Classical – Works for the Violin and Cello

RCA’s Chamber Recordings

beethseren_LSC2550The sound is RICH and TRANSPARENT, and unlike a lot of RCA’s chamber recordings and this very side one, not dry. The tonality is Right On The Money. The performers are present and the transients of their instruments are not in the least bit smeared, vintage tubes or no vintage tubes in the recording chain.

Classical Shootouts

RCA is justly famous for its chamber recordings, which tend to be somewhat 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 at least twenty-five years to find that many clean pressings.)

What we had were quite a few other Heifetz RCA chamber recordings, as well as some favorites by the Quartetto Italiano and I Musici that we are very fond of and know well.

After twenty six years in business selling vintage vinyl, by now we’ve played scores if not hundreds of good violin recordings. We have no problem recognizing good violin sound (as well as correct violin tone, not exactly the same thing) when we hear it. In the past our top Hot Stamper classical pressings would go directly to our best customers, customers who want classical recordings that actually sound good. not just the kind of Golden Age Recordings that are supposed to. Now that we are able to do classical shootouts on a regular basis, we hope to have enough superb sounding classical recordings for all of our audiophile customers.
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Bruch & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Laredo – Mitchell – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More of the music of Max Bruch 

More Violin Concertos / Laredo – Mitchell 

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

Superb sound. The violin is wonderful on both sides. The Mozart is absolutely gorgeous; the best I’ve ever heard it.

The orchestra on the Bruch side gets a little congested in the louder passages, which is typical for records of this era.

Laredo plays these pieces beautifully. The Bruch is an especially romantic work and his violin sings sweetly and with deep emotion throughout. The Mozart is more spritely and he plays it with the light touch it requires. You will have a hard time finding a better violin concerto record. This ranks with the best of them.

Glazounov & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz / Hendl – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Glazounov & Mozart

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

Hot Stamper sound on side one of this Shaded Dog pressing, and even better sound on side two for these two important works of the basic repertoire.  

The presentation of the violin on side one is present, one could even say immediate. It’s not quite as tubey magical as the better Heifetz pressings I have played, so we are keeping the grade at a fairly modest A+. Those with “tubier” systems may find it complements your sound better than it does mine.

Side two earned a grade of A+ to A++. It’s richer and smoother, sweeter too. It can get a little smeared at times and also can get hard in the upper mids on some passages. Still, overall the sound is excellent. (more…)

Music of Old Russia / Milstein / Irving – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

More of the music of Tchaikovsky 

Milstein / Irving 

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

This rare, hard to find original Blue Angel stereo pressing has exquisite sound. As we noted in our listing for Milstein’s Saint-Saens Third, it is the rare Heifetz album on Shaded Dog (or any other label) that could hope to compete with it.

We would rank this Angel recording/pressing with the best of Rabin and Milstein on Capitol, as well as the wonderful Ricci and Campoli discs on London/Decca. (more…)

Bruch – Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Max Bruch 

More Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz 

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

Both sides of this Shaded Dog pressing of Heifetz and the New Symphony Orchestra of London have sound that earned the quite respectable sonic grades of A+ to A++.

Side one is tonally correct and lively, but suffers from a bit of the all-too-common tube smear, no doubt from the mastering chains and record presses that were in use at the time. (Most modern mastering chains and record presses are, to our ears, even worse, so this is not to denigrate the engineers at RCA in any way. It’s simply to say that with Tubey Magic you often get tubey smear.) (more…)

JS Bach / Suites for Solo – Cello Two and Five / Starker (SR90370) – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach 

More Cello Two and Five / Starker (SR90370) 

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

EXCELLENT CELLO REPRODUCTION and MOSTLY QUIET VINYL on side one, where you get Bach’s entire Suite No. 2 for Unaccompanied Cello. Side two has excellent sound as well but the vinyl is noisy so take this one at a bargain price and hear how wonderful solo cello can sound when recorded and mastered for maximum effect, live in your listening room!

The sound of Starker’s cello here is HUMONGOUS — it’ll fill up your room, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling! It’s also tonally correct from top to bottom, a quality we heard on NONE of the new Mercury heavy vinyl reissues. The cutting is super low distortion on this later label copy as well. This copy will show you in short order why these Starker Mercury records are so highly prized.

These Starker records are legendary for their sound, not to mention Starker’s way with this music. If anybody can make Bach’s solo cello pieces capture your interest, Starker can. (more…)

Mendelssohn & Prokofiev / Concertos / Heifetz / Munch – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

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

This BETTER than Super Hot Stamper (A++ to A+++) White Dog pressing has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side one for the Mendelssohn concerto! It really has the Breath of Life. On top of that it’s quiet, playing mostly Mint Minus, something that we don’t run into too often with fifty year old Living Stereo pressings! Now I see why Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List. Most copies do not sound remotely as good as this one on side one. (Side two is a step down; it would almost have to be.)  

And the performance by the Boston Symphony under Munch is the best we’ve ever heard. The orchestra is on fire with passion for this music. (more…)

Mozart / Quintet – Piano + Winds & Trio – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

Quintet – Piano + Winds & Trio

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

Yes, you can expect to find White Hot DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side one of this Blueback pressing (CS 6109), possibly the best sound Decca/London ever achieved in the chamber music format. It’s hard to imagine these five instruments sounding much better than they do here. And the sound for the Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Viola on side two is nearly as good, earning a sonic grade of A++. 

The record is vastly underrated in the famous Moon/ Grey book. No doubt they had a mediocre stamper — how many copies of every title could they possibly have played? — but this is anything but.

I have never heard better staging for a chamber work of this kind. All five instruments are so clearly set apart from each other and tonally correct that it is nothing less than fascinating to be able to follow each instrument as it weaves its way through the score. (more…)

Dvorak / Cello Concerto – Munch / Boston – Hard to Recommend in Living Stereo

More Antonin Dvorak

More Munch / Boston

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I have never heard a copy of this record sound better than decent. This title is very unlikely to have the wonderful sound of the best Living Stereo pressings that you can find on our site, each of which has been carefully evaluated to the highest standards.

If you can get one for cheap, go for it. Otherwise I would pass.

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…)