_Composers – Brahms

Brahms / Concerto for Violin & Cello on Cisco Heavy Vinyl

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[An old review. We would not stand behind what we say here about the superiority of the Cisco pressing over the Shaded Dog.]

180g Cisco LP. The performances here are of course extraordinary, but this has never been one of RCA’s best recordings. The originals have more Tubey Magic; these 180 gram versions more accuracy of presentation, clarity and definition. Much less distortion too. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture / Reiner – The Best Sound Here Is Everything But the 1812

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

The real stars here are NOT the 1812, but the three coupling works, which demonstrate, on this copy at least, The Real Power of the Orchestra. The remarkably rich, Tubey Magical and oh-so-rosiny Living Stereo strings and powerful, dynamic brass make this a real demo quality orchestral heavyweight. Lizst’s Mephisto Waltz, Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides Overture, and the Tragic Overture by Brahms are the Must Own 36 minutes worth of music on the record. (more…)

Brahms – Concerto No. 2- Reiner / Gilels – Cisco Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: C+?

Another Heavy Vinyl pressing from Cisco / Impex reviewed.

It’s been quite a while since I played the Cisco pressing, but I remember it as being quite good. At the time we wrote: “The overall sound is smooth and spacious. The piano may lack the full weight of the live instrument, but that’s RCA’s fault, not Cisco’s. If you can look past that you will find this to be one of the better Living Stereo reissues available today.” and we’ll just have to stick with that for now, since we haven’t played the record in more than ten years.

Brahms / Violin Concerto – Milstein / Steinberg

More of the music of Johannes Brahms  

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

Another nice Milstein record with exquisite violin tone. Of course the performance is magical. The massed strings are lovely here. Lots of hall, big spacious sound, and of course a violin to die for.

(This is not the correct cover for the original pressing we were reviewing.)

Brahms / Sonatas #2 & 3 / Rubinstein and Szeryng – Reviewed in 2010

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

3S/ 4S RCA Shaded Dog. The sound is actually quite decent when you INVERT the ABSOLUTE PHASE. If you cannot or will not do that, this record will not sound good — it’s somewhat hard and bright. It will never be a Top Shaded Dog but it is a good one with the absolute phase inverted.

This record is third in a series of masterpieces for violin and piano.

Brahms / Variations And Fugue On A Theme By Handel / Katchen – Reviewed in 2008

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

More Variations And Fugue On A Theme By Handel / Katchen 

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

Near Mint copy with excellent sound! Superb piano tone for these solo pieces and very quiet vinyl add up to a wonderful listening experience. This surprisingly quiet British vinyl is going to be hard to beat by other Golden Age labels. (Finding solo piano recordings on RCA or Mercury from this era that play quietly is practically impossible.)

Side one is super TRANSPARENT — the piano is so clear! It lacks a bit of weight on the first side; perhaps that’s the way it is actually supposed to sound, who can say? On side two it sounds a little better to my ear, big and dark and very solid. It’s pretty amazing in its own way. And Katchen’s performance is of course superb. All in all a very find piano recording.

This lovely album also includes Variations on a Theme by Paganini. (more…)

Brahms / Sonata #3 in F Minor / Rubinstein – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

More Sonata #3 in F Minor / Rubinstein 

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

This exceptionally rare Shaded Dog pressing has AMAZING sound on side one, A+++, with side two rating a nearly as good sonic grade of A++. I can’t recall the last time I played a solo piano recording that was this transparent and lively. It’s shockingly realistic; this is what a piano sounds like in performance.

Well, almost. Rubinstein’s recordings never manage to convey all the weight of a real concert grand piano — as if any home stereo could anyway — but this recording is still relatively full-bodied. What it is more than anything else is REAL sounding. You will quickly forget that you are listening to a record at all. (more…)

Franck / Piano Quintette & Brahms / Heifetz, Piatigorsky et al. – Reviewed in 2013

More Franck

More Piano Quintette & Brahms / Heifetz, Piatigorsky et al.

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

A stellar reading of the Franck from this formidable group. Side one of this Shaded Dog is Super Hot: rich, smooth and sweet. The piano is exceptionally well-recorded, with real weight. The Brahms is very good if you can reverse your polarity.    (more…)

Brahms / Violin Concerto / Szeryng / Dorati – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

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

These later Mercury stampers are wonderful: gorgeous woodwinds, a large, full-bodied orchestra and of course a Tubey Magical violin to die for. Both sides earned SUPERB Super Hot Stamper grades (but for very different reasons). The exciting sound is matched by an equally exciting performance by Dorati. Dorati and the LSO pull out all the stops; they’re staking out a position as to just how powerfully and emotionally this work ought to be performed.

The opening is so dramatic — in the style of the First Brahms Symphony — that it’s hard to imagine there is any recording medium that can capture it without a fair amount of dynamic compression. This vintage pressing suffers from a relatively (in our experience) small amount of congestion and shrillness at the opening and elsewhere.

I find it hard to believe that any attempt to record the work would not encounter quite a lot of difficulty with the prodigious dynamic power of the piece. (more…)

Brahms / Hungarian Dances / Dvorak / Slavonic Dances – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

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

The London pressing of this music used to be on the TAS List but appears to have been dropped at some point over the years. Not that I would notice what comes and goes on HP’s list, as I do not hold it in as high a regard as most audiophiles I have met over the years. For some reason there were those who tended to think it definitive or consistent. I can assure you it is neither.

The Brahms here (side one) is nothing special on this copy, but the Dvorak is SUPERB, sounding much better than the other Bluebacks we played and the Stereo Treasury copies as well. With Reiner at the helm both sides are lively and fun. (more…)