Classical – Works for Piano & Organ

Brahms / Piano Concerto #2 – Van Cliburn / Reiner / CSO – Reviewed in 2005

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

More Piano Concerto #2 – Van Cliburn / Reiner / CSO 

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

This White Dog pressing is the best sounding copy I’ve ever heard, much better than the earlier pressings! The piano doesn”t break up like it does on those, especially in the second movement. Finally the piano sounds right – solid and with the correct overtones. It goes without saying that this is an exceptionally good performance as well. One of the best of the Cliburn recordings.

Brahms / Piano Concerto No. 2 / Gilels / Reiner – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

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

This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity

This Very Nice Plum Label Victrola has excellent sound — sweet and spacious — but only if you reverse your absolute phase. The vinyl is quiet and, most importantly, this is arguably the greatest performance of all time. The LSC might be a tad better overall; they’re so darn rare it’s hard to know.

Brahms / Piano Concerto #1 / Curzon / Szell – Reviewed in 2006

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

More Piano Concerto #1 / Curzon / Szell 

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

This is a Near Mint London Whiteback Import LP with an excellent side one. Side one sounds about as good as this record can sound — smooth and sweet with a natural top end and plenty of deep bass. Side two is not quite as magical.

Britten / Piano & Violin Concertos / Richter – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Britten 

More Piano & Violin Concertos / Richter 

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

This London pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, the Violin Concerto side. Here the violin sounds superb — rich, sweet and natural. The brass on this side is HUGE, which is a bit shocking for a later London from 1971. Once you get past the ’60s the sound of most Londons is opaque and flat (which describes perfectly far too many Londons with Solti at the helm), but not so here. The stage is as deep and wide as any vintage Golden Age recording we’ve played recently, and we’ve played plenty.  (more…)

Grieg & Liszt / Piano Concertos / Rubinstein – Reviewed in 2011

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

More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

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

The strings are RICH in the best Living Stereo tradition, but unlike so many classical pressings we play, the tubey magical string tone comes with virtually no tube smear. The textures and overtones are fully intact. This side may in fact be pretty much as good as it gets; we don’t have enough copies to know just how good the recording can be, but it can’t be too much better than this, because this side puts most Golden Age classical recordings to shame.

This side one earned a grade of A++ (or better).

Side two, which contains the third movement of the Grieg and the complete Liszt Piano Concerto no. 1, is not quite as rich as we would have liked. It’s cut lower than side one, so turn up the volume if you want it to come to life. It’s also not nearly as transparent. We grade it about A Plus — a step up over the average Shaded Dog but not the equal of this wonderful side one. (more…)

Chopin / The Mazurkas / Rubinstein / 3 LP Box Set – Reviewed in 2004

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

More The Mazurkas / Rubinstein 

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

There’s some wonderful music and wonderful sound in here. The stamper should be the same with better vinyl. Side 2, Cuts 3, 4 & 5 are gorgeous! This music has so much soul, and shows Rubinstein at his greatest. Brailowsky on Columbia is also fabulous. You can’t go wrong with either one. A beautiful set that belongs in your collection. Chopin’s music is sublime, as anyone who saw The Pianist knows full well. 

I had the opportunity to hear Lincoln Mayorga himself perform these works from memory in a church not far from here. I am no expert on these works but I thought he played them about as well as they could be played.

Liszt / Piano Concertos 1 & 2 / Arrau / Davis – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Franz Liszt’s music

More Piano Concertos 1 & 2 / Arrau / Davis

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

SUPERB orchestral sound on side one, dramatically better than what you might expect from the typical Philips import pressing. The sound is BIG, rich, clear and present for the first piano concerto. The piano is percussive and weighty, and the strings have lovely texture — this is Top Quality Sound. You know it when you hear it! We rated side one Super Hot: A++. No other side of any copy in our shootout scored higher. 

Liszt wrote two of the greatest piano concertos of all time and they are both here, played to near perfection by Claudio Arrau.

This is a BRAND NEW Philips LP that we cracked open ourselves and were shocked — SHOCKED — to hear truly wonderful orchestral sound. It’s rich, transparent and spacious in the best Golden Age tradition; remarkably, Philips still knew how to record a piano and orchestra as late as 1979, which just happens to be the date of this recording. Coincidence you say? Not really. (more…)

Beethoven/ Piano Concerto No. 3 – Gamba

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

More Beethoven/ Piano Concerto No. 3 – Gamba 

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

CS 6096 Blueback LP. This is one of the RAREST and BEST Londons I have ever heard. I think this is the first copy I ever played and it’s absolutely WONDERFUL. The sound is London at its best. What’s especially striking is the quality of the piano — it’s absolute perfection. The quiet vinyl actually lets you hear the quietest piano parts clearly, no mean feat when it comes to Golden Age recordings. I don’t know of a better Beethoven 3rd — this one sets the standard for me.

 

Grieg / Piano Concerto / Wallenstein – Reviewed in 2010

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

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

This Shaded Dog pressing has exceptionally lively and dynamic sound on side two, which earned an A++ grade and plays quietly to boot! The sound is BIG and BOLD enough to fill up your listening room and then some. Side one is strong as well earning an A+ grade and also playing quietly. The piano is clean and clear, and the strings are rich and textured, It’s practically impossible to find a Rubinstein record that plays Mint Minus, but this one does! And his performance of this wonderful work is superb, as is his performance of the shorter coupling works on side two (which actually have the best sound here). 

Living Stereo MAGIC. This is wonderfully recorded music. It has a very natural orchestral perspective and superb string tone. It also boasts a correctly-sized piano, which is quite unusual for Rubinstein’s recordings.  (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto #1 / Richter / Karajan – Another Audio Myth Explodes

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The original Large Tulip early pressings are the best on this record, right?

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth, as explained in the commentary for our recent Hot Stamper 2-pack. That pair of pressings was all the proof we required to back up our contention that either label can be the best on this classic DG recording. Original is better? Again, not so much. Original can be better fits more with our experience. 

To pull off this kind of Mind Boggling sound from start to finish we combined an amazing side one on the Large Tulips label with an amazing side two on the Small Tulips label. And what a finish — side two earned a grade of A+++, being a full step above even our hottest other side two, and we played a lot of copies, more than a dozen in fact. (more…)