_Composers – Mendelssohn

Today’s Bad Sounding Reissue Is Decca SPA 503!

Apparently mastered with no regard to sound quality, this Decca SPA reissue is muddy, dull and smeary.

How do we know that? We go out of our way to play every pressing we can get our hands on, even cheap reissues such as this. That’s our job.  We play everything so you don’t have to.

Some of them are good, some of them are mediocre, and some, like this one, are ridiculously bad.

We know this music well, having done shootouts for these works. They are Demonstration Quality recordings if you have the right import pressings on Decca or London, and the performances are second to none.

More reviews of the recordings of Mendelssohn

More reviews of records conducted by Peter Maag.

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…)

It’s Records Like This that Give Reissues a Bad Reputation

Apparently mastered with no regard to sound quality, this Decca SPA reissue is muddy, dull and smeary.

How do we know that? We go out of our way to play every pressing we can get our hands on, even cheap reissues such as this. That’s our job.  We play everything so you don’t have to.

Some of them are good, some of them are mediocre, and some, like this one, are ridiculously bad.

We know this music well, having done shootouts for all four of these works. They are Demonstration Quality recordings if you have the right import pressings on Decca or London, and the performances are second to none.

More reviews of the recordings of Rossini

More reviews of the recordings of Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn / Scotch Symphony & Fingal’s Cave / Dorati – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

The sound of this Super Hot Stamper side one came as a bit of a surprise to us. It’s so BIG and RICH — this is a Mercury? It sounds like a good Decca/ London.

It’s actually instead a bit of a hybrid. The recording takes place in a famous London hall with superb acoustics (Walthamstow Town Hall) in which the Mercury recording team merely set up their usual three mics and recorded to half-inch tape. Gone is the dryness and upper-midrange nasality of so many Mercury’s; no doubt that sound was caused in large part by the halls in which they were recorded.

This is some Tubey Magical Decca orchestral sound from 1956, here on a Colorback early Mercury pressing. Go figure.

Side One

With a grade of A++ this side was KILLER. A little smear but so rich, musical and enjoyable you will find yourself lost in the performance. The London Symphony is hard to beat.

Side Two

A+ for the fourth movement of the symphony, with more smear than we heard on side one. Fingal’s Cave Overture sounds better though, more like side one. We gave it an A++ grade.

This is a truly wonderful copy of one of the rarest and best Mercury recordings. (more…)

Bruch – Scottish Fantasia / Mendelssohn – Violin Concerto – Campoli

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  • As good as the Mendelssohn is on side one – with Double Plus (A++) sound it would have to be excellent indeed – the crowning glory of this disc is the Scottish Fantasy on side two  
  • It’s some of the best sound we have ever heard for the work, right up there with our longtime favorite, the Heifetz on Living Stereo (LSC 2603) 
  • One of the truly great 1959 All Tube Kenneth Wilkinson “Decca Tree” recordings in Kingsway Hall, captured faithfully in all its beauty on this very disc
  • Referring to the Mendelssohn, Gramophon noted: “[Campoli’s] virtuosity in the finale are as self-evident as is the excellence of the accompaniment under Sir Adrian Boult. There are many felicitous touches and the distinguished soloist plays magnificently throughout.”

If you want an outstanding Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and an out of this world Scottish Fantasy, this is the copy for you!

The Bruch brings to mind some of Tchaikovsky’s works. It’s so sweet and melodic, it completely draws you into its world of sound. This is a work of unsurpassed beauty, music that belongs in any serious music collection.

As we noted above, Kenneth Wilkinson engineered in the legendary Kingsway Hall. There is a richness to the sound of the strings that is exceptional, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least. 

It’s practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years (and this of course includes practically everything pressed on Heavy Vinyl). It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful vintage pressings to play it’s an art that is not being lost on us.

It’s also as wide, deep and three-dimensional as any, which is, of course, all to the good, but what makes the sound of these recordings so special is the timbral accuracy of the instruments in every section.

I don’t think the Decca engineers could have cut this record any better — it has all the orchestral magic one could ask for, as well as the resolving power, clarity and presence that are missing from so many other vintage Golden Age records.

