_Composers – Beethoven

Beethoven / Symphony #6 (Pastoral) / Ansermet

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

Beethoven / Symphony #6 (Pastoral) / Ansermet 

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

In our opinion this is the best sounding Beethoven 6th Symphony ever recorded. It is the most beautiful of them all, and has long been my personal favorite of the nine Beethoven composed.

Ansermet’s performance is clearly definitive to my ear as well. The gorgeous hall the Suisse Romande recorded in was possibly the best recording venue of its day, possibly of all time; more amazing sounding recordings were made there than any other hall we know of. There is a richness to the sound that exceeds all others, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least. (more…)

Beethoven/ Piano Concerto No. 3 – Gamba

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

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

CS 6096 Blueback LP. This is one of the RAREST and BEST Londons I have ever heard. I think this is the first copy I ever played and it’s absolutely WONDERFUL. The sound is London at its best. What’s especially striking is the quality of the piano — it’s absolute perfection. The quiet vinyl actually lets you hear the quietest piano parts clearly, no mean feat when it comes to Golden Age recordings. I don’t know of a better Beethoven 3rd — this one sets the standard for me.

 

Beethoven / Quartet in C-Sharp Minor / Julliard String Quartet

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

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

This RCA White Dog pressing contains what many consider to be Beethoven’s greatest string quartet, with SUPERB better than Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides, each of which rated grades of A++ to A+++. The reason we held back on the full Three Plus White Hot Stamper designation is simple: each side had slightly more of a fairly important quality that the other side lacked. When you play this record at home see if you don’t agree with us that this is an AMAZING sounding chamber music record, with minor, albeit recognizable and appreciable, differences in its strengths on each side. (more…)

Beethoven / Violin Concerto / Heifetz

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

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

This White Dog Living Stereo pressing has SUPERB sound on side one. It’s alive and immediate in a way that the Shaded Dogs almost never are. Listen to the violin! Again, the Classic pressing of this recording does not present the listener with the sound of a real, wood instrument bowed by horsehair in physical space. This copy does.

The White Dog pressing we are offering here is not as rich as the better Shaded Dog pressings we played in our shootout but in some ways the brighter, more forward presentation actually works to its advantage.

It becomes a real showpiece for Heifetz’s mastery of the violin, so clear and immediate is the sound.

The Living Stereo/ Boston Symphony string tone is excellent, although it can be a little dry in spots and occasionally can become edgy in the loudest sections. (more…)

Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

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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…)

Beethoven / Symphony #7 / Reiner – Reviewed in 2011

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

This somewhat rare and fairly quiet White Dog pressing has lovely vintage Golden Age sound from 1958, comparable to the sound you hear on many early Londons and RCAs from that era.

On both sides the famous Living Stereo soundstage is wide and deep as usual.

On side one the strings are quite nice, textured and rich, but somewhat lacking in harmonic extension and congested in the louder passages. This is commonly the case with these late ’50s recordings.

On side two there is less smear and therefore even better texture to the strings for the second half of the symphony, and the coupling work, the Fidelio Overture, is even better still! (more…)

Beethoven / Symphony #4 / Monteux

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

BOTH sides of this early Plum Label Victrola pressing earned a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade, with the kind of string tone only found on the best of the Living Stereo releases and other top quality Golden Age recordings. Here is the kind of sound that Classic Records could not ignore, even though it was only ever made available as part of RCA’s budget reissue series, Victrola. Don’t let its budget status fool you — this pressing puts to shame most of what came out on the full price Living Stereo label.

And Monteux is once again superb. (This week we also listed his Tchaikovsky 6th recording with the Boston Symphony. Two finer records have rarely made it to the site on the same day. And both budget releases to boot.)

We played a large group of Beethoven’s symphonies this week and this was clearly one of the best, if not THE best. Well recorded Beethoven is hard to come by. The box sets we played were mediocre at best, and that left us with only a handful of clean early pressings. These records just aren’t out there like they used to be. (more…)

Beethoven / Symphonies 8 & 9 – Giulini – Reviewed in 2005

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

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

SLS 841. Two fairly quiet (for EMI anyway) LPs with BIG SOUND — the kind of sound this work demands. This is obviously a huge orchestra and chorus. It sure sounds like it anyway. The production is first class all the way. The soloists sound particularly real, surrounded by dozens of other musicians in a big hall. I like the way Giulini plays this as well.

 

Beethoven / Haydn / The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts

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

This is a lovely sounding Red Seal pressing of cello and violin, with smooth, natural, tonally correct sound and correctly sized instruments, something you don’t hear often on recordings with Heifetz. They tend to have huge violins and small orchestras. In these chamber works perhaps the engineers had an easier time of getting it right. The sound is transparent, spacious and three-dimensional in the best Living Stereo tradition.

If you love the sound of the violin and cello, played by virtuosos of the highest order, this is the record for you. (more…)