_Composers – Debussy

Stravinsky / The Firebird Suite / Freccia – Our First Reader’s Digest Offering

More Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) 

More The Firebird Suite / Freccia 

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

This is the first time a disc from a Reader’s Digest box set has made it to the site, and we’re starting off with a bang — The Firebird Suite and La Mer are the two pieces on record 7 of the set, and both of them are knockouts. We have a devil of a time finding good recordings of either work, and to find SUPERB better than Super Hot Stamper sound (A++ to A+++) for both back to back on one disc is a surprise indeed.

You may remember that recordings from these sets were reissued by Chesky back in the ’90s (with mediocre sound of course, as all their reissues are mediocre at best; we never carried any of them even when we were carrying reissues).

I remember the first time I heard some of the records from this Scheherazade set and was knocked out — here was Tubey Magical RCA Living Stereo sound at a fraction of the price the real RCAs were commanding, a price I could not begin to afford.

The problem — and it’s still a problem, though less so — is the vinyl. These sets were produced cheaply in order to be priced affordably (under $20 for 10 LPs in a box!), and that means the best vinyl was simply not part of the budget. To find pressings that play even Mint Minus Minus is not easy, even today. Back then, before the advent of modern enzyme-based cleaning fluids and expensive record cleaning vacuum machinery, there was no way to get most of the vinyl to play even that well.

As you can imagine we did not have dozens of these sets with which to shootout. We had three, and this copy is clearly the winner of the group by a substantial margin.

Side One – The Firebird Suite

A++ to A+++, better than Super Hot Stamper sound. This side was quite a bit richer and more Tubey Magical than the others we played, with solid body to the brass. We would have called it White Hot but we can imagine it would be possible to find a bit more clarity in the midrange. That said, with this kind of sound the music on this side works brilliantly. A top performance of the suite.

Side Two – La Mer

A++ to A+++, better than Super Hot Stamper sound again! Dynamic and lively sonics with a performance to match. More Tubey Magical richness coupled with transparency and plenty of top end, not something you hear often on vintage recordings.

Covers

This record will come in the original inner sleeve from the box set, and should probably be placed in a generic outer sleeve.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Firebird Suite (Stravinsky)

Side Two

La Mer (Debussy)

 

Debussy / Images Pour Orchestre / Argenta – Reviewed in 2013

More of the music of Claude Debussy 

More Images Pour Orchestre / Argenta 

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

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Side two (with Iberia) is simply amazing. It”s more natural than the famous Reiner performance. Argenta brings out the folky quality of this music.  (more…)

Debussy / La Mer / Haitnik – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Claude Debussy 

More La Mer / Haitnik 

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

This early Philips pressing has very good sound and a SUPERB performance from Haitink. (Gramaphone, the “world’s authority on classical music since 1923”, raves about it.) Finding a quiet, good sounding La Mer is as difficult as finding a quiet good sounding Bolero. As popular as both of these works are, and considering how many times they have been recorded in analog, quiet vinyl and good sound are still the exception and not the rule, and that goes for Bolero especially.  (more…)

Rachmaninoff & Liszt / Favorite Classics for Piano / Pennario – Reviewed in 2014

More of Franz Liszt’s music

Favorite Classics for Piano / Pennario

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

White Hot Stamper sound on side two of this solo piano recording. It’s big, rich and above all REAL sounding, with natural studio space. The legendary soloist Leonard Pennario is presented here at the height of his powers. Superb choice of material, from Clair De Lune to Liebestraum to the Hungarian Rhapsody No . 2.

On the rare Stereo pressing of course — we want to hear all that studio space reproduced, just as your two ears would have heard it (more or less). (more…)

Debussy / Clair de Lune / Agoult – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Claude Debussy 

More Clair de Lune / Agoult 

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

This Shaded Dog LP has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND, if what you’re demonstrating is not a Hi-Fi spectacular, but rather a sublime presentation of a truly sweet and natural string section of an orchestra, presented here on analog disc created more than fifty years ago.  

I can’t imagine a more beautiful record, both in terms of the programme and the sound. This record is a wonderful example of what the Decca recording engineers were able to capture on tape, and the RCA mastering engineers were able to master from tape. (more…)

Debussy / Images Pour Orchestre / Munch – Reviewed in 2006

More of the music of Claude Debussy 

More Images Pour Orchestre / Munch  

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

Living Stereo record from the Golden Age of Classical Recordings, in this case 1960.

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Iberia on side two sounds exceptionally good. It’s also a better performace than the famous Reiner. Munch understands this music perfectly.

This recording has an extremely open, extended top end. If you can add a few dB around 50 cycles, you will have the best of both worlds. 

Debussy & Ravel / String Quartet – Julliard String Quartet – Reviewed in 2005

More of the music of Claude Debussy 

More String Quartet – Julliard String Quartet 

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

Near Mint SUPER RARE Demonstration Copy Shaded Dog of this Debussy and Ravel string quartet recording. 

I haven’t seen a clean one of these in probably close to ten years. This record looks like it has been played very little.

The sound is also very natural. Not bright or close miked — much more the way it would actually be heard in a smaller more intimate setting.

Debussy / Ravel – Piano Works – Moravec – Reviewed in the ’90s

More Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Piano Works – Moravec

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

This long out of print Athena LP is one of my favorite audiophile records of all time. It was recorded in 1967 and remastered by a real mastering engineer, Robert Ludwig, a man who knows the sound of an acoustic piano about as well as anyone ever will. He did scores of Vox recordings and knows the sound of classical music inside and out. 

Athena, like Chesky, is an Audiophile BS Label of the worst kind; most of their stuff is ridiculously artificial sounding. This is the only record of theirs that I can recommend. You will have a very hard time finding these piano pieces sounding any better than they do here.

Debussy / La Mer / Ansermet

More of the music of Claude Debussy 

More La Mer / Ansermet 

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

We were impressed with the fact that this vintage London pressing excelled in so many areas of reproduction. The illusion of disappearing speakers is one of the more attractive aspects of the sound here, allowing the listener to inhabit the space of the concert hall in an especially engrossing way. Depth and transparency are key to losing yourself in the music, and this pressing offers plenty of both.

White Hot Stamper “can’t be beat” sound on side one for La Mer. Side two is also White Hot for this 1965 Victoria Hall recording. Front row center seating for both sides in the best Decca tradition. Ansermet and the Suisse Romande bring out the beauty in this enchanting, enigmatic work. (more…)

Debussy / Images Pour Orchestre / Argenta

More of the music of Claude Debussy 

More Images Pour Orchestre / Argenta 

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

Presenting Super Hot Stamper sound on side two of this Stereo Treasury LP, which is where this superbly performed, wonderul sounding Iberia can be found. Although lacking in orchestral weight, from about 200 cycles up this copy is perfection. In its own way — especially on systems with not a lot of firepower down low — this side two qualifies as a Demo Disc. 

Argenta is the man for this music; he brings out the folky quality in the work. We much prefer Argenta’s performance to Reiner’s on LSC 2222, which was one of the early releases from Classic Records as well, poorly remastered of course and best avoided. The Classic may be on Harry’s list — sad but true — but that certainly has no bearing on the fact that it’s not a very good record. This STS LP will show you exactly what’s missing from that Heavy Vinyl pressing. (more…)