_Conductors – Mehta

Saint-Saens / Symphony #3 / Mehta – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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Symphony #3 / Mehta

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

This British London pressing is the winner of our recent shootout. We had three London pressings, all the same stamper numbers if I recall correctly, and this is the only copy to have Super Hot Stamper sound on either side. Side one is actually quite nice, with lovely texture to the strings. The sound is transparent and natural, two qualities that are in short supply on most of the recordings Mehta did with the L.A. Phil. in our experience.

We pulled out all the copies of this famous work we could find in the backroom and most of them were just awful. This is not an easy work to record, incorporating as it does an organ with a large orchestra. (I saw the work performed back in 2009 and it was magical. There is nothing like the sound of violins playing high over the organ notes below.) (more…)

Liszt – Les Preludes / Wagner – Various / Mehta

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Les Preludes / Wagner – Various / Mehta

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

This London UK pressing (not the Decca as shown in the picture) from 1967 has Hot Stamper sound on both sides. Some of what we’ve always liked about Decca/London from the period (mid- to late-’60s, in this case 1967) can be heard on this pressing: transparency; the texture on the strings; the natural timbre of the instruments.  

These London pressings are quite hard to find in our experience. The music is wonderful throughout, perhaps the reason that so few of these have found their way to the record bins here in L.A.  (more…)

Dvorak / Symphony No. 9 – An Overview of Mehta’s, Kertesz’s and Kubelik’s Recordings

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Symphony No. 9 / Kertesz / Vienna Phil.

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An Overview

We got off to a rough start with this piece of music. The early pressings we played were often sonically uninspiring, and that’s being charitable.

  • The London Blueback pressings with Kubelik (CS 6020) that we had thought were competitive with some of the better recordings we had on hand turned out to be generally disappointing. The strings were often hard and shrill, the overall sound crude and full of tube smear. These Londons cost us a pretty penny owing to the very high quality condition we require them to be in for our shootouts. All that time, effort and money was in the end for naught. A big chunk of dough was headed down the drain.
  • The Stereo Treasury pressing of this same performance sounded better to us than any of the Bluebacks we played but far from competitive with the recordings we ended up preferring.
  • The Londons and Deccas from 1967 with Kertesz conducting the LSO also left much to be desired sonically. After hearing the 9th on both London and Decca, we did a quick needle drop on the other symphonies from the complete cycle that Kertesz conducted and concluded that none of them were worth our time. The trade-in pile was growing ever taller.
  • Then some good news came our way when we dropped the needle on the Decca/London recording with Mehta and the LA Phil. Our best London sounded shockingly good, much better than the one Decca pressing we had on hand. His 8th Symphony (CS 6979) is also quite good by the way. This is surprising because we rarely like anything by Mehta and the LA Phil. from this period — the recording in question is from 1975 — but of course we are happy to be surprised when they sound as good as the ones we played.

The one that seemed to us to be the best balance of sound and performance was conducted by Istvan Kertesz, but not with the LSO. His recording with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1961, his debut for Decca as a matter of fact, is the one that ended up winning our shootout of a dozen pressings or so. (more…)

The Mehta Planets – Sealed with the Pioneer Booklet

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More The Planets / Mehta

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Factory Sealed CS 6734 with the super rare Pioneer spacecraft booklet inside the shrink!

There’s a very good chance this is the last such copy on the planet. I have never seen one before, and I remember when this record came out, so probably few were made with this special booklet included. I’m guessing it has about a dozen pages or so, and probably talks about the Pioneer mission to Jupiter.

“Launched on 2 March 1972, Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to travel through the Asteroid belt, and the first spacecraft to make direct observations and obtain close-up images of Jupiter. Famed as the most remote object ever made by man through most of its mission, Pioneer 10 is now over 8 billion miles away.” 

Can You Imagine Sound this Bad from a TAS List Super Disc? We Can, We Played It.

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More The Planets / Mehta

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This 2-pack boasts White Hot Stamper sound on side two for the Mehta Planets. Yes, it IS possible. Side two shows you what this record is actually capable of — big WHOMP, no SMEAR, super SPACIOUS, DYNAMIC, with an EXTENDED top. It beat every London pressing we threw at it, coming out on top for our recent shootout. Folks, we 100% guarantee that whatever pressing you have of this performance, this copy will trounce it.

But side one of this London original British pressing was awful. We wrote it off as NFG after about a minute; that’s all we could take of the bright, hard-sounding brass of War.

Can you imagine sound this bad from a TAS List Super Disc record? We can, we played it. (more…)