This is the kind of record that will make you want to take all your heavy vinyl classical pressings and put them in storage. They cannot begin to sound the way this record sounds. (Before you put them in storage or on Ebay please play them against this pressing so that you can be confident in your decision to rid yourself of their unforgivable mediocrity.) (more…)

Mendelssohn and Bruch / Violin Concertos / Ricci / Gamba

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

  • With two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard Mendelssohn Violin Concerto sound remotely as good as it does here, and the Bruch Violin Concerto on the second side is every bit as good
  • With sonic grades like these, you can be sure this pressing will beat all comers for sound, including the performances by Heifetz, Rybar, and others we’ve been enamored with in the past
  • The violin is so sweet and present, so rich, natural and real, you will forget you’re listening to a record at all
  • The glorious sound of these truly great 1958 All Tube “Decca Tree” recordings from Kingsway Hall is faithfully captured in all its beauty on this very disc

This is one of the ALL TIME GREAT violin concerto records. In Ruggiero Ricci’s hands both works are nothing short of magical. If you want to know why people drool over Golden Age recordings, listen to the violin. Careful, when you hear it you may find yourself drooling too.

The staging of the orchestra and violin is exactly the way we want to hear it in our heads. Whether it would really sound this way in a concert hall is impossible to say — concert halls all sound different — but the skill and the emotion of the playing is communicated beautifully on this LP. This is a sweetheart of a record, full of the Tubey Magic for which London recordings are justly famous.

As we noted above, engineering took place in the legendary Kingsway Hall. There is a richness to the sound of the strings that is exceptional, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least. (more…)

Mendelssohn / Scotch & Italian Symphonies – Abbado

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

NM original 1968 Decca British import LP with very good sound and lovely performances. Of course the music should be part of any serious record collection. This recording may have its faults and limitations, but I listened to both sides all the way through and enjoyed each immensely. A good source for your minimum daily requirement of Decca midrange magic — the strings are just right. Plenty of ambience too.

A rare title in my experience; first one I’ve ever seen.

Mozart / Mendelssohn – The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts

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

The Mozart side of this Red Seal pressing from 1968 sounds AMAZING. I have never heard better staging for a chamber work of this kind. All five instruments are so clearly set apart from each other and tonally correct (for the most part) that it is nothing less than fascinating to be able to follow each instrument as it weaves its way through the score. If you’ve suffered through the horrendously sour and screechy recordings Heifetz and Piatigorsky are known for in audiophile circles — LDS 2513 and LDS 6159, you will be glad to know that this side one sounds NOTHING like them.    (more…)

Mendelssohn – Violin Concerto / Bruch – Scottish Fantasia – Campoli / Boult

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  • This stunning London Blueback LP presents the complete Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the best sound we have ever heard for the work 
  • Side one here earned a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sonic grade, beating all comers for sound, including the performances by Heifetz, Ricci, Rybar and others that’s we’ve been enamored with in the past
  • The glorious sound of one of the truly great 1959 All Tube Kenneth Wilkinson “Decca Tree” recordings in Kingsway Hall is captured faithfully in all its beauty on this very disc
  • “[Campoli’s] virtuosity in the finale are as self-evident as is the excellence of the accompaniment under Sir Adrian Boult. There are many felicitous touches and the distinguished soloist plays magnificently throughout.”

As can be seen from the grades above, The Scottish Fantasy on side two was not remotely as good sounding as the Mendelssohn on side one. The best pressings for that work came on the London Stereo Treasury label surprisingly enough. As good as those later British pressings were, the best of which earned the full Three Pluses for its side two, none of them had quite the magic of the Mendelssohn found here. (more…)

The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts

More of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts

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

This IMMACULATE set has dry, edgy, screechy sound — until you reverse your absolute phase! Then it sounds pretty good! It certainly will never win any awards, but it’s practically unlistenable without the phase reversed. 

Now I can’t say that’s true for all six sides. I play graded all six sides — they range from M- to slightly worse, about as quiet as these Soria pressings ever are — but I only reversed the phase on side one after dropping the needle on the other sides and suffering through the brittle sound. (more…)