- Another stunning classical release makes its Hot Stamper debut, here with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout – just shy of our Shootout Winner
- Our first Hot Stamper for a recording of Wagner’s music – it took us a very long time to find a recording that had the audiophile goods that this one does
- Clear and transparent, with huge hall space extending wall to wall and floor to ceiling, this is a sound that the Modern Reissue fails to reproduce utterly
- If you don’t have an amazing sounding Wagner record — the low brass is to die for here — this record needs to find a home in your collection
- Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – if you need proof, here it is
This vintage London pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 L’Orchestre De La Suisse Romande in Geneva’s Victoria Hall, 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 Ansermet Conduct Wagner 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 1964
- 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 space of the hall
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.
James Lock was the engineer for these sessions in October of 1963 in Geneva’s glorious sounding Victoria Hall. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.
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 their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings 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.
What We’re Listening For on Ansermet Conducts Wagner
- 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 so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
A Must Own Orchestral Record
This Demo Disc Quality recording should be part of any serious Orchestral Music Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
Lohengrin – Prelude Act 1
Götterdämmerung – Siegfried’s Funeral March
Die Meistersinger – Overture
Parsifal – Prelude
Parsifal – Good Friday Music
Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin
LOHENGRIN was Wagner’s first internationally recognized masterpiece and the work that officially announced the arrival of a new operatic genius. Not surprisingly, the story is Nordic in its origin and heroic in its progression. The plot centers on a dispute over ducal succession in the Brabant region of the 10th century German Empire. Elsa is accused of murdering her brother, the rightful heir, and must find a champion to defend her claims of innocence. No one comes so she dreams of a knight in a boat drawn by a swan. The knight soon becomes manifest and agrees to aid her so long as she never asks his name. Too curious, she breaks the rule and he is revealed as Lohengrin, a Knight of the Holy Grail who can only live among men in secret. He departs but not before he restores Elsa’s brother, the swan all along, to human form and the dukedom. The Act I Prelude is a musical depiction of the Holy Grail as it descends to the Earth in the care of an Angelic host. It is a masterfully extended orchestral crescendo that builds to a brilliant climax then settles back into its original elemental murmur. Wagner weaves essentially one theme throughout the Prelude but he asks much of it during the course of the opera’s three acts, using it to speak for Lohengrin, Elsa and even the Grail itself at critical moments in the action.
Parsifal (WWV 111) is an opera in three acts by German composer Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, a 13th-century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival (Percival) and his quest for the Holy Grail (12th century).
Wagner conceived the work in April 1857, but did not finish it until 25 years later. It was his last completed opera, and in composing it he took advantage of the particular acoustics of his Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Parsifal was first produced at the second Bayreuth Festival in 1882. The Bayreuth Festival maintained a monopoly on Parsifal productions until 1903, when the opera was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Wagner described Parsifal not as an opera, but as Ein Bühnenweihfestspiel (“A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage”). At Bayreuth a tradition has arisen that audiences do not applaud at the end of the first act.
Wagner’s spelling of Parsifal instead of the Parzival he had used up to 1877 is informed by one of the theories about the name Percival, according to which it is of Arabic origin, Parsi (or Parseh) Fal meaning “pure (or poor) fool”.