_Composers – Borodin

Borodin / Symphonies 2 & 3 / Ansermet – Speakers Corner Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: C?

A decent Speakers Corner Decca.

The Speakers Corner heavy vinyl reissue of this title is not bad, but like all reissues it lacks the weight found on the originals. I remember it being a little flat and bright. I haven’t played it in years so I could easily be wrong. The glorious sound I hear on the best pressings is not the kind of thing I hear on 180 gram records by Speakers Corner, or anybody else for that matter. (more…)

TAS List Thoughts about Festival – Harry, This One Is Out of Phase, Man!

More orchestral music conducted by Fritz Reiner (1888-1963)

TAS List Thoughts about Festival

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Harry Pearson put this on his list of the best Classic Records RCAs.

If you can reverse your absolute phase this record actually sounds fairly decent. Do you think Harry knows to do that, or even how to do it? I have my doubts. [He’s gone now so the point is moot, but I maintain it’s the rare reviewer who grasps these kinds of issues with anything approaching the depth and understanding required to be informative and accurate.) 

Romantic Russia – Who on Earth Could Possibly Take This Kind of Sound Seriously?

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Borodin, Glinka & Mussorgsky / Romantic Russia / Solti

 

Sonic Grade: F

Another MoFi LP debunked.

A well-known reviewer has many kind things to say about this pressing, but we think it sounds like a hi-fi-ish version of a ’70s London, which means it’s opaque and the strings are badly lacking in Tubey Magic.

The bass is like jello on the MoFi, unlike the real London which has fairly decent bass.

More orchestral music conducted by Georg Solti

MoFi had a bad habit of making bright classical records. I suppose you could say they had a bad habit of making bright records in general. A few are dull, some are just right, but most of them are bright in one way or another. Dull playback equipment? An attempt to confuse detail with resolution? Whatever the reasons, the better and more accurate your equipment becomes, the most obvious this shortcoming will be. My tolerance for their phony EQ is at an all time low. But hey, that’s me. (more…)

Borodin / Symphony No. 2 – Martinon

More Borodin 

More Symphony No. 2 – Martinon 

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

This Minty looking RCA Living Stereo LP has AMAZING SOUND. It’s everything a Living Stereo record should be — warm and rich with lots of depth and silky highs. The lower strings on this record are hands down some of the best I’ve ever heard. They’re so rich and textured. Out of all the Decca recorded RCAs I’ve had the pleasure (or misfortune as the case may be!) of listening to, this is definitely one of the top dogs.

If this record were quiet it would easily fetch $300; unfortunately that ain’t the case. The only reason we’re offering this copy for sale is because the sound — and the music — are OUT OF THIS WORLD!

Borodin / Symphonies 2 & 3 / Ansermet – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More Borodin 

Symphonies 2 & 3 / Ansermet 

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This White Hot Stamper pressing has DEMO QUALITY sound of the HIGHEST ORDER on fairly quiet vinyl no less. We’ve long considered the album one of the greatest of all the Decca / London recordings, but this pressing takes the sound beyond even our high expectations.

There is simply nothing in the sound to fault. Where is the slightly dry and midrangy quality in the upper strings that so many Londons from this era suffer from? It’s nowhere to be found on this side one. And it’s not as though our stereo was hiding that quality, because some of it creeps into the sound on this very side two (which is why it earned a slightly lower grade of A++). (more…)

Borodin / Sym. No. 2 / Tchaikovsky / Francesca Da Rimini / Varviso – Reviewed in 2012

More Borodin 

More Sym. No. 2 / Tchaikovsky / Francesca Da Rimini / Varviso 

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

This London Whiteback pressing (CS 6578) has SHOCKINGLY GOOD sound; in many ways it deserves to be called a Demo Disc. It has at least one quality that one virtually never hears on an audiophile reissue: a smooth, natural top end. This record only sounds correct and “real” at louder volumes, in the same way that a live orchestra often sounds a bit lifeless in the quiet passages, only to get exciting, big and powerful when the score calls for it. For this to happen on record you need real dynamics and tonal neutrality. (more…)

Mussorgsky, Borodin, et al. / Orchestral Showpieces / Solti – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Modest Mussorgsky

Orchestral Showpieces / Solti

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

This London Whiteback LP recorded in 1967 (CS 6503) has DEMO QUALITY SOUND on side two. Solti is the man for this music! He’s on fire with this fiery material and the London engineers do him full justice — at least they do on side two. (Side one has a long scratch and cannot be played.)

Don’t go looking for the Tubey Magic of an earlier era. What you get instead is super low distortion, full bandwidth sound with deep powerful bass and lovely transparency. THIS is the way you want to hear Russian Orchestral Showpieces — played with verve and dynamically ALIVE.

The Polovtsian Dances on side two sound as dynamic and powerful as any I know. (more…)

Azimuth, VTA, Anti-Skate and Tracking Weight – We Got to Live Together

Azimuth,

VTA,

Anti-Skate and

Tracking Weight 

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With a shout out to my man Sly!

In this listing you can find commentary and advice about tonearm azimuth adjustment, Ansermet’s recordings, Speakers Corner 180g pressings, and more.

More of the Best Recordings Made in Victoria Hall

The Borodin title you see pictured has DEMO QUALITY SOUND OF THE HIGHEST ORDER!

One of the great London records. The performance by Ansermet is definitive, IMHO, and this recording ranks in the Top Ten Decca/ Londons I’ve ever heard.

The powerful lower strings and brass are gorgeous. Ansermet and the Suisse Romande get that sound better than any performers I know. You will see my raves on record after record of theirs produced in this era. No doubt the wonderful hall they record in is the key. One can assume Decca engineers use similar techniques for their recordings regardless of the artists involved. The only real variable should be the hall. Ansermet’s recordings with the Suisse Romande have a richness in the lower registers that is unique in my experience. His Pictures At Exhibition has phenomenally powerful brass, the best I’ve ever heard. The same is true for his Night On Bald Mountain. Neither performance does much for me — they’re both too slow — but the sound is out of this world. Like it is here.

One of the reasons this record is sounding so good today (1/12/05) is that I spent last weekend adjusting my Triplanar tonearm. The sound was bothering me somewhat, so I decided to start experimenting again with the azimuth adjustment. I changed the azimuth in the smallest increments I could manage, which on this turnable are exceedingly small increments, until at some point the bass started to go deeper, dynamics improved, and the overall tonal balance became fuller and richer. Basically the cartridge was becoming perfectly vertical to the record. I don’t think this can be done any other way than by ear, although I don’t know that for a fact. (more…)

Our Favorite Recording of Scheherazade

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I attended this Dec. 2013 concert; it was a thrill like no other. (Well, maybe The Planets.)

“Guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos’s attention to detail delivers the razzle dazzle and also discovers renewed radiance in ‘Scheherazade.'”

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We did a monster shootout for this music in 2014, one we had been planning for more than two years. On hand were quite a few copies of the Reiner on RCA; the Ansermet on London (CS 6212, his second stereo recording, from 1961, not the earlier and noticeably poorer sounding recording from in 1959); the Ormandy on Columbia, and a few others we felt had shown potential.

The only recordings that held up all the way through — the fourth movement being THE Ball Breaker of all time, for both the engineers and musicians — were those by Reiner and Ansermet. This was disappointing considering how much time and money we spent finding, cleaning and playing those ten or so other pressings. (more…)