Classical – Large Orchestral Works

Chabrier / Espana – Argenta – A Speakers Corner Winner

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

Espana – Argenta 

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Sonic Grade: B

This is a Speakers Corner Decca 180 gram LP reissue of the famous Argenta performance, a recording which can sound positively amazing on the right original London, but only about 2 out of 10 copies actually do. (And where in the world are you going to find 10 clean copies of a record that’s practically 50 years old?)

This pressing gets you most of the way there, on reasonably quiet vinyl, for a lot less money. (more…)

Saint-Saens / Symphony #3 / Mehta – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

Symphony #3 / Mehta

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

This British London pressing is the winner of our recent shootout. We had three London pressings, all the same stamper numbers if I recall correctly, and this is the only copy to have Super Hot Stamper sound on either side. Side one is actually quite nice, with lovely texture to the strings. The sound is transparent and natural, two qualities that are in short supply on most of the recordings Mehta did with the L.A. Phil. in our experience.

We pulled out all the copies of this famous work we could find in the backroom and most of them were just awful. This is not an easy work to record, incorporating as it does an organ with a large orchestra. (I saw the work performed back in 2009 and it was magical. There is nothing like the sound of violins playing high over the organ notes below.) (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Capriccio Italien / Ormandy – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Capriccio Italien / Ormandy

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

This is a CBS White Arrows “360 Sound” LP with DEMO DISC sound and the BEST performance we have ever heard. In our experience there is no combination of sound and performance that can beat Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra captured on this Columbia record. Ormandy is on fire here! As good as the famous Kondrashin on RCA is (LSC 2323), the sound on both the Shaded Dog copies we had on hand and the Classic Records reissue (which is very good by the way) could not begin to match this wonderful pressing.

We’ve had copies of the album in the past, but they sure never sounded like this! From both an audiophile and music lover’s perspective you would have a hard time finding a record that holds this much appeal to both groups. (more…)

Mozart / Symphonies No. 39 & 36 / Bohm

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

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

This is not your typical DG, and as far as we’re concerned that’s a good thing! If you end up with this copy you may find yourself agreeing with us that it actually sounds pretty much like a good RCA pressing from the era, with the kind of rich, sweet sound that the best RCAs are famous for, and rightly so.  

The sound on side one is spacious and sweet, with good texture to the strings, far from the smeared, hard, steely sound that so many DG pressings suffer from. And side two is even better! More transparent, with better texture and even richer sound. (more…)

Delibes / Coppelia / Ansermet – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891) 

More Coppelia / Ansermet 

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

Very good sound from the Master Ballet Conductor, Ernest Ansermet, with only a few slightly bright passages marring an otherwise wonderful recording.  

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…)

Grieg / Peer Gynt Suites / Fiedler (LSC 2125) – Reviewed in 2008

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

More Peer Gynt Suites / Fiedler

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

Red Seal pressing with EXCELLENT SOUND!

Fiedler is wonderful here, which is to be expected. What’s unusual about this Red Seal is how good the sound is. It’s extremely transparent and tonally correct. It sounds to me like a flat transfer. Some tubey colorations would be nice, especially in the louder passages. The sound also lacks a bit of weight in the bottom end. But these faults are mostly made up for by the tremendous clarity and freedom from distortion that this pressing has. I doubt if the Shaded Dog has those qualities.

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.) 

Prokofiev / Symphony #5 / Martinon (LSC 2272) – Reviewed in 2010

More Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Symphony #5 / Martinon (LSC 2272)

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

This rare Shaded Dog pressing has an absolutely AMAZING side two. It’s transparent, with sweet (yes, for the Prokofiev 5th!), smooth and rich strings. Listen to how natural the woodwinds sound on this side 

Side two here is the fluke, since most of the time this record sounds terrible. But now we know how well engineered it really is. We have the copy right here to prove it! (more…)

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…)