Classical – Large Orchestral Works

Prokofiev’s Lt. Kije at 45 RPM – An Audiophile Pressing to Shame Them All

More Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

More Prokofiev / Lt. Kije / Abbado

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

This Japanese 45 RPM remastering of our favorite recording of Prokofiev’s wonderful Lt. Kije Suite has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND. For starters, there are very few records with dynamics comparable to these. Since this is my favorite performance of all time, I can’t recommend the record any more highly. 

Most of what’s “bad” about a DG recording from 1978 is ameliorated with this pressing. The bass drum (drums?) here must be heard to be believed. We know of no Golden Age recording with as believable a presentation of the instrument as this.

The drum is clearly and precisely located at the back of the stage; even better, it’s as huge and powerful and room-filling as it would have been had you attended the session yourself. That’s our idea of hi-fidelity here at Better Records. (more…)

We Review the Chesky Scheherazade

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More Scheherazade

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame Record and another Remastered Audiophile Pressing debunked.

Chesky is one of the WORST AUDIOPHILE LABELS in the history of the world. Their recordings are so artificial and “wrong” that they defy understanding. That some audiophiles actually buy into this junk sound is equal parts astonishing and depressing. Their own records are a joke, and their remasterings of the RCA Living Stereo catalog are an abomination. If there is a more CLUELESS audiophile label on the planet, I don’t know who it could be, and I don’t want to find out. 

Shostakovich – The Age of Gold – Another Mediocre Classic Records Pressing

More Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

More The Age of Gold – Martinon

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Sonic Grade: D

Another Classic Records LP debunked. 

It’s been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as fairly typical of their mediocre-at-best catalog, tonally fine but low-rez and lacking space, warmth and above all Tubey Magic. I don’t think I’ve ever played an original or a VICS reissue that didn’t sound better, and that means that the best grade to give Classic’s pressing is probably a D: below average.

We have a section for all the Classical Records we have reviewed on the site to date.

We also have a section for all the Heavy Vinyl Classical Records we have reviewed on the site.

We have a number of Commentaries specifically addressing issues we’ve encountered when playing classical recordings.

THE Gaite Parisienne to Own – A Classic Case of Reversed Polarity

The Music of Jacques Offenbach

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  • This amazing Readers Digest disc has A+++ Out of This World Demo Disc sound for Gaite Parisienne
  • The dynamic energy, clarity and power of this work come through on this pressing like nothing you have ever heard
  • But only if you can reverse your polarity – if you can’t (or won’t) just forget hearing this record sound the way I describe it
  • “This is unpretentious, well-crafted music, and while it will not appeal to those exclusively interested in serious listening, it is undeniably masterful within its genre.”

Amazing in every way! The top end of this record is clear, clean and correct. No other copy sounded like this one on the first side. When you hear all the percussion instruments — the tambourines, triangles, wood blocks and what-have-you — you know instantly that they sound RIGHT. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture – Alwyn – Speakers Corner Reviewed

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More 1812 Overture – Alwyn

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Sonic Grade: B

Excellent, one of the best of the Deccas. Better sound by far than the Classic with Reiner, although of course the original of that record is quite good. You may get better results if you reverse your absolute phase when playing this record. It’s been a while since I did it so better to check it yourself and see how you like it each way.

Our Favorite Tchaikovsky 1812 – Alwyn on Decca

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1812 / Marche Slave / Alwyn

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

A BEYOND White Hot Quadruple Plus side one – hear Tchaicovsky’s 1812 in Demo Disc sound. This is the most exciting and beautifully played 1812 we know of, with the best sound ever to boot on this copy. This is an exceptional Decca remastering of a superb Golden Age recording on very good vinyl.

The WHOMP FACTOR on this side one has to be heard to be believed. If you’ve got the woofers for it this record is going to rock your world!

Strings Are Key

The lower strings are rich and surrounded by lovely hall space. This is not a sound one hears on record often enough and it is glorious when a pressing as good as this one can make that sound clear to you. (more…)

Saint-Saens Organ Symphony – Disgraceful Sound on Klavier Heavy Vinyl

More Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

More Organ Symphony

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing. 

Yet another murky, smeary Audiophile Piece of Trash from the mastering lathe of the formerly brilliant Doug Sax. He used to cut the best sounding records in the world. Then he started working for Analogue Productions and never cut a good record again as far as I know.

On this record, in Doug’s defense it’s only fair to point out that he had only dub tapes to work with, which is neither here nor there as these pressings are not worth the dime’s worth of vinyl used to make them.

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

For those who might not be familiar with Klavier, they are a remastering label like Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs or DCC. They have remastered and released on vinyl a large number of titles taken from the EMI catalog, most of which are long out of print and none of which, to our knowledge, are any good. 

Mozart’s Wonderful Clarinet Concerto on Speakers Corner

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More Clarinet Concerto / Maag

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Sonic Grade: B?

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca reissue.

Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90 when this record came out, but here it is anyway. 

“One of the best of the Deccas. I raved about this one years ago when it came out. If I had to pick a record to demonstrate how wonderful Decca recordings are, musically and sonically, this would be an easy choice.”

Further Reading

…along these lines can be found below.

Check out our new section: The Better Records Hall of Fame for Orchestral Music.

We have a section for all the Classical Records we have reviewed on the site to date.

We also have a section for all the Heavy Vinyl Classical Records we have reviewed on the site.

We have a number of Commentaries specifically addressing issues we’ve encountered when playing classical recordings.

Mozart Symphonies No. 40 & 41 with Giulini


More Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

More Symphonies No. 40 & 41 / Giulini

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

Full brass; full, rich, tonally correct strings; smooth higher up, never screechy — what’s not to like? It was the best side one we heard all day.

  • Superb sound on both sides for two of Mozart’s greatest symphonies
  • Exceptionally quiet Mint Minus Decca vinyl doesn’t hurt either 
  • Giulini is masterful here, bringing both of these great works to life
  • The 1965 Wilkinson sound is rich and tubey yet clear (on this copy!)

Side Two (Symphony No. 41)

This side has wonderful space and clarity. The width of the stage is greater, depth is increased as well, and the sense of ease on this side is palpable.

Remarkably transparent and energetic, the performance and the sound are hard to fault.

On a side note, the recording of the 41st consistently sounded a bit better to us than that of the 40th.

Speakers Corner

They released this very title on Heavy Vinyl in 1998; it was one of the few Speakers Corner classical recordings we used to carry and recommend.

We knew it sounded good, but up until recently, when we started collecting and playing the better Deccas and Londons, we sure didn’t know it could sound like this! (more…)

Schubert Great C Major Symphony with Krips on Speakers Corner

More Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

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Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway. 

“Superb sound with a great performance to match. A TOP TOP TITLE in every way. This performance has never been equaled and probably never will be (on any format I can stand to listen to!)”