_Conductors – Fennell

Sousa / Sound Off! / Fennell / EWE – Reviewed in 2010

More of our best Orchestral Recordings

Sousa / Sound Off! / Fennell / EWE

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

This Mercury pressing is EXCELLENT ON BOTH SIDES, way better than the copies we played it against. It has a GIGANTIC soundfield — spacious and three-dimensional, deep and wide. The clarity is excellent and there’s a ton of energy. Those of you with tubes in your system are likely to get the most out of this music.

Many of you are likely to recognize The Liberty Bell on side two — it’s the Monty Python theme song! (more…)

Hovhaness / Sym. #4 / Giannini #3 / Eastman Wind Ensemble

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

These symphonies for winds are an audiophile delight. Mercury is famous for their wind band recordings and this is clearly one of their best.

The idea of a symphony performed only by wind instruments (with added harp and percussion) is novel, to me anyway, and I found the music nothing short of enchanting. One of the first wind recordings I fell in love with decades and decades ago was British Band Classics on Mercury with the EWO under Fennell. Whenever a copy comes in I play it and fall in love with it all over again. You may feel the same about this very record. (more…)

Holst / British Band Classics Vol. 1 / Fennell – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

More British Band Classics Vol. 1 / Fennell

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

This RARE Super Hot Stamper Mercury Mono original pressing has the kind of BIG, LIVELY, tonally correct sound that not one out of fifty mono records we play can lay claim to. If more mono records sounded like this one I wouldn’t be so down on mono all the time.

But they don’t. Most mono records sound SMALL. When you have big speakers, set far apart and far from the back wall, in a pretty good sized room, small is just not the sound you want to hear! Especially when it comes to classical music. I want a front row seat, and this record is a first class ticket to one.  (more…)

Holst / British Band Classics Vol. 2 / Fennell

More the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

More British Band Classics Vol. 2 / Fennell

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

Side one big, full and dynamic, with horns and winds that are never screechy. (Side two of this first LP is very screechy and not at all to our liking.) 

Side two of the second record has the sound of live music. Huge space, clear yet rich, this is the sound we were looking for! (more…)

Hindemith / Symphony in B Flat / Fennell – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Hindemith 

More Symphony in B Flat / Fennell 

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

This Mercury RFR pressing contains Hindemith’s Symphony In B Flat, Schoenberg’s Theme And Variations Opus 43a and Stravinsky’s Symphonies Of Wind Instruments. All three pieces sound quite good here, and we’ve rated both sides between A+ and A++ overall. The sound is very dynamic and spacious throughout in the best Mercury tradition. Mercury was also known for its top quality performances of landmark 20th century works such as these, and here, as expected, Fennell and his venerable Eastman Wind Ensemble do not disappoint.   (more…)

British Band Classics Vol. 2 – The First Classical Record I Bought as an Audiophile

More the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

More British Band Classics Vol. 2

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British Band Classics Volume Two was the first Mercury classical LP I ever bought. After hearing it at an audiophile friend’s house I went down to Tower Records and found one in the bin. I think the price was $3.99 for the Golden Import pressing, which of course was the only one available. That was what I had heard, so I had no idea that the original even existed, let alone sounded better and would one day sell for many hundreds of dollars. This was the ’70s, when you could walk into a record store and buy new records, and long before HP created a feeding frenzy for vintage Mercs.

As I’m writing this, I can picture myself in the store. I can still remember that the clerk who helped me find the record commented that I should have come in the week before when the record was on sale for $1 off. I certainly feel like I got my money’s worth that day. This album went on to become one of my personal treasures. I used to marvel at the way the wind instruments actually sounded like the pipes of an organ. (I wasn’t really sure at first that there wasn’t an organ playing somewhere on the record. I didn’t know much about classical music then. ) (more…)