_Composers – Bach

Ohm Stereo Imaging Demonstration Record – Reviewed in 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Ohm LP has tracks from some of the world’s finest superdisks such as Flamenco Fever, Hot Stix and For Duke. It also includes various selections from Vanguard. The last copy I played had SUPERB sound. A special note is the first track on side two performed by the PDQ Bach Ensemble — it’s truly DEMONSTRATION QUALITY. 

The record is pressed on Teldec Virgin Vinyl. The back cover features extensive liner notes, explaining what to listen for on each of these unique selections.

JS Bach / Suites for Solo – Cello Two and Five / Starker (SR90370) – Reviewed in 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

EXCELLENT CELLO REPRODUCTION and MOSTLY QUIET VINYL on side one, where you get Bach’s entire Suite No. 2 for Unaccompanied Cello. Side two has excellent sound as well but the vinyl is noisy so take this one at a bargain price and hear how wonderful solo cello can sound when recorded and mastered for maximum effect, live in your listening room!

The sound of Starker’s cello here is HUMONGOUS — it’ll fill up your room, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling! It’s also tonally correct from top to bottom, a quality we heard on NONE of the new Mercury heavy vinyl reissues. The cutting is super low distortion on this later label copy as well. This copy will show you in short order why these Starker Mercury records are so highly prized.

These Starker records are legendary for their sound, not to mention Starker’s way with this music. If anybody can make Bach’s solo cello pieces capture your interest, Starker can. (more…)

Bach, Mendelssohn, Widor / Discovery / Welch

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This is an INCREDIBLY RARE Wilson Audio LP in IMMACULATE condition, with works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Widor and others. Click on the images of the record labels for a full track listing. This is actually an amazing sounding record. I’ve owned a copy for over 20 years. It’s some of the best sounding organ music with the deepest bass I’ve ever heard.

Debussy / Clair de Lune / Agoult – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This Shaded Dog LP has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND, if what you’re demonstrating is not a Hi-Fi spectacular, but rather a sublime presentation of a truly sweet and natural string section of an orchestra, presented here on analog disc created more than fifty years ago.  

I can’t imagine a more beautiful record, both in terms of the programme and the sound. This record is a wonderful example of what the Decca recording engineers were able to capture on tape, and the RCA mastering engineers were able to master from tape. (more…)

Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This Red Seal pressing of the famous 1961 recording (LSC 2563) has SUBLIME White Hot Stamper sound for one of the works contained herein, the Schubert. It’s so rich and sweet you may have a hard time believing it’s on a Red Seal LP. The originals we’ve played over the years sure never sounded like this! Perhaps it’s the thin vinyl that contributed to the shockingly good sound. Maybe, just maybe, RCA was right to start pressing thinner records in the ’70s. If they can sound this good, we should all be for it.

So often when we do these shootouts involving original pressings up against their reissue counterparts, it’s the reissues that sound rich, warm and tubey, and the originals that sound dry and boxy. If you haven’t noticed that in your own critical listening, play this record against any shaded dogs that you own and see which one is more Tubey Magical.

If you have your VTA set right, you might be shocked to find it’s this one. Don’t get us wrong; lots of these later RCA pressings are awful: thin, often with no top end at all. Flat transfers perhaps? Who is to say? (more…)

Bach / Glenn Gould Plays Bach

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This 3 LP set on the early White Arrows 360 Label has three sides that earned sonic grades of Super Hot or better, with two sides being White Hot and pretty darn amazing for an old Columbia pressing (Columbia being an egregiously bad label when it comes to the sound of their classical records).

This set is highly regarded in classical circles and does not sit in the used record bins for cheap, even in reissue form, which limits our ability to find them and try them. On top of that there are six sides to play for every copy, so if is very unlikely we will be able to find a better copy for you down the road than this one anytime soon. The surfaces are about Mint Minus Minus, not bad for a solo piano record but not exactly quiet either. (more…)

JS Bach / Mozart – Two Violin Concertos

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This original plum label Victrola pressing from 1965 has SUPERB sound on both sides. The Bach piece is a rich tapestry of strings spread across the stage and clearly separated left to right. There’s not much depth but that seems of little consequence; all the instruments are heard in their proper space and location. The tonality is right on the money throughout.

The Mozart concerto starts out sounding a bit opaque, but about an inch or so into the side it opens up wonderfully, with sweet, spacious, natural sound from there on out. Jaime Laredo plays both works superbly, and the Living Stereo quality sound brings his playing to life in a way that few recordings can.

Although never released as a real LSC, this Victrola pressing is every bit the equal of most of the better Living Stereo pressings. (more…)

JS Bach / The Fox Touch, Volume 1

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[This review was written in 2010. Since then I have played copies of these Crystal Clear organ recordings and been much less impressed. The ambience is a fraction of what it should be, and the reason I know that is that the vintage organ recordings I play have dramatically more size and space than these audiophile pressings do. Live and Learn.]

Are we changing our tune about Audiophile records? Not in the least; we love the ones that sound right. The fact that so few of them do is not our fault.  (more…)

Bach The Goldberg Variations – Glenn Gould

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

Interesting record. The first side sounds about like what one would expect from an old Columbia six-eye mono piano recording — not bad but not particularly good either, with a tonally correct but rather small and distant piano in the middle of a big room.

Imagine our surprise and delight when we flipped the record over and heard a shockingly ROBUST, CLEAR and PRESENT piano, sounding pretty much — if one were to close one’s eyes — like a real piano in a practice hall. We call it at least Super Hot Stamper sound. Without more copies to compare it to, this may be for all practical purposes As Good As It Gets.

We are not always enamored of original vintage pressings, but in this case, on at least side two, we heard the sound we were looking for. It’s doubtful we would hear that sound on many of the reissues. We’ve played a few and they sure never sounded like this! (more…)

Bach Organ Music – Richter on Vintage London Vinyl, in Stereo, from 1954 (!)

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This London Whiteback pressing of CS 6173 has SUPERB SOUND! Like its brother, CS 6172, recorded by Richter in 1954, probably on the same day, the sound of this early stereo 2 mic recording is amazingly spacious and rich.

Here’s what I wrote about CS 6172: (more…)