This is one of the ALL TIME GREAT violin concerto records. In Ruggiero Ricci’s hands both works are nothing short of magical. If you want to know why people drool over Golden Age recordings, listen to the violin. Careful, when you hear it you may find yourself drooling too.
The staging of the orchestra and violin is exactly the way we want to hear it in our heads. Whether it would really sound this way in a concert hall is impossible to say — concert halls all sound different — but the skill and the emotion of the playing is communicated beautifully on this LP. This is a sweetheart of a record, full of the Tubey Magic for which London recordings are justly famous.
As we noted above, engineering took place in the legendary Kingsway Hall. There is a richness to the sound of the strings that is exceptional, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least.
It’s practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years (and this of course includes practically everything pressed on Heavy Vinyl). It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful vintage pressings to play, it’s an art that is not being lost on us.
It’s also as wide, deep and three-dimensional as any, which is, of course, all to the good, but what makes the sound of these recordings so special is the timbral accuracy of the instruments in every section.
I don’t think the Decca engineers could have cut this record any better — it has all the orchestral magic one could ask for, as well as the resolving power, clarity and presence that are missing from so many Golden Age records.
This is the kind of record that will make you want to take all your heavy vinyl classical pressings and put them in storage. They cannot begin to sound the way this record sounds. (Before you put them in storage or on Ebay, please play them against this pressing so that you can be confident in your decision to rid yourself of their insufferable mediocrity.)
VTA and the Violin
This is truly The Perfect Turntable setup disc. When your VTA, azimuth, tracking weight and anti-skate are correct, this is the record that will make it clear to you that your efforts have paid off.
What to listen for you ask? With the proper adjustment the harmonics of the strings will sound extended and correct, neither hyped up nor dull; the wood body of the instrument will be more audibly “woody”; the fingering at the neck will be noticeable but will not call attention to itself in an unnatural way. In other words, as you adjust your setup, the violin will sound more and more right.
And you can’t really know how right it can sound until you go through hours of experimentation with all the forces that affect the way the needle rides the groove. Without precise VTA adjustment there is almost no way this record will do everything it’s capable of doing. There will be hardness, smear, sourness, thinness — something will be off somewhere. With total control over your arm and cartridge setup, these problems will all but vanish. (Depending on the quality of the equipment of course.)
We harp on all aspects of reproduction for a reason. When you have done the work, records like this sound GLORIOUS.