_Conductors – Reiner

Ravel / Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner – Classic Records Debunked

More Maurice Ravel

Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked. 

There is simply an amazing amount of TOP END on this original pressing. Rarely do I hear Golden Age recordings with this kind of ENERGY and extension up top. This is of course one of the reasons the Classic reissue is such a disaster. With all that top end energy, Bernie’s gritty cutting system and penchant for boosted upper midrange frequencies positively guarantees that the Classic Reiner Sound will be all but unplayable on a proper system.  

Boosting the bass and highs and adding transistory harshness is the last thing in the world that The Reiner Sound needs. (more…)

Mahler / Symphony #4 / Reiner – Reviewed in 2007

More of the music of Gustav Mahler

Symphony #4 / Reiner

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

This Mahler work is very accessible and enjoyable. Lovely, smooth, sweet string tone. This, along with the 1st Symphony, are my favorites.  

Comparing the Classic Reissue with the white dog above reveals that Bernie Grundman got the tonal balance right (not a common occurrence), but the magic of the RCA string tone has mysteriously been replaced by the thick, glossy strings you might expect on a Phillips record. Consider that the same effect could probably be achieved if you were to buy a Crown amplifier and hook it up to your speakers. I had a Crown DC-300A in 1973 and I don’t want it back.

TAS List Thoughts about Festival – Harry, This One Is Out of Phase, Man!

More orchestral music conducted by Fritz Reiner (1888-1963)

TAS List Thoughts about Festival

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Harry Pearson put this on his list of the best Classic Records RCAs.

If you can reverse your absolute phase this record actually sounds fairly decent. Do you think Harry knows to do that, or even how to do it? I have my doubts. [He’s gone now so the point is moot, but I maintain it’s the rare reviewer who grasps these kinds of issues with anything approaching the depth and understanding required to be informative and accurate.) 

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…)

Brahms / Hungarian Dances / Dvorak / Slavonic Dances – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

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

The London pressing of this music used to be on the TAS List but appears to have been dropped at some point over the years. Not that I would notice what comes and goes on HP’s list, as I do not hold it in as high a regard as most audiophiles I have met over the years. For some reason there were those who tended to think it definitive or consistent. I can assure you it is neither.

The Brahms here (side one) is nothing special on this copy, but the Dvorak is SUPERB, sounding much better than the other Bluebacks we played and the Stereo Treasury copies as well. With Reiner at the helm both sides are lively and fun. (more…)

Stravinsky / Song Of the Nightingale / Reiner – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) 

Song Of the Nightingale / Reiner 

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

The Hot Stamper pressing has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND for the Stravinsky piece that takes up side two, the one on the TAS Super Disc List. The sound is BIG and BOLD, stretching from wall to wall, and so transparent you can clearly hear all the way to the back of the stage and then some. Trust me, few Shaded Dog pressings sound like this one!

Normally we list this record under Prokofiev, but, as usual, the Prokofiev side of this copy is not very good sounding. (In fact I’ve never liked the sound of Reiner’s Lt. Kije. It always sounded hard and sour like a bad DG to me.) (more…)

Various / Heart of the Piano Concerto – Rubinstein – Reviewed in 2008

More Living Stereo

Various / Heart of the Piano Concerto

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

This is an EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD SOUNDING Shaded Dog pressing with fairly quiet vinyl. What’s surprising about this is how transparent and low distortion it is. Just as with Destination Stereo (LSC 2307), the excerpts here frequently sound better than they do on the original complete performances. Rubinstein’s piano is solid and clear sounding, which is rarely the case, especially for his Beethoven concertos. Those almost never sound good, but the excerpt here for Concerto #3 is excellent. 

Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto #1/ Janis / Reiner – Reviewed in 2005

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Piano Concerto #1/ Janis / Reiner

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

This is a Minty RCA Victrola Plum Label LP. I used to think that the Classic was better than the Vic, and in some ways it may be, but I hear a lot of midrange magic on this LP that I don’t think you can find on the Classic pressing. [No kidding.] 

Side two sounds even better than side one. Burleske sounds especially good on this copy. (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Concerto #2 – Rubinstein/ Reiner – Reviewed in 2008

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Concerto #2 – Rubenstein/ Reiner

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

This is the earlier pressing, which stretches the Rachmaninoff piece over both sides of the record, resulting in a more dynamic pressing. The sound is tonally right on the money with the superb, rich, sweetly textured strings we have come to expect from RCA in this period. The piano has exquisite tone as well. This is a lovely, lyrical piece of music and the natural sound conveys the qualities of the work perfectly.