Sonic Grade: C (at best)
I found a bit of commentary in a listing for Scheherazade, and right away it was clear to me that the shootout we did for that title had much in common with the one we did recently for The Pines of Rome.
Here it is with the necessary changes having been made.
We did a monster shootout for this music in 2021, one we had been planning for more than twenty years. On hand were quite a few copies of the Reiner on RCA; the Ansermet on London; the Maazel on Decca and London (the Decca being on the TAS List), the Kempe on Readers Digest, and quite a few others we felt had potential.
The only recordings that held up all the way through — the last movement being a real Ball Breaker, for both the engineers and musicians — were those by Reiner and Kempe. This was disappointing considering how much time and money we spent finding, cleaning and playing about twenty or so other pressings.
We learned from that first big go around something that we think will remain true for the foreseeable future: the 1960 Reiner recording with the Chicago Symphony on RCA just can’t be beat.
Could other pressings be better sounding? Of course they could.
Would we ever buy another copy? Not a chance.
Here are the notes for the Decca pressing I played, mastered by G, Ted Burkett.
If you find a good one, please let me know the stampers so I can go out and find one myself.
The above is of course all in good fun. We both know that there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that anyone reading this commentary is going to go out and buy some Decca pressings of The Pines of Rome, clean them up and critique them.
The most likely thing is that, if you have any Decca pressing of Maazel’s Pines, it’s sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Odds are it has not been played in a very long time.
Which is as it should be. Good records get played and bad ones sit on shelves.
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