Classical – Large Orchestral Works

Bizet’s Carmen Fantaisie on Speakers Corner Vinyl

More Georges Bizet (1838-1875)

More Carmen Fantaisie, etc. – Ricci / Gamba

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: C

Speakers Corner remastered this title back in the ’90s and did a decent enough job; I would guess my grade would be about a “C.” We carried it and recommended it at the time. I doubt if I would have very many kind things to say about it now. We’ve played an enormous number of superb classical records in the last ten years or so, raising the bar dramatically higher than it used to be.  (more…)

The Rapture of the Purely Musical Experience

khachgayne_90209

 

This work is more often than not recorded with harsh sound. The exciting orchestration must surely be very difficult to capture on tape. But Mercury here seems to have managed to do it, a feat few others can claim.

This side one is truly DEMONSTRATION QUALITY, thanks to superb low distortion mastering. It’s yet another very exciting Mercury recording. The quiet passages have unusually sweet sound. This kind of sound is not easy to cut. This copy gets rid of the cutter head distortion and coloration and allows you to hear what the Mercury engineers accomplished. (more…)

Who Can’t Hear Differences in Sound from Side to Side?

rimskscheh_2446

 

rimskscheh_chesky

Audiophile Reissues of the Reiner/CSO Recording

Both the Chesky and Classic reissue pressings of LSC 2446 are just plain terrible. Embarrassingly the latter is found on the TAS List.

There is a newly remastered 33 RPM pressing of the album garnering rave reviews in the audiophile press. We will didn’t like it either.

Please note that in many of the reviews for the new pressing, the original vinyl used for comparison is a Shaded Dog pressing. In our experience almost no Shaded Dog pressings are competitive with the later White Dog pressings, and many of them are just plain awful, as we have noted previously on the site.

The “original is better” premise of most reviewers renders the work they do practically worthless, especially to those of us who take the time to play a wide variety of pressings, judging them on the merits of their sound, not the color of their labels.
(more…)

Finlandia – Striving for Orchestral Clarity with Decca and Failing with RCA

 

More of the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

 

sibelfinla_2336

The original RCA Living Stereo pressings we played in our 2014 shootout were not competitive with the best Deccas and London reissues.

Original is better? In our experience with Finlandia, not so much.

 

xxx

The record you see above is yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago. The 1961 master has been transferred brilliantly using “modern” cutting equipment (from the early-’70s, not the low-rez junk they’re forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound that only the best of both worlds can offer.
(more…)

Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) on Classic Records

xxx

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…)

Rodgers – Slaughter on Tenth Avenue – Arthur Fiedler – A Forgotten Classic

More music conducted by Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979)

More Rodgers / Slaughter on Tenth Avenue

xxxxx

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

This record is so good on side two it almost left me speechless. How is this title not on the TAS List? Why is it not one of the most sought-after recordings in the RCA canon?

Beats the hell out of me. But wait just one minute. Until a month ago I surely had no idea how good this record could sound, so how can I criticize others for not appreciating a record I had never taken the time to appreciate myself?

Which more than anything else simply begs the question — why is no one exploring, discovering and then elucidating for the record loving public the wonderful qualities of these vintage recordings (besides your humble writer of course)?

HP has passed on; who is fit to carry his mantle into the coming world of audio? Looking around I find very few prospects. But I digress. (more…)

An Extraordinary Recording of the Carmen Fantasie – This Is Why You Must Do Shootouts

bizetcarme_6165_1091228730

 

This London Whiteback LP has DEMO DISC sound like you will not believe, especially on side two, which earned our coveted A Triple Plus rating. The sound is warm, sweet and transparent; in short, absolutely GORGEOUS. We call it AGAIG — As Good As It Gets!

As this is one of the Greatest Violin Showpiece Albums of All Time, it is certainly a record that belongs in every right-thinking audiophle’s collection. (If you’re on our site and taking the time to read this, that probably means you.) Ruggiero Ricci is superb throughout.
(more…)

Chabrier / Espana / Paray (SR 90212) on Classic Records

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)

More Performances by Paul Paray

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

I much prefer Ansermet’s performances on London to those of Paray on Mercury. I know of none better. The famous Classic pressing of the Mercury is a grainy, gritty, shrill piece of crap.

I don’t know how dull and smeary a stereo would have to be in order to play a record that phony and modern sounding and make it listenable, but I know that it would have to be very dull and very smeary, with the kind of vintage sound that might work for Classic’s Heavy Vinyl pressings but not much else.

It’s a disgrace, and the fact that it’s on the TAS Super Disc List is even more disgraceful. Of course the lovely London (CS 6438) we prefer is nowhere to be found on Harry’s List, which should not be too surprising. Most of the best records are exactly that — nowhere to be found on his list. 

 

 

Living Stereo Tubey Magical Sound from 1958

This copy is WHITE HOT!

griegpeerg_rca_1508_1357735538

As much as I like Fjeldstad’s Peer Gynt on Decca/London with the LSO, I have to say that Odd Gruner-Hegge (love that first name!) and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra turn in the better of the two performances. To these ears theirs is more lyrical; it flows more naturally both within and between the individual movements.

Joy

The Oslo Phil also gives me more of a sense that they are feeling the joy in the playing of these works; I do not get quite the same feeling from the LSO. As we worked our way through more and more Living Stereo copies, the Oslo Phil.’s enthusiasm and love for the music became recognizably stronger, and, as one would expect, more agreeable and involving.

Our preference for this performance is of course a matter of taste; we cannot be sure you will feel the same. No doubt you have a version of the Fjeldstad on hand for comparison purposes, perhaps the Speakers Corner pressing (which we used to like quite a bit), but any will do. I expect that playing a handful of select movements from the two performances back to back will show this one to be superior. (more…)

Gounod – Ballet Music from Faust – Gibson – Classic Records Reviewed

Gounod – Ballet Music from Faust – Gibson

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

Classic Records did a passable job with LSC 2449, one of their better efforts, but of course it has almost none of the sweetness, richness and ambience that the best RCA pressings have, and they have them more often than not in abundance. Their version is not awful, like most of the classical recordings they remastered, and considering that the original goes for many, many hundreds of dollars, might be worth picking up at a reasonable price. (more…)