Classical – Large Orchestral Works

Prokofiev / Love for Three Oranges Suite / Dorati – Classic Records Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F 

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked. 

Dreadful sound. The Mercury series on Classic is a complete disaster. 

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs but is has since been replaced by another Heavy Vinyl reissue.

“Whether you prefer the fabulous bass dynamics and savage paganism of the Scythian Suite, the colorful and captivating sound-portrait of the fairy tale Love for Three Oranges Suite, Dorati’s super-charged readings of these scores are unsurpassed. Acclaimed by critics and audiophiles alike as among the very best of the best Mercury’s, this dramatic and riveting combination of Prokofiev, Dorati and Mercury Living Presence is a sure winner.” – Classic Records   

Tchaikovsky / Sleeping Beauty / Ansermet / 3 LP Box Set

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

Big Decca sound! Powerful deep bass. Beautiful string tone and sharply articulated brass sound. This is a wonderful record. Ansermet is of course a master of the ballet. The performance here is outstanding, perhaps even definitive.

Haydn / Symphonies No. 89 & 90 / Somogyi – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

More Symphonies No. 89 & 90 / Somogyi

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

This White Hot Stamper side two (Symphony 90) is some of the BEST SOUND we have ever heard for any Haydn Symphony, and recently we heard some awfully good ones such as those performed by Dorati for Mercury. I rank these performances right up there with Dorati’s, and on this side two I would have to say that the sound found on this early Westminster pressing (WST 17043) is EVEN BETTER than the sound of that Hot Stamper Merc. This pressing is nothing short of SUPERB in every way. Who knew?  (more…)

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne – Fiedler – Reviewed in 2005

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

Superb sound! The top end of this record is PERFECTION. When you hear all the percussion instruments, the tambourines, triangles, wood blocks they just sound so lovely. The overall sound is rich and sweet, just like a good vintage RCA should sound. Some may find the sound colored, but I find it enchanting.

Side two, however, sounded fairly unpleasant when I first played it. As I listened more and more, I came to the realization that the absolute phase was probably inverted. The orchestra, rather than being back behind the speakers where they belong, was coming AT me, a sure sign that something is funny. One way to think about it is the sound stage becomes convex instead of concave.

So I switched my headshell leads and sure enough everything got much better — the orchestra now had depth and the strings became less forward and shrill, and the horns took on more body and had less of that blary quality they sometimes do. (more…)

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Fiedler – Our Shootout Winner from 2004

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

Hot Stamper Copy! 11S/ 10S are the best stampers for this amazing DEMONSTRATION QUALITY record!

M-/ E+++. Side 1 plays nearly NM without a pop! Side 2 opens with a half inch scratch. But think about it — isn’t one side about the right amount for this kind of music? Do you really need to play side 2 after hearing side 1? This copy gives you a good portion of the music with AMAZINGLY GOOD SOUND.

This 1954 2-track recording is RCA’s first stereo recording of the work. 1954. Can you believe it? Two mics and two channels and it blows away 99% of all the classical recordings ever done! Some old record collectors and tube equipment lovers (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be. This record proves it.

Gounod / Borodin / World of Ballet / Gibson / Ansermet – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

Side one contains one of the most famous and sought-after pieces of music in the entire Living Stereo catalog, the wonderful Faust Ballet Music that takes up side one of LSC 2449. (The Carmen that makes up side two of the original Shaded Dog has never impressed us sonically. There are so many better recordings of the piece, the Ansermet recording on London being one of the best.)  (more…)

Mozart / Eine Kleine Nachtmusik / Walter – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik / Walter

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

This Odyssey budget pressing has long been favorite of ours here at Better Records. It’s too bad that most of them don’t sound very good, with the shrill, hard string tone we’ve come to expect from Columbia in the ’60s. Fortunately this pressing does not have that problem! We played a number of these recently, and this copy was the best of them all on BOTH sides! Side one is really rich and warm with lovely, smooth strings that don’t get shrill. It’s very hard to believe that there’s a much better sounding copy out there. Side one of course has the complete Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.    (more…)

Holst / The Planets / Steinberg – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

More the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

More The Planets / Steinberg

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

Side one here is AGAIG, as good as it gets. It shows the listener more of everything that’s wonderful about this wondrous work. Side two is very nearly as good, and was only beaten slightly by one other copy in our shootout. This pressing gives you the complete work in the best sound we can find. 

This was one long shootout, two and a half years in the making. And I spent at least ten years before that collecting enough copies to be able to find some pattern in the stampers that clued me in as to what to look for. It was a long time coming but we expect you will find it was all worth it in the end. This music is so important and moving; it belongs in every audiophile’s collection. To get Steinberg’s version into your collection has not been easy, until now. This is the one. 

Mussorgsky et al. / Night On Bare Mountain CS 6785 / Solti – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More of the music of Modest Mussorgsky

Night On Bare Mountain CS 6785 / Solti

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

Released as Romantic Russia by Decca in 1967, this London can also be found with a different cover and a different catalog number, CS 6503.

DEMO QUALITY SOUND on side one — in some ways. Don’t go looking for the Tubey Magic of an earlier era. What you get instead is super-low distortion, full-bandwidth sound with deep powerful bass and more transparency than most later Londons.

Solti is clearly the man for this music! He’s on fire with this fiery material. THIS is the way you want to hear Russian Orchestral Showpieces — played with verve and dynamically ALIVE.  (more…)

Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux / Vienna Phil

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

More Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux / Vienna Phil 

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

Gorgeous Golden Age Tubey Magical strings, lovely hall acoustics. The size and power of a large orchestra in Living Stereo sound. One of our favorite performances of Berlioz’s masterwork.

One of our favorite performances of Berlioz’s masterwork debuts on the site in spectacular fashion, with Super Hot Stamper 1960 Living Stereo sound on both sides. The vinyl is lightly ticky, typical for RCA from this era, with no scratches and no Inner Groove Distortion.

This is a piece that’s difficult to squeeze onto two sides of a single LP, clocking in as it does at around 45 minutes, which means that the mastering engineer has three options when cutting the record: compress the dynamics, lower the level, or filter out the deep bass. The RCA mastering engineer for this pressing managed to hold on to the powerful dynamics captured by the Decca (as far as I know) recording team, seemingly without doing harm to dynamics, levels or deep bass. How, I have no idea. (more…)