_Composers – Dvorak

Dvorak / Symphony #1 / Kertesz / LSO – A Bit Too Smooth

xxxxx

CS 6523. This is an IMMACULATE Brand New Unplayed London LP with the old style paste-on back cover. We cracked open the factory seal just to make sure that this was a British pressing.

As we’ve said before, Kertesz is the Dvorak man! He recorded the complete cycle for London; many of those LPs have superb performances and excellent sound.

We dropped the needle momentarily on this title and heard sound that was overly smooth for my taste. If you like your records on the smooth side, this should do the trick.

Rhapsody! – The Story of an Old Fave We Were Wrong About

xxx

A great example of an album We Was Wrong about.

As you can see by the commentary below, I used to think this was a wonderful sounding London “Sleeper” classical recording.

That was many years ago – five, six, seven, I cannot be sure. I ended up acquiring a half dozen copies of the album or so over the course of those years, had them cleaned up and proceeded to do a shootout.

It did not go well. Immediately I noticed that the pressings I was playing were sounding clean, clear and lively, but much too modern, too much like a good CD and not enough like the good Golden Age classical recordings we audition regularly.

Those recordings, on the right pressings, will take your breath away.  Rhapsody! was leaving me asking myself what was wrong. The more I listened the more obvious the faults of the recording became.

The pressings I played lacked warmth, richness, sweetness, space, and a number of other analog qualities I won’t belabor here. Too much of what makes listening to vintage vinyl so involving was just not on these records no matter how much I may have wanted them to be.

The extreme top and bottom were also lacking, giving the sound a “boxy” quality. The presentation was wide but not tall. Of the five levels of sound we discuss on the site in various listings, levels one and five were not as evident as they should have been.

This is, again, what progress in audio in all about. As your stereo improves, some records should get better, some should get worse. It’s the nature of the beast for those of us who constantly make improvements to our playback and critically listen to records all day.

We cannot rely on our previous judgments. With all the changes we’ve made over the years, we can now clean our records better and play our records better than ever before.

That means that some will rise and some will fall. This one fell, pretty hard in fact. Not a bad record, but not a good one either, and far from as good as I once thought.

Below is our previous commentary.  All of this was true for my old stereo and room, my critical listening skills at the time, my old cleaning regimen. And by old I mean my approach from only about five or six years ago!

Things have changed, dramatically, and nothing in all of audio could make me happier.

DEMO QUALITY SOUND! This is one of the greatest SLEEPER albums of all time.

This London reissue from 1979 of recordings from 1978 in Detroit, the year in which Dorati became director of the Detroit Symphony has the kind of orchestral sound we drool over here at Better Records. Dark and rich strings — the basses growl just like the real thing. Dynamic. Deep solid bass. Fluffy tape hiss, which sounds exactly the way it should. This tells you that the top end is untweaked. (Almost all Classic Records have funny sounding tape hiss as you may or may not know. It”s a dead give away that the top end is boosted. Tape hiss is like pink noise: it always sounds the same, unless somebody has fooled with it. Steve Hoffman taught me to listen for this quality and it was a lesson important to my growth as a critical listener.) (more…)

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

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

xxxxx

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…)

Dvorak & Glazounov – Violin Concertos – Milstein – Cisco Reviewed

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak

Violin Concertos – Milstein

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: B or so

Some of the sweetest violin tone on heavy vinyl you will ever hear. For Heavy Vinyl this one gets a very high recommendation. The domestic originals we’ve played have been uniformly awful so pick up this Cisco pressing wherever you can find it if the price is right, assuming you can stand the lack of ambience and resolution that Heavy Vinyl consistently suffers from. To be honest, we have not played this record in many years and would probably like it much less now than we did at the time of its release. (more…)

Brahms and Dvorak / Serenades / Kertesz – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak 

xxxxx

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

This London Whiteback LP (CS 6594) has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, which is where the Dvorak Serenade for 10 wind instruments, cello and bass can be found. It has lovely space and depth, with dead on tonality and lots of Tubey Magic.

