_Composers – Berlioz

Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Fourestier – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

More Symphonie Fantastique / Fourestier 

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

This obscure French label stereo reissue of an original Omega recording from the ’60s is SUPERB SOUNDING, without a doubt the best sound I have ever heard for the work. (The stereo is much better these days than it was years ago when we auditioned other pressings, so comparisons with those other, older records are practically pointless.)

And the performance is Top Notch as well; I know of none better. (more…)

Music Of Berlioz / Martinon

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

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

This English Stereo Treasury pressing (on an odd lookinig Orange label, with handwritten stampers I have never seen before) has a SUPERB side two and side one is almost as good! The original release is London CS 6101 and I doubt most copies of it would sound this good.

This is Classic Old School Decca sound, rich and smooth with an exceptionally wide and deep soundstage. All the instruments are clear and have good texture, which is what one rarely hears on the most early pressings, which tend to be thick and dark. A little more top and this side two would have earned the full Three Pluses. (more…)

Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Bernstein – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

More of the music written or performed by Leonard Bernstein 

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

And this one comes complete with the bonus 7″ entitled “Berlioz Takes a Trip” in which Bernstein explores the work “with musical illustrations by the New York Philharmonic”.

This work is difficult to fit onto a single LP, clocking in at around 45 minutes, which means that the mastering engineer has three options when cutting the record: compress the dynamics, lower the level, or filter the deep bass. On this side two it seems that none of those approaches were taken by the engineer who cut this record in the early ’80s — there’s plenty of bass, as well as powerful dynamics, and the levels seem fine. How he do it? Beats me. Glad he did though!

Side one is bass shy, however. Did the engineer filter out the lower frequencies, or is it just a case of pressing variation being the culprit. Who can say? If we had many more copies with these same stampers for side one, all with less bass, we might be able to draw a conclusion about that, one that is highly probable but of course not provable. The very next copy we might find with those stampers could have plenty of bass. Then we would be forced to say that our highly probable theory had been falsified conclusively. So much for theories.

Which is one of the main reasons we avoid them. We play the records to find out how they sound, we don’t feel the need to theorize about them much. We think the audiophile community would be better served by more critical listening and less theorizing and opining. (more…)