_Performers – Rubinstein

Brahms / Sonatas #2 & 3 / Rubinstein and Szeryng – Reviewed in 2010

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

3S/ 4S RCA Shaded Dog. The sound is actually quite decent when you INVERT the ABSOLUTE PHASE. If you cannot or will not do that, this record will not sound good — it’s somewhat hard and bright. It will never be a Top Shaded Dog but it is a good one with the absolute phase inverted.

This record is third in a series of masterpieces for violin and piano.

Brahms / Sonata #3 in F Minor / Rubinstein – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

More Sonata #3 in F Minor / Rubinstein 

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

This exceptionally rare Shaded Dog pressing has AMAZING sound on side one, A+++, with side two rating a nearly as good sonic grade of A++. I can’t recall the last time I played a solo piano recording that was this transparent and lively. It’s shockingly realistic; this is what a piano sounds like in performance.

Well, almost. Rubinstein’s recordings never manage to convey all the weight of a real concert grand piano — as if any home stereo could anyway — but this recording is still relatively full-bodied. What it is more than anything else is REAL sounding. You will quickly forget that you are listening to a record at all. (more…)

Saint-Saens – Piano Concerto No. 2

More Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

Piano Concerto No. 2

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

Harry Pearson put this recording on his TAS List of Super Disc LPs, and with good reason — the sound is wonderfully relaxed and natural. This is no Hi-Fi Spectacular, as is the case with so many of the records on his list. (Hey, we like our Demo Discs every bit as much as he does; just not the same ones. SR 90006 and LSC 2225 on Classic? Really?)

Side two of this White Dog pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound, and side one is not far behind with a sonic grade of A+ to A++. The richness of the strings, a signature sound for RCA in the Living Stereo era, is displayed here beautifully for fans of the classical Golden Age. It’s practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years. It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful vintage pressings to play it’s an art that will not be lost on us.   (more…)

Various Artists – Destination Stereo – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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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…)

Rachmaninoff / Concerto No. 2 / Katchen / Solti – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

Concerto No. 2 / Katchen / Solti

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

Folks, what we are offering here is THE SLEEPER Hot Stamper pressing of all time. Side one earned an amazingly good grade of A++ with side two every bit as good. The buyer of this album is going to be SHOCKED when he sees what pressing it is. 

For those of you who cherish pressings for their best sound and performances — as opposed to the typical audiophile collector who prefers the “right” original labels on his records, of course produced only in the “right” countries — this is the record for you.

Hold it up for your (right-thinking or otherwise) audiophile friends to witness before you put it on your table and BLOW THEIR MINDS.

How did this kind of sound get produced so cheaply, so late in the game? From what tape, by what engineer? It is a mystery to me, one that is very unlikely to be explained.  (more…)

Favorite Beethoven Concertos / Heifetz & Rubinstein / BSO – Reviewed in 2007

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven

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

RCA Red Seal LPs. DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND!

The first LP of this disc is the equivalent of LSC 1992 and sounds AMAZING. The mastering is right on the money. (more…)

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

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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 / 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.

Beethoven / The Five Beethoven Concertos / Rubinstein -Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven

More The Five Beethoven Concertos / Rubinstein

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

This original Shaded Dog Five Disc Box Set (LSC 6902) contains all five of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos, with sound that’s predictably all over the map, from White Hot to Not-So-Hot and every grade in between. Yes folks, we actually listened to every one of these sides in a shootout with other RCA, London and Mercury pressings of the same music.

The best sound in the set was clearly the Third Piano Concerto, which had sides that were Super Hot and White Hot. (more…)

Beethoven / Kreutzer & Spring Sonatas / Rubinstein – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More recordings featuring the violin 

More Beethoven / Kreutzer & Spring Sonatas / Rubinstein 

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

This Red Seal may be a reissue, but the sound is absolutely STUNNING on side two. The immediacy of the violin was simply in a league of its own, leaving all others in the dust. Add to that some of the sweetest, richest, most “rosiny” violin tone we’ve had the good fortune to hear, tonality that is as close to perfection as imaginable, and you have yourself one helluva great sounding work for piano and violin. The performances are extraordinary as well, as you might imagine from the likes of Szeryng and Rubinstein.

RCA is famous for its chamber recordings, which tend to be quite rare for some reason. Let’s be honest: we did not conduct this shootout with a dozen copies of the album. It would take us five years to find that many clean pressings. We had exactly three as a matter of fact: a shaded dog, this red seal, and the Cisco Heavy Vinyl reissue of LSC 2577 (admittedly a different recording) from a few years back. (more…)