Classical – Works for Piano & Organ

Brahms / Trio & Beethoven / Sonata for Horn and Piano – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

More Trio & Beethoven / Sonata for Horn and Piano 

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

This is an exceptionally good sounding chamber record on the RCA White Dog label, especially on side two, which earned a sonic grade of A++ to A+++. Side two has the Beethoven work for horn and piano, and it sounds about as real and natural as a chamber recording can. Side one is not quite up to the same sonic standards, but is quite good nevertheless, earning a very respectable grade of A+ to A++.

This title is so rare I had literally never seen one in my 25+ years as a dealer in audiophile-oriented recordings. The other bit of good news is that the vinyl is unusually quiet, playing as it does mostly Mint Minus. How many early RCA pressings can make such a claim? No more than five per cent I would think, if that. (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Concerto #2 – Rubenstein/ 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.

Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto #3 / Janis / Munch – Reviewed in 2007

More Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Piano Concerto #3 / Janis / Munch

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

Outstanding! Sounds just like the already very good shaded dog, in many ways better. (I don”t have that one around to compare anymore but this LP has that same natural, smooth sound, while being cut a bit cleaner.) 

We have two copies of this Victrola, both with the same stamper numbers, and this is definitely the better of the two sonically. It has more presence, more transparency and better dynamics.

Liszt / Piano Concertos No. 1 and 2 / Richter – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

More Franz Liszt’s music

Piano Concertos No. 1 and 2 / Richter

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

This A++++ Beyond White Hot Stamper 2-pack has sound that must be experienced to be believed! The finest Liszt 1st & 2nd Concertos we know of for performance and unquestionably for sound when they sound like this. More like LIVE MUSIC than any classical recording I have played in longer than I care to remember – both sides are so big, rich and transparent we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto. (more…)

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…)

Prokofiev / Concerto #2 / Leibowitz / PSO – A Top Performance

More Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Concerto #2 / Leibowitz / PSO

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

This is a very nice looking RCA Living Stereo Shaded Dog LP. Some parts sound better than others but the real reason to buy this record is the performance. Frager is amazing here; he won awards for his performance of this piece in international competitions. The record also features Haydn – Sonata No. 35. The record is a member of HP’s TAS list.  

Prokofiev & Rachmaninoff / Piano Concertos / Janis – Kondrashin – Reviewed in 2010

More Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Piano Concertos / Janis – Kondrashin

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

This is a very good sounding and pretty darn quiet Mercury Plum label pressing of Janis’ superb performances, and a member of the TAS Super Disc list. Side one, the Prokofiev side, is super-transparent, with a percussive and wonderfully clear, correct sounding piano at the center of the stage. Additionally, the orchestra is not shrill as it is on so many Mercury pressings. 

If you’re in the market for quality classical recordings these days you know that finding a fairly quiet, not shrill, tonally correct Mercury is no easy task. So many are scratched or groove damaged, especially on this title — we went through three copies to find one that was even passable. The piano on the other two broke up like crazy whenever Janis started to pound away, which is something both works call for throughout. (more…)

Chopin, Rachmaninoff et al. / Richter – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) 

Chopin, Rachmaninoff et al. / Richter 

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

This collection of WONDERFUL solo piano works, here performed by one of our favorite pianists. Sviatoslav Richter, has SUPERB Living Stereo sound, earning a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade on side one. On this White Dog original pressing the piano is present and clear, with no smear whatsoever. Although the sound is big and rich, without more weight to the piano — the kind you rarely hear outside of a live event — we could not award the full Three Pluses. In practically every other way the sound was Hard To Fault (HTF).  (more…)

Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No. 1 – “I’m Surprised You Parted With This One”

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

More Piano Concerto No. 1

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

Phil is a long time customer who shares my love for this powerful performance. He knows full well how bad most copies sound — he has a few of his own to prove it. When he saw this beauty in the mailer he did what any self-respecting record lover would do: he jumped on it. Even at $500 he feels he got his money’s worth, and that’s a lot of money for a Deutsche Grammophon record, the kind that no record store in the world would charge more than ten or twenty dollars for. If only we could find more like it… (more…)