_Composers – Mozart

Bruch & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Laredo – Mitchell – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More of the music of Max Bruch 

More Violin Concertos / Laredo – Mitchell 

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

Superb sound. The violin is wonderful on both sides. The Mozart is absolutely gorgeous; the best I’ve ever heard it.

The orchestra on the Bruch side gets a little congested in the louder passages, which is typical for records of this era.

Laredo plays these pieces beautifully. The Bruch is an especially romantic work and his violin sings sweetly and with deep emotion throughout. The Mozart is more spritely and he plays it with the light touch it requires. You will have a hard time finding a better violin concerto record. This ranks with the best of them.

Glazounov & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz / Hendl – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Glazounov & Mozart

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

Hot Stamper sound on side one of this Shaded Dog pressing, and even better sound on side two for these two important works of the basic repertoire.  

The presentation of the violin on side one is present, one could even say immediate. It’s not quite as tubey magical as the better Heifetz pressings I have played, so we are keeping the grade at a fairly modest A+. Those with “tubier” systems may find it complements your sound better than it does mine.

Side two earned a grade of A+ to A++. It’s richer and smoother, sweeter too. It can get a little smeared at times and also can get hard in the upper mids on some passages. Still, overall the sound is excellent. (more…)

Bruch – Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Max Bruch 

More Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz 

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

Both sides of this Shaded Dog pressing of Heifetz and the New Symphony Orchestra of London have sound that earned the quite respectable sonic grades of A+ to A++.

Side one is tonally correct and lively, but suffers from a bit of the all-too-common tube smear, no doubt from the mastering chains and record presses that were in use at the time. (Most modern mastering chains and record presses are, to our ears, even worse, so this is not to denigrate the engineers at RCA in any way. It’s simply to say that with Tubey Magic you often get tubey smear.) (more…)

Mozart / Notturno in D Major For 4 Orchestras / Maag – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

Notturno in D Major For 4 Orchestras / Maag

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

This London title has long been a favorite of ours here at Better Records, and this Blueback copy does not disappoint (except in the area of condition, see the notes below). Side one, much like the amazing Mozart record we listed today, is spacious and three-dimensional like you will not believe. I would rank it in the Top Five Per Cent of all classical recordings in respect of those qualities. You can hear into the soundstage on this pressing like few recordings you own, we guarantee it.

It’s another London winner. You may get tired of me saying it, but it has DEMO QUALITY SOUND as regards its imaging and soundstaing.  (more…)

Mozart / Quintet – Piano + Winds & Trio – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

Quintet – Piano + Winds & Trio

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

Yes, you can expect to find White Hot DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side one of this Blueback pressing (CS 6109), possibly the best sound Decca/London ever achieved in the chamber music format. It’s hard to imagine these five instruments sounding much better than they do here. And the sound for the Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Viola on side two is nearly as good, earning a sonic grade of A++. 

The record is vastly underrated in the famous Moon/ Grey book. No doubt they had a mediocre stamper — how many copies of every title could they possibly have played? — but this is anything but.

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 that it is nothing less than fascinating to be able to follow each instrument as it weaves its way through the score. (more…)

Mozart / Sinfonia Concertante / Oistrakh (Igor and David) – Speakers Corner Reviewed

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

Sinfonia Concertante / Oistrakh

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Sonic Grade: B

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca.

Years ago we wrote the following:

“One of the best of the Decca reissues! EXCELLENT SOUND for these pieces, written for violin, viola and orchestra.”

Can’t be sure we would still feel that way but I’m guessing this is a good record at the price.

JS Bach / Mozart – Two Violin Concertos

More Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) 

More Two Violin Concertos 

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This original plum label Victrola pressing from 1965 has SUPERB sound on both sides. The Bach piece is a rich tapestry of strings spread across the stage and clearly separated left to right. There’s not much depth but that seems of little consequence; all the instruments are heard in their proper space and location. The tonality is right on the money throughout.

The Mozart concerto starts out sounding a bit opaque, but about an inch or so into the side it opens up wonderfully, with sweet, spacious, natural sound from there on out. Jaime Laredo plays both works superbly, and the Living Stereo quality sound brings his playing to life in a way that few recordings can.

Although never released as a real LSC, this Victrola pressing is every bit the equal of most of the better Living Stereo pressings. (more…)

Mozart / Symphony #35 – A Cisco Recommended LP

More of the Music of Mozart

 

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Sonic Grade: B-

I wrote this review in 2001 and disagree with a great deal of what I said about the sound.  The music and performance are great but the sound has all the hallmarks of bad cutting equipment and dead-as-a-doornail RTI vinyl.

Hearing this performance from Thomas Nee and his orchestra is like hearing the work for the first time. It may be difficult to reproduce the magic in these grooves but wonderfully rewarding when you do. You won’t be bored! The sound is intimate and immediate; this is the record for those of you who appreciate more of a front row center seat. Count me in; that’s where I like to sit myself.  

I worked hard on my system for about 4 hours one night, using nothing but this record as my test, because of its wealth of subtle ambience cues, excellent string tone, and massed string dynamics. There is a lot to listen for, and a lot to get right, for this album to sound right.

The performance of the Mozart’s 35th Symphony is definitive. Without a doubt this is the best Mozart record currently available, one that belongs in any serious record collection. I give it a top recommendation for its sublime musical qualities that set it apart from other current releases. In short, a Must Own! 

Now I know better. Now I would say:

As is the case with practically every record pressed on Heavy Vinyl over the last twenty years, there is a suffocating loss of ambience throughout, a pronounced sterility to the sound. Modern remastered records just do not BREATHE like the real thing.

Good EQ or Bad EQ, they all suffer to one degree or another from a bad case of audio enervation. Where is the life of the music? You can try turning up the volume on these remastered LPs all you want; they simply refuse to come to life.

“One of Mozart’s most popular symphonies is given a visceral and driving performance. Instead of slowing down the tempo in service to lyricism, conductor Thomas Nee chose to adhere to Mozart’s written instructions: ‘The first movement must be played with fire; the last, as fast as possible.’ Even if you own several recordings of this bright and joyous work, you’ve never heard it played like this, and certainly never with this kind of audiophile sound!” Cisco Music

Mozart / Quintet – Piano + Winds & Trio

More Mozart

More Quintet

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your chamber music recordings.

This is a handy record for VTA setup as well. Listen for fullness and solidity, especially in the piano, although a rich, full sounding clarinet is a joy here as well. 

Some of the copies lacked the weight and solidity to balance out the qualities of transparency and clarity. The resulting sound is less natural, with the kind of forced detail that CDs do so well, and live music never does. There is a balance to be found.

The right VTA will be critical in this regard. When you have all the space; the clearest, most extended harmonics; AND good weight and richness in the lower registers of the piano, you are where you need to be (keeping in mind that it can always get better if you have the patience and drive to tweak further).  (more…)

Mozart’s Wonderful Clarinet Concerto on Speakers Corner

More Mozart

More Clarinet Concerto / Maag

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Sonic Grade: B?

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca reissue.

Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90 when this record came out, but here it is anyway. 

“One of the best of the Deccas. I raved about this one years ago when it came out. If I had to pick a record to demonstrate how wonderful Decca recordings are, musically and sonically, this would be an easy choice.”

Further Reading

…along these lines can be found below.

Check out our new section: The Better Records Hall of Fame for Orchestral Music.

We have a section for all the Classical Records we have reviewed on the site to date.

We also have a section for all the Heavy Vinyl Classical Records we have reviewed on the site.

We have a number of Commentaries specifically addressing issues we’ve encountered when playing classical recordings.