_Composers – Prokofiev

Prokofiev / Symphony #5 / Martinon (LSC 2272) – Reviewed in 2010

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Symphony #5 / Martinon (LSC 2272)

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

This rare Shaded Dog pressing has an absolutely AMAZING side two. It’s transparent, with sweet (yes, for the Prokofiev 5th!), smooth and rich strings. Listen to how natural the woodwinds sound on this side 

Side two here is the fluke, since most of the time this record sounds terrible. But now we know how well engineered it really is. We have the copy right here to prove it! (more…)

Various Artists – Destination Stereo – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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Destination Stereoo

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

Side one is White Hot, with some of the best 1959 Living Stereo we’ve ever heard. Explosive dynamics, HUGE space and size, with unerringly correct tonality, this is a Demo Disc like no other. When “in -the-know” audiophiles discuss soundstaging and depth, they had better be talking about a record that sounds like this. Shockingly real – proof positive that the cutting systems of the day are capable of much better sound than we normally assume. 

This reasonably quiet RCA Shaded Dog LP has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND on BOTH sides. It is without a doubt THE best sounding copy we have ever heard*. (more…)

Prokofiev / Symphonic Suite of Waltzes / Schweiger – Cisco Reviewed

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Symphonic Suite of Waltzes / Gypsy Fantasy / Schweiger

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Sonic Grade: B-

We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B-” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back when this record came out, but here it is anyway.  

“Another superb choice from Cisco. These shorter pieces really come to life here. The sound has more hall than the Mozart title they did and every bit the lifelike tonality and transparency.”

[UPDATE: None of Cisco’s records turned out to be transparent in the least, so that’s a big red flag right there. The music is quite good, so if you don’t pay much you won’t get hurt too badly by the mediocre sound.] (more…)

Stravinsky / Song Of the Nightingale / Reiner – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) 

Song Of the Nightingale / Reiner 

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

The Hot Stamper pressing has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND for the Stravinsky piece that takes up side two, the one on the TAS Super Disc List. The sound is BIG and BOLD, stretching from wall to wall, and so transparent you can clearly hear all the way to the back of the stage and then some. Trust me, few Shaded Dog pressings sound like this one!

Normally we list this record under Prokofiev, but, as usual, the Prokofiev side of this copy is not very good sounding. (In fact I’ve never liked the sound of Reiner’s Lt. Kije. It always sounded hard and sour like a bad DG to me.) (more…)

Prokofiev / Romeo and Juliet / Munch – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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Romeo and Juliet / Munch

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

Superb Sound on this Victrola pressing, with TRANSPARENCY, spaciousness and low level detail you will not believe. And plenty of Living Stereo COLOR.  

DEMO QUALITY SOUND, if what you’re demonstrating is the three dimensional quality of Living Stereo recordings. Amazing space, depth and width can be heard on this side one. And the music is sublime.

The low level detail in the opening and the amount of ambience heard in the quieter sections is shockingly realistic Yes, the recording is compressed, which led me to think that the entire record was compressed, but that’s not completely true. In some parts it’s quite dynamic. The quiet portions are very quiet; in a couple of places there are just horns playing off in the deep distance, followed by some flutes, and they sound very natural, just as you would hear them in a concert hall. (more…)

Prokofiev / Concerto #2 / Leibowitz / PSO – A Top Performance

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Concerto #2 / Leibowitz / PSO

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

This is a very nice looking RCA Living Stereo Shaded Dog LP. Some parts sound better than others but the real reason to buy this record is the performance. Frager is amazing here; he won awards for his performance of this piece in international competitions. The record also features Haydn – Sonata No. 35. The record is a member of HP’s TAS list.  

Prokofiev & Rachmaninoff / Piano Concertos / Janis – Kondrashin – Reviewed in 2010

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Piano Concertos / Janis – Kondrashin

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

This is a very good sounding and pretty darn quiet Mercury Plum label pressing of Janis’ superb performances, and a member of the TAS Super Disc list. Side one, the Prokofiev side, is super-transparent, with a percussive and wonderfully clear, correct sounding piano at the center of the stage. Additionally, the orchestra is not shrill as it is on so many Mercury pressings. 

If you’re in the market for quality classical recordings these days you know that finding a fairly quiet, not shrill, tonally correct Mercury is no easy task. So many are scratched or groove damaged, especially on this title — we went through three copies to find one that was even passable. The piano on the other two broke up like crazy whenever Janis started to pound away, which is something both works call for throughout. (more…)

Mendelssohn & Prokofiev / Concertos / Heifetz / Munch – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

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

This BETTER than Super Hot Stamper (A++ to A+++) White Dog pressing has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side one for the Mendelssohn concerto! It really has the Breath of Life. On top of that it’s quiet, playing mostly Mint Minus, something that we don’t run into too often with fifty year old Living Stereo pressings! Now I see why Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List. Most copies do not sound remotely as good as this one on side one. (Side two is a step down; it would almost have to be.)  

And the performance by the Boston Symphony under Munch is the best we’ve ever heard. The orchestra is on fire with passion for this music. (more…)

Prokofiev / Symphonies No. 1 & 7 – Seventies EMI Classical LPs and Vintage Tube Playback

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More Symphonies No. 1 & 7

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What to listen for on this album? That’s easy: The all-too-common ’70s EMI harshness and shrillness. We could never understand why audiophiles revered EMI as a label the way they did back the day. I chalk it up — as I do most of the mistaken judgments audiophiles tend to make about the sound of records, my own included — to the limitations of the equipment, bad rooms and poor record cleaning. 

If you had vintage tube equipment back in the ’70s — McIntosh, Marantz, etc. (I myself had an Audio Research SP3-A1 and a D-75a, later a D-76a) — the flaws heard on most copies of this record wouldn’t be nearly as offensive as they are to those of us playing them on the much more revealing systems that are possible today. (more…)

Prokofiev / Peter & The Wolf / Bernstein – What to Listen For

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More Peter & The Wolf / Bernstein

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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 copy of the album.

What makes this an especially good Peter and the Wolf? The timbre of the solo instruments — bassoon, oboe, flute — each of which serves to represent a character in the story. Shockingly lifelike, the tonality is unerringly Right On The Money (ROTM) throughout. That makes this pressing both a superb Demo Disc as well as a top quality Audio Test Disc.    (more…)