If you love the sound of wind instruments (and who doesn’t? British Band Classics springs immediately to mind as one of the most enjoyable classical recordings I own), then this just may be the classical chamber recording for you. (more…)

Dvorak/ Symphony No. 7 / Monteux/ LSO – Reviewed in 2008

More Antonin Dvorak

xxxxx

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

This fairly quiet (M-) Plum Label Victrola has LOVELY, SPACIOUS, tonally correct sound. Monteux and LSO are wonderful here, so this one gets a top recommendation from Better Records. 

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

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

More Hungarian & Slavonic Dances / Reiner 

xxxxx

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…)

Dvorak / Cello Concerto – Munch / Boston – Hard to Recommend in Living Stereo

More Antonin Dvorak

More Munch / Boston

xxxxx

I have never heard a copy of this record sound better than decent. This title is very unlikely to have the wonderful sound of the best Living Stereo pressings that you can find on our site, each of which has been carefully evaluated to the highest standards.

If you can get one for cheap, go for it. Otherwise I would pass.

Dvorak / Symphony No. 9 / Kertesz / Vienna Phil. – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

More Antonin Dvorak

More Symphony No. 9 / Kertesz / Vienna Phil.

xxxxx
xxxxx

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

Presenting yet another remarkable Demo Disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, in this case 1961, with the added benefit of mastering courtesy of the more modern equipment of the ’70s, in this case 1970. (We are of course here referring to the good modern equipment of 40 years ago, not the bad modern mastering equipment of today.) 

Dvorák draws the musical threads together in the last movement, weaving new material with moods and themes from previous movements into a grand finale that resulted in extended cheering from the New York audience at its December 1893 premiere.

The New York critic W. J. Henderson raved: “It is a great symphony and must take its place among the finest works in the form produced since the death of Beethoven.”

This combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on either of these Super Hot sides. And the 1970 British vinyl plays mostly Mint Minus!

Side One

A++ to A+++, just shy of the sound of White Hot shootout winning side. The hall is huge, so wide and deep, spacious and open. The perspective is above all natural. A little more extension up top and this side would have been impossible to beat.

Solid, powerful tympani whacks — listen for them. Sweet woodwinds too. (more…)

Dvorak / Symphony No. 9 – An Overview of Mehta’s, Kertesz’s and Kubelik’s Recordings

More Antonin Dvorak

Symphony No. 9 / Kertesz / Vienna Phil.

xxxxx
xxxxx

An Overview

We got off to a rough start with this piece of music. The early pressings we played were often sonically uninspiring, and that’s being charitable.

  • The London Blueback pressings with Kubelik (CS 6020) that we had thought were competitive with some of the better recordings we had on hand turned out to be generally disappointing. The strings were often hard and shrill, the overall sound crude and full of tube smear. These Londons cost us a pretty penny owing to the very high quality condition we require them to be in for our shootouts. All that time, effort and money was in the end for naught. A big chunk of dough was headed down the drain.
  • The Stereo Treasury pressing of this same performance sounded better to us than any of the Bluebacks we played but far from competitive with the recordings we ended up preferring.
  • The Londons and Deccas from 1967 with Kertesz conducting the LSO also left much to be desired sonically. After hearing the 9th on both London and Decca, we did a quick needle drop on the other symphonies from the complete cycle that Kertesz conducted and concluded that none of them were worth our time. The trade-in pile was growing ever taller.
  • Then some good news came our way when we dropped the needle on the Decca/London recording with Mehta and the LA Phil. Our best London sounded shockingly good, much better than the one Decca pressing we had on hand. His 8th Symphony (CS 6979) is also quite good by the way. This is surprising because we rarely like anything by Mehta and the LA Phil. from this period — the recording in question is from 1975 — but of course we are happy to be surprised when they sound as good as the ones we played.

The one that seemed to us to be the best balance of sound and performance was conducted by Istvan Kertesz, but not with the LSO. His recording with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1961, his debut for Decca as a matter of fact, is the one that ended up winning our shootout of a dozen pressings or so. (more…)