- An outstanding pressing of Heifetz’s amazing 1958 recording for RCA in glorious Living Stereo sound, earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
- A superb pressing, with lovely richness, warmth, and real immediacy throughout – the overall sound is rich, sweet and Tubey Magical
- Heifetz is a fiery player – this pressing will allow you to hear the subtleties of his bowing in a coherent, natural and realistic way
- The texture and harmonic overtones of the strings are near perfection – as we listened we became completely immersed in the music on the record, transfixed by the remarkable virtuosity he brings to this difficult and demanding work
- There are about 100 orchestral recordings that offer the discriminating audiophile pressings with the Best Performances and Top Quality Sound. This record has earned a place on that list.
For those of you who have only heard the Classic pressing, you are in for a world of better sound. The Classic is both aggressive and lacking in texture at the same time, the worst of both worlds. Bernie’s cutting system is what I would call Low Resolution — the harmonics and subtleties of the sound simply disappear.
We write about it on our blog, under the heading Bernie Grundman’s Work for Classic Records in Four Words: Hard, Sour, Colored and Crude. Search for it if you would like to know more.
This vintage RCA Victor 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 Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto Masterpiece 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 1958
- 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.
Better Front Ends
I would make the further point that the better your front end is the less likely you are to have a problem with vinyl like this, which is the opposite of what many audiophiles perceive to be the case. In other words, some of the cheaper tables and carts seem to make the surface noise more objectionable, not less. On the other hand, some pricey cartridges — the Benz line comes to mind — are consistently noisier than those by Dynavector, Lyra and others, in our experience anyway.
Either way, you must be happy with the record. If not we will happily take it back.
What We’re Listening For on Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto
- 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 and maybe a bit better 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.
A Must Own Violin Recording by a True Master
This wonderful violin concerto — one of the greatest ever composed — should be part of any serious Living Stereo Classical Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
First Movement: Allegro moderato
Second Movement: Canzonetta: Andante
Third Movement: Finale: Allegro vivacissimo