_Composers – Brahms

Elgar / Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO – Reviewed in 2005

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

Near Demo quality. Outstanding sound. One of the best Enigma Variations around. The Brahms on the second side is also a treat. Better than the LSC if my experience from many years ago still holds up. 

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Brahms & Dvorak / Hungarian & Slavonic Dances / Reiner – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

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

GOOD SOUND and QUIET VINYL on both sides of this British Stereo Treasury pressing — this one beat out some of our Blueback pressings! This one gives you more extension both up top and down low than the typical pressing. It’s not the most impressive record in the world, but it’s a nice step up from most copies out there and the vinyl is quiet. (more…)

Brahms / Piano Concerto #2 – Van Cliburn / Reiner / CSO – Reviewed in 2005

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

This White Dog pressing is the best sounding copy I’ve ever heard, much better than the earlier pressings! The piano doesn”t break up like it does on those, especially in the second movement. Finally the piano sounds right – solid and with the correct overtones. It goes without saying that this is an exceptionally good performance as well. One of the best of the Cliburn recordings.

Brahms / Piano Concerto No. 2 / Gilels / Reiner – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

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

This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity

This Very Nice Plum Label Victrola has excellent sound — sweet and spacious — but only if you reverse your absolute phase. The vinyl is quiet and, most importantly, this is arguably the greatest performance of all time. The LSC might be a tad better overall; they’re so darn rare it’s hard to know.

Brahms / Piano Concerto #1 / Curzon / Szell – Reviewed in 2006

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

This is a Near Mint London Whiteback Import LP with an excellent side one. Side one sounds about as good as this record can sound — smooth and sweet with a natural top end and plenty of deep bass. Side two is not quite as magical.

Brahms / Violin Concerto / Szeryng / Monteux

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND!.

One of the most amazing violin concerto records I have ever heard! Makes most of the Heifetz records pale in comparison. The performance is sublime as well.

When you hear the gorgeous texture of the massed strings at the beginning of this work you know you are in for a magical Living Stereo experience. It only gets better. Szeryng’s violin is as sweet and musical as any I have ever heard. This has to be one of the greatest Golden Age recordings in the history of the world. Its reputation is probably hurt by the fact that it’s so rare that few people have had a chance to hear how good it is.

If you love this work, one of the classics of the violin repertoire, you will be hard pressed to find a better performance with better sound. In my mind, there simply is no competition for this record.

Brahms / Piano Concerto #2 / Bachauer

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Piano Concerto #2 / Bachauer 

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

This original Maroon Label Mercury pressing has big and rich Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, with a a side one that’s very nearly as good.

In fact the piano itself on side one earned a grade of A++ for its amazingly present and real sound. It’s the orchestra that’s the problem, but that happens quite often with Mercury concerto records in our experience. We’re just happy that side two sounds so good and that side one is clearly a big step up from the average copy.

Side Two

A++, with the orchestra sounding better than it did on side one. Big and rich sound for Mercury? We’ll take it!

Side One

A+ to A++. The piano is close-miked, which makes it present and solid. It’s also very dynamic. The orchestra however is too small and the strings can get shrill at their loudest.

Brahms / Four Symphonies / Boult (4 LP Box Set)

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

This is an IMMACULATE looking EMI 4 LP Box Set. Unlike many of the typical ’70s mid-hall, vague, cold sounding EMIs that some audiophiles seem to like. these recordings have much more presence, as well as beautifully textured strings. 

In fact the more I play this set the more I like it. Boult brings quite a bit of energy to these performances, especially considering his age at the time (he was in his 80s!).

Brahms / Violin Concerto In D Major / Stern / Ormandy – Reviewed in 2009

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Violin Concerto In D Major / Stern / Ormandy 

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

This very nice looking Columbia LP has SUPERB SOUND on side two. The violin is much sweeter than on side one and there’s much less distortion during the loud passages. If we were grading this as a Hot Stamper we’d give it about an A+ – A++. And on top of all that, Isaac Stern, never one of my favorite performers, is actually wonderful here. He plays beautifully.

Ormandy is another person who rarely gets the respect he is due, probably because his Columbia recordings sound bad as a rule. This is the exception. The recording is 95% as good as it could possibly be. This is a truly outstanding Brahms Violin Concerto in every way!

Side one is pretty good as well. It’s very lively and the violin sounds great — it sounds like it’s right there in the room with you. The loud passages on this side do suffer from compression distortion. Overall we’d give it about an A.

Brahms, Handel, Chopin – Lincoln Mayorga, Pianist – Reverse Your Polarity!

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This IMMACULATE Sheffield Direct-to-Disc LP with Very Little Sign Of Play (VLSOP) is one of the best Sheffields. Lincoln Mayorga is an accomplished classical pianist: this is arguably his best work. (I had a chance to see him perform at a recital of Chopin’s works early in 2010 and he played superbly — for close to two hours without the aid of sheet music I might add.) 

You might want to try reversing the phase when playing this LP; it definitely helps the sound, a subject we discuss below.

This is another one of the Pressings We’ve Discovered with Reversed Polarity.

Reversing the absolute phase on this record recently was quite interesting. The sound of the piano itself was already very good. With the phase reversed what really changed with the sense of space surrounding it, which immediately became much more palpable. The piano, though tonally similar to the way it sounded with the phase left alone, came to life more — more solid and punchy and percussive.

How do you change the absolute phase you ask? You must either switch the positive and negative at the speaker, the amp, or at the head shell leads, or you must have a switch that inverts phase on your preamp or phono stage. (The EAR 324p we use has just such a switch and let me tell you, it comes in very handy in situations like these.) If you can’t do any of those, or are unwilling to do any of those, this record will still sound good. It just won’t sound as good.