in history. He had a lifelong goal of bringing light classical music to the millions. Perhaps he was celebrated more than was his due, but Fiedler did have a way to bringing life and excitement to just about everything he chose to conduct – and he had a catholic and voracious taste for new works.
– John Sunier, audaud.com
Arthur Fiedler was appointed the 18th conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1930. While the position of conductor of the Pops both prior to and after Fiedler tended to be a segment of a conductor’s career, Fiedler made the Pops his life’s work, holding the position for a half-century. The Boston Pops Orchestra is a symphony orchestra that specializes in popular and light classical music. With a combination of musicianship and showmanship, he made the Pops one of the best-known orchestras in the country. Some criticized him for watering down music, particularly when adapting popular songs or edited portions of the classical repertoire, but Fiedler deliberately kept performances informal, light, and often self-mocking to attract more listeners.
Under Fiedler’s direction, the Boston Pops Orchestra reportedly made more recordings than any other orchestra in the world, most of them for RCA Victor, with total sales of albums, singles, tapes, and cassettes exceeding $50 million. His recordings began in July 1935 at Boston’s Symphony Hall with RCA, including a world premiere recording of Jacob Gade’s Jalousie, which eventually sold over a million copies, and the first complete recording of Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin (with Jesús Maria Sanromá as soloist). In 1946, he conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra in one of the first American recordings devoted to excerpts from a film score, Dmitri Tiomkin’s lush music for the David O. Selznick Technicolor epic Duel in the Sun; RCA Victor released an album of ten-inch 78-rpm discs complete with photographs from the film.
Fiedler’s June 20, 1947, recording of Gaîté Parisienne by Jacques Offenbach was eventually released by RCA as their very first long-playing classical album (RCA Victor LM-1001), in 1950. He recorded the same music in 1954 in stereo and began making regular stereo recordings in 1956. A number of Fiedler’s recordings were released as 45-rpm “extended play” discs, beginning in 1949, such as Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slave and Ketèlbey’s In a Persian Market (RCA Victor ERA-2). Besides recording light classics, Fiedler also recorded music from Broadway shows and Hollywood film scores, as well as arrangements of popular music, especially the Beatles. He and the Boston Pops Orchestra occasionally recorded classical works that were favorites, but not considered as “light” as most of the pieces that he conducted. He made but a single recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra: Dvorak’s New World Symphony. There were also recordings of chamber music by his Sinfonietta. Fiedler and the Pops recorded exclusively for RCA Victor until the late 1960’s, when they switched to Deutsche Grammophon for classical releases with co-owned Polydor Records for his arrangements of pop music compositions and then London Records. His last album, devoted to disco, was titled “Saturday Night Fiedler”.
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