_Composers – Britten

Britten / Debussy / Schumann / Cello Sonatas / Rostropovich – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

xxxxx

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

Both sides of this promo London Blueback pressing of piano and cello music have SUPERB sound. If you’re a fan of the cello, the piano, or chamber works in general, you will have a hard time finding a better sounding recording than this.

Notice especially that there is practically no smear on the piano — the notes are clear, with their transients fully intact, something one rarely hears anywhere but in the live setting. The tonality of the piano is also correct from top to bottom.

But the real surprise here is how unusually natural the cello sounds — more like the real instrument and less like the typical recording of it.

Normally when recording the cello the microphones are placed fairly close to the instrument. This often results in what’s known as the “proximity effect”, which simply describes a boost in the lower frequencies relative to the more linear response of the microphone when placed at a distance.

The famous Starker cello recordings on Mercury — you know the ones, the orginals and even the reissues sell for hundreds and hundreds of dollars — suffer from this effect, which audiophiles seem to prefer. (The Mercury heavy vinyl reissues, at least the ones I played, were ridiculously fat and bloated in the bottom. Audiophiles did not seem to mind much, judging by the apparently strong sales and the rave reviews I read. Bass shy systems, and that means most of the systems owned by audiophiles, probably benefited from the bass boost. Systems with lots of large woofers — at least in our case — would of course make the sound of these pressings positively unbearable. That indeed was our experience.) (more…)

Barber, Bartok, Britten, Respighi / I Musici

More Barber, Bartok, Britten, Respighi / I Musici

xxxxx

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

This Philips Festivo reissue LP (not as pictured by the way, that’s an original) plays Mint Minus or better and sounds GREAT! This is a wonderful record — I Musici is one of my favorite groups. They play with tremendous energy, enthusiasm and feeling, taking works that have been recorded poorly by too many others and giving them a new lease on life.

The ‘Ancient Dances and Airs’ is superb here, one of the best on record. Britten’s ‘Simple Symphony’ is one of the best I’ve ever heard as well. Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’ is good but you can find better if you look hard enough. Highest recommendation for music.

The Bloated Cello Sound Some Audiophiles Seem to Love

xxxxx

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate any and all cello recordings you may own.

On this pressing we were a bit surprised by how unusually natural the cello sounded — more like the real instrument and less like the typical recording of it. 

Normally when recording the cello the microphones are placed fairly close to the instrument. This often results in what’s known as the “proximity effect,” which simply describes a boost in the lower frequencies relative to the more linear response of the microphone when placed at a distance. (more…)

Britten – The Suites for Cello / Rostropovich – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Britten 

More The Suites for Cello / Rostropovich 

xxxxx

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

This solo Cello recording on London from 1970 has Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides, with a cello that might not be realistically portrayed, but is certainly portrayed POWERFULLY.

Honestly, we kid you not, the cello occupies all the space between the speakers, which, being about seven feet apart, makes for a cello that’s seven feet wide!

Now if you turn down the volume, you of course get a smaller cello, but the real fun of this recording is to hear the instrument in your room, front and center, with every nuance of its sound reproduced clearly. So we left the volume up.

The cello sound is full, rich and harmonically natural, with only the slightest trace of smear. In other words, it’s correct in every way but its size.

The longer and more intently one listens, the easier it becomes to accept the size of the cello as presented here. It stops being an issue. One finds oneself lost in the music, amazed at the preternatural skill of this, the most famous and renowned cellist of the late 20th century, a man for whom the work was written no less. (more…)

Britten – Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – Ozawa – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More of the music of Britten 

More Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – Ozawa 

xxxxx

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

The sound of this White Hot Stamper side two is SUPER TRANSPARENT — you can hear all the way to the back of the hall and then some! There’s so much ambience on this pressing it forced us to reevaluate the other copies in light of the sound we were discovering here.

As if that wasn’t enought, it had energy and immediacy we simply did not expect to hear. The sound is big and bold during the loud passages, but sweet and delicate when, for example, the woodwinds are spotlighted in the composition.  (more…)

Britten / Piano & Violin Concertos / Richter – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Britten 

More Piano & Violin Concertos / Richter 

xxxxx

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

This London pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, the Violin Concerto side. Here the violin sounds superb — rich, sweet and natural. The brass on this side is HUGE, which is a bit shocking for a later London from 1971. Once you get past the ’60s the sound of most Londons is opaque and flat (which describes perfectly far too many Londons with Solti at the helm), but not so here. The stage is as deep and wide as any vintage Golden Age recording we’ve played recently, and we’ve played plenty.  (more…)