_Conductors – Monteux

Beethoven – Symphony #6 / Monteux – Reviewed in 2005

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

More Beethoven – Symphony #6 / Monteux 

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

1S/ 6S Immaculate looking RCA Shaded Dog.

This is a lovely sounding record, with a smooth, natural top end, the opposite of a hi-fi spectacular. Some may find it dull, but it’s actually correct.

Monteux has a wonderful feel for this symphony. His Beethoven in general is actually quite good. This music belongs in any serious collection. String tone is everything in the Pastoral, and Living Stereo gives you the string tone rarely found elsewhere.

 

Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

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

Presenting a first for Better Records: a White Hot Stamper copy of this CORRECTLY remastered version of LSC 1901, which just happens to be a recording from the earliest days of stereo, 1955! It’s guaranteed to KILL any and all original Shaded Dogs, as well as the more common reissues; White Dogs, Red Seals, Gold Seals, Victrolas, Classic Heavy Vinyl, you name it, this pressing will beat the pants off of it and in the process show you precisely what is wrong with each and every one of them.

Over the past twenty years we’ve played hundreds of early RCAs and we have sure never heard one sound like this, with so much richness, Tubey Magic, LIFE and CLARITY.

Where is the cutter head distortion, congestion and frequency limiting that ruins so many of the early pressings?

Mostly — I’m tempted to say completely — gone. We’ve played at least three Shaded Dogs of LSC 1901 since 2011 and all three were AWFUL. (more…)

Elgar / Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO – Reviewed in 2011

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More Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO – 2011

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

This famous Shaded Dog, containing two superb performances by Monteux and the LSO, has many of the Golden Age strengths and weaknesses we know well here at Better Records, having played literally hundreds upon hundreds of these vintage pressings over the last twenty years or so. 

Both sides earned sonic grades of at least A+ to A++ (with side one being just a bit better than that but maybe not quite A++). The sound is rich and sweet and full of Living Stereo Magic!  

The wonderful sounding tube compressors that were used back in the day result in quieter passages that are positively swimming in ambience and low-level orchestral detail. Tube compression is, in large part, what we mean when we use the term Tubey Magic. (If you want to know what Zero Tubey Magic sounds like, play some Telarcs or Reference Recordings from the ’70s. Or a modern digital recording on CD.)

But all that sweet and rich Tubey Magic comes at a price when it’s time for the orchestra to get loud. It either can’t, or the louder passages simply distort from compressor overload. Fortunately on this copy the orchestra does not distort, it simply never gets as loud as it would have in a real concert hall, clearly the lesser and more preferable of the two evils. (more…)

Ravel / Daphnis et Chloé / Monteux / LSO – Reviewed in 2012

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Daphnis et Chloé / Monteux / LSO

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

Nearly White Hot Stamper sound on this superb London Blueback pressing make it quite possibly the best complete Daphnis et Chloe we have ever heard.

Both sides here are BIG, with the space and depth of the wonderful hall that the LSO perform in. From my research it appears that John Culshaw may have produced the album, which surely accounts for the huge size and space, not to mention quality, of the recording. The sound is dynamic and tonally correct throughout. Without more copies on hand we feel it’s best to hold back half a plus on the sonic grade. That said, it’s clearly the best Daphnis et Chloe we’ve ever heard.

Please note that we should, but often don’t, make a vitally important distinction between two words we tend to use interchangeably. There is a difference between the sound of records that we’ve played and the sound that we’ve heard. The stereo, the listening room, our cleaning technologies and who knows what else are all undergoing constant changes. This means that we may have played a better pressing in the past but couldn’t hear it sound as good as it would now. The regular improvements we make in all areas of playback make sonic comparisons over time all but impossible. (more…)

Dvorak/ Symphony No. 7 / Monteux/ LSO – Reviewed in 2008

More Antonin Dvorak

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

This fairly quiet (M-) Plum Label Victrola has LOVELY, SPACIOUS, tonally correct sound. Monteux and LSO are wonderful here, so this one gets a top recommendation from Better Records. 

Elgar / Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO – Reviewed in 2005

More Elgar

More Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO – 2005

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

Near Demo quality. Outstanding sound. One of the best Enigma Variations around. The Brahms on the second side is also a treat. Better than the LSC if my experience from many years ago still holds up. 

See more recordings engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson
See more recordings made in Kingsway Hall

Brahms / Violin Concerto / Szeryng / Monteux

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND!.

One of the most amazing violin concerto records I have ever heard! Makes most of the Heifetz records pale in comparison. The performance is sublime as well.

When you hear the gorgeous texture of the massed strings at the beginning of this work you know you are in for a magical Living Stereo experience. It only gets better. Szeryng’s violin is as sweet and musical as any I have ever heard. This has to be one of the greatest Golden Age recordings in the history of the world. Its reputation is probably hurt by the fact that it’s so rare that few people have had a chance to hear how good it is.

If you love this work, one of the classics of the violin repertoire, you will be hard pressed to find a better performance with better sound. In my mind, there simply is no competition for this record.

Beethoven / Symphony #4 / Monteux

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

More Beethoven / Symphony #4 / Monteux 

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

BOTH sides of this early Plum Label Victrola pressing earned a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade, with the kind of string tone only found on the best of the Living Stereo releases and other top quality Golden Age recordings. Here is the kind of sound that Classic Records could not ignore, even though it was only ever made available as part of RCA’s budget reissue series, Victrola. Don’t let its budget status fool you — this pressing puts to shame most of what came out on the full price Living Stereo label.

And Monteux is once again superb. (This week we also listed his Tchaikovsky 6th recording with the Boston Symphony. Two finer records have rarely made it to the site on the same day. And both budget releases to boot.)

We played a large group of Beethoven’s symphonies this week and this was clearly one of the best, if not THE best. Well recorded Beethoven is hard to come by. The box sets we played were mediocre at best, and that left us with only a handful of clean early pressings. These records just aren’t out there like they used to be. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) on Classic Records

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Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

It’s been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as none-too-impressive, playing into my natural prejudice against early Living Stereo recordings and Classic Records themselves.

Keep in mind the Shaded Dog originals of this recording are awful too, as we make clear below.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Orchestral Music Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers. 

We’ve played at least three Shaded Dogs of LSC 1901 since 2011 and all three were AWFUL. A recent reissue showed us the light.

The size and scope of this recording is enormous, with the orchestral sections clearly staged wide and deep. Where is the old tube smear and compression and opacity? It must not be on the tape, because I hear no trace of it.

This copy is cut clean, its dynamics intact, which just goes to show how much better the master tape must be than we’ve been led to believe by the original Shady Dogs and the hacks at Classic Records (note: their heavy vinyl reissue is awful). (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

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This remastered Victrola version of the original Living Stereo pressing (LSC 1901) is guaranteed to KILL any and all originals — Shaded Dogs, White Dogs, Red Seals — you name it, this pressing will beat the pants off of it, guaranteed. I’ve played many copies of the earlier RCAs and I have surely never heard one sound like this, with so much LIFE and CLARITY. Where is all the old cutter head distortion, congestion and frequency limiting? It’s sure not here!

See more entries in our Originals vs. Reissues series

Side one is Super Hot (A++) and side two is EVEN BETTER, earning our coveted Top Grade of A Triple Plus! You may have noticed that not many vintage RCA recordings make it to the site with stellar grades such as these, so that makes this a very special pressing indeed. (more…)