J.S. Bach – Organ Music Volume 2 / Weinrich

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

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  • With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish, this copy is practically as good as it gets
  • The size and power of a huge organ captured on tape in Living Stereo All Tube Analog
  • The organ is so effortlessly clear and relaxed you will soon forget you are actually sitting in your listening room, not a church
  • For those of you who know your organ recordings on Living Stereo, it’s Volume 2 that clearly has the better sound

Some audiophiles buy organ records to show off their subwoofers. Exceptional pressings of exceptional recordings such as this one will allow you to do that, but the best of them have musical qualities far beyond simple demonstrations of bass fundamentals. Carl Weinrich understands this music perfectly and makes it come alive in a way I’ve rarely heard by other performers.

For those of you who think technology marches on — which of course it does in some ways — this 1963 recording shows that the RCA engineers were capable of capturing the authentic sound of the instrument with the vintage tube equipment available to them. In my opinion they could do it better back in those days.

Musically speaking there aren’t many organists in Carl Weinrich’s class. The only other Bach organ records of this caliber that we know of are the two volumes that Karl Richter recorded for Decca in the mid-’50s. You can’t go wrong with any of them. At least one belongs in any serious audiophile’s collection.

This vintage Shaded Dog Living Stereo 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 sitting in the studio with the band, or in this case sitting in the church seen on the cover, 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 Bach Album 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 1963
  • 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 studio 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.

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 Organ Music Volume 2

  • 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.

Size and Space

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn’t, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.

Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have stumbled upon the copy that sounded so exceptionally open and clear. And how many of even the most dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean vintage pressings with which to do a shootout? These kinds of records are expensive and hard to come by in good shape. Believe us, we know whereof we speak when it comes to getting hold of vintage Living Stereo albums.

When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it’s an entirely different – and dare I say unforgettable — listening experience.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor 
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C

Side Two

Toccata and Fugue in C 
Prelude and Fugue in G