_Composers – Rimsky-Korsakov

Rimsky-Korsakoff / Scheherazade / Reiner (LSC 2446) – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

More of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) 

Scheherazade / Reiner (LSC 2446) 

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

White Hot on Side One! Big brass, so full-bodied and dynamic. The solo violin is present and so real you will not believe it. The highest resolution we have ever heard for this performance. Hard To Fault (HTF). 

This copy is huge in every dimension, just as all the best ones always are, with maximum amounts of height, width, and depth. The transparency is also superb — you really hear into this one in the way that only the best Living Stereos (and other golden age recordings) will allow. (more…)

Rimsky-Korsakov / Capriccio Espagnol / Black / London Fest. – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

AN AMAZING A++++ SIDE TWO, presenting the complete work by Rimsky-Korsakov. The Capriccio Espagnol here is one of THE BEST on record. Not only does it have incredibly powerful DEMO DISC sound, but the performance is superb on every level as well. The energy and excitement of the piece are brought to life by Stanley Black and the London Festival Orchestra like no other you have ever heard. 

This beyond White Hot Stamper may make you reevaluate virtually every classical recording in your collection. The energy, size, scope and immediacy found on this Four Plus copy is easily superior to that of any other recording of the work we have ever heard!

What this album has going for it over the London/Decca with Argenta is an even more exciting Capriccio Espagnol, with orchestral power and vibrant color that rival the composer’s Scheherazade and arguably exceed it, compressing as it does its bright orchestration into fewer than 15 minutes of unalloyed brilliance. I would argue that the sound here easily beats nine out of ten copies of LSC 2446, quite a feat when you consider what that record is selling for these days.

Who can resist these sublime orchestral works? To quote an infamous label, they are an audiophile’s dream come true. Scroll down to read more about them.

Capriccio Espagnol

The Most Exciting, Colorful Performance of all time — Black gets everything out of this famous work on this London recording.

Huge Wall to Wall Demo Disc sound, with the kind of IMMEDIACY that would make the folks at Mercury jealous. We grade this side A++++. You will find very few Living Stereos and Mercuries with this kind of sound, that I can assure you. (more…)

Rimsky-Korsakov / Christmas Eve Suite / Ansermet – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) 

Christmas Eve Suite / Ansermet 

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

This Blueback original pressing has EXCELLENT Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides, with both sides earning grades of A+ to A++. The sound is rich and Tubey Magical in the finest tradition of London / Decca.

The Christmas Eve suite takes up the entire first side, with three shorter pieces comprising the second. Rimsky-Korsakov’s exotic orchestrations, much like those found on his wonderful Scheherazade, are pure audiophile ear candy from first note to last. (more…)

Chabrier / Espana – Argenta – A Speakers Corner Winner

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894) 

Espana – Argenta 

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Sonic Grade: B

This is a Speakers Corner Decca 180 gram LP reissue of the famous Argenta performance, a recording which can sound positively amazing on the right original London, but only about 2 out of 10 copies actually do. (And where in the world are you going to find 10 clean copies of a record that’s practically 50 years old?)

This pressing gets you most of the way there, on reasonably quiet vinyl, for a lot less money. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Capriccio Italien / Ormandy – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Capriccio Italien / Ormandy

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

This is a CBS White Arrows “360 Sound” LP with DEMO DISC sound and the BEST performance we have ever heard. In our experience there is no combination of sound and performance that can beat Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra captured on this Columbia record. Ormandy is on fire here! As good as the famous Kondrashin on RCA is (LSC 2323), the sound on both the Shaded Dog copies we had on hand and the Classic Records reissue (which is very good by the way) could not begin to match this wonderful pressing.

We’ve had copies of the album in the past, but they sure never sounded like this! From both an audiophile and music lover’s perspective you would have a hard time finding a record that holds this much appeal to both groups. (more…)

Various Artists – Destination Stereo – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

More Living Stereo

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…)

Rimsky-Korsakov – Scheherazade – A Classic Records Disaster

More of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) 

Scheherazade 

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

In 2009 or 2010, during our testing of the TT Weights turntable products, the record I played again and again — close to a hundred times over the course of two days — was a wonderful White Dog pressing of LSC 2446. The sound was glorious, some of the best reproduction of large orchestra I have ever heard.  

(Harry Pearson disgraced himself even further by putting this Classic Record on his TAS List of Super Discs.)

A week later I was still testing the system, and again using Scheherazade. A friend brought over his Classic pressing, probably the same one I would have sold him in the mid-’90s. Now we could compare the two.

It was a massacre. The sound on the reissue is simply AWFUL. (more…)

Chabrier / Espana & Rimsky-Korsakov / Argenta – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894) 

More Espana & Rimsky-Korsakov / Argenta 

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

This London Whiteback (CS 6006) TAS List Super Disc really IS a Super Disc, with SUPERB SUPER Hot Stamper sound on both sides. It easily bested the Blueback we put up against it, and most of the pressings of Ansermet’s performance on London/Decca that we like (CS 6438). (more…)

Music of Old Russia / Milstein / Irving – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

More of the music of Tchaikovsky 

Milstein / Irving 

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

This rare, hard to find original Blue Angel stereo pressing has exquisite sound. As we noted in our listing for Milstein’s Saint-Saens Third, it is the rare Heifetz album on Shaded Dog (or any other label) that could hope to compete with it.

We would rank this Angel recording/pressing with the best of Rabin and Milstein on Capitol, as well as the wonderful Ricci and Campoli discs on London/Decca. (more…)

The Tale of Tsar Saltan – What to Listen For: The Triangle

More Rimsky-Korsakov

More The Tale of Tsar Saltan / Ansermet

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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 pressing of the album. 

This is a work that makes extensive use of the triangle, and I don’t know when I’ve ever heard a better recording of that instrument. (I think there are actually two being played.) It’s incredibly sweet, detailed and extended, without calling attention to itself in an unnatural manner. When you hear it, you know it, and I’m hearing it in my head as this is being written. 

Want a good tweeter test next time you’re in the market for new speakers? Play a record with a well-recorded triangle. It’s a surprisingly hard instrument to reproduce.  (more…)