_Composers – Bach

Debussy / Clair de Lune – Compare and Contrast Sides One and Two

The Music of Claude Debussy Available Now

Album Reviews of the music of Claude Debussy

More Records with Side to Side Differences

This Shaded Dog LP has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND, if what you’re demonstrating is not a Hi-Fi spectacular, but rather a sublime presentation of an exceptionally sweet and natural string section in an orchestra, presented here on analog disc pressed more than sixty years ago.  

I can’t imagine a more beautiful record, both in terms of the program and the sound. This record is a wonderful example of what the Decca recording engineers were able to capture on tape, and the RCA mastering engineers were able to master from that tape.

Even though the album was recorded by Decca, it’s a superb example of Living Stereo Tubey Magic at its best. There will never be a reissue of this record that even remotely captures the space, transparency, sweetness and richness of the sound here.

Side Two

A++ to A+++ or better! Without more copies in hand it’s hard to know how good the sound can get, but we found it Hard To Fault (HTF).

This side has more extension up top and down low and more texture to the strings.

Side One

A++, although it starts out a bit weaker than that and only really gets good a few minutes into the side. (We hear this effect fairly often on the records we play. Noticing things like this is what we do for a living.)

There is some smear and it is slightly opaque as well.

You will hear what we mean when you flip it over and those two problems disappear.

The music is superb on this side. One could play this record every day for a month and never tire of it.

Performed by the London Proms Symphony under the direction of Raymond Agoult. This performance also includes works by Massenet, Faure, Bach, Tchaikovsky and Gluck.

The record you see to your left is a budget reissue produced by Decca in 1970 of the same recording, and on the best pressings it too can sound amazing.


If you’re a fan of classical music, this RCA from 1959 belongs in your collection. The complete list of titles from 1959 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Vivaldi, Bach, et al. / Concertos for Cello / Janigro

Living Stereo Classical and Orchestral Titles Available Now

200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

  • A glorious Living Stereo recording from 1960 of cello concertos on the early Shaded Dog label – this copy had Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, remarkably quiet for a record that is 60 years old
  • Janigro’