- An outstanding copy of this wonderful Columbia recording – you’ll find solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish on this pressing
- This copy showed us the balance of clarity and sweetness we were looking for in the violin and cello – not many Columbia recordings from this era can do that
- This recording is big, clear, transparent and energetic, and is guaranteed to put to shame any Heavy Vinyl classical pressing you own
- Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – here’s the proof
This vintage Columbia 360 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, 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 Release 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 1960
- 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 Brahms Concerto for Violin and Cello
- 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.
- 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.
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 other 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 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.
360 Sound (According to Our Friends at Columbia)
Stereo “360 SOUND” represents the ultimate in listening enjoyment. Every aspect of recording activity has been carefully supervised by Columbia’s engineers and craftsmen, using the very latest electronic equipment. Stereo “360 SOUND” creates the effect of surrounding the listener with glorious, true-to-life active sound. It is as if one were sitting in the first row center at an actual performance.
Columbia’s studios have been designed with uniform sound characteristics and are equipped with sixteen-channel consoles and custom-calibrated multi-track tape machines engineered and built to Columbia’s own specifications. The microphones used are chosen for their individual sound properties depending upon the orchestration, the artist and the concept of the producer of the recording. Some of the microphones are: the Sony C37A; Telefunken-Neumann’s U67, U47, M49B, KM54A, KM56; the AKG’s C60, C12 and Electro Voice 655C. Only high-output tape affording maximum signal to noise ratio is used. Such tape, of great tensile strength and thickness, additionally aids in the elimination of print-through and reduction of distortion and hiss.
The reduction of the original multi-track tape to the final master tape is performed on editing consoles hand-tooled by Columbia’s engineering staff to accommodate any number of channels. The transfer of master tape to master lacquer is made via a Westrex or Ortofon cutter installed on a Scully lathe equipped with automatic variable pitch and electronic depth controls. Before production is begun, a master pressing is compared to the final tape (A-B checked). It is only after the recording has passed this critical test that Columbia’s engineers give the final approval for manufacture, secure in the knowledge that each Stereo “360 SOUND” disc will have the same full-bodied, multi-dimensional sound as that originally recorded in the studio.
Concerto In A Minor For Violin, Cello And Orchestra, Op. 120
Vivace Non Troppo
Tragic Overture, Op. 81
Brahms Concerto in A Minor
The Double Concerto was Brahms’ final work for orchestra. It was composed in the summer of 1887, and first performed on 18 October of that year in the Gürzenich [de] in Cologne, Germany. Brahms approached the project with anxiety over writing for instruments that were not his own. He wrote it for the cellist Robert Hausmann, a frequent chamber music collaborator, and his old but estranged friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. The concerto was, in part, a gesture of reconciliation towards Joachim, after their long friendship had ruptured following Joachim’s divorce from his wife Amalie. (Brahms had sided with Amalie in the dispute.)
The concerto makes use of the musical motif A–E–F, a permutation of F–A–E, which stood for a personal motto of Joachim, Frei aber einsam (“free but lonely”). Thirty-four years earlier, Brahms had been involved in a collaborative work using the F-A-E motif in tribute to Joachim: the F-A-E Sonata of 1853.
Brahms Tragic Overture
The Tragic Overture (German: Tragische Ouvertüre), Op. 81, is a concert overture for orchestra written by Johannes Brahms during the summer of 1880. It premiered, under Hans Richter, on 26 December 1880 in Vienna. Eight days later, it was repeated at the University of Breslau on a program with the premiere of the Academic Festival Overture. Most performances last between twelve and fifteen minutes.
Brahms chose the title “tragic” to emphasize the turbulent, tormented character of the piece, in essence a free-standing symphonic movement, in contrast to the mirthful ebullience of a companion piece he wrote the same year, the Academic Festival Overture. Despite its name, the Tragic Overture does not follow any specific dramatic program. Brahms summed up the effective difference in character between the two overtures when he declared “one laughs while the other cries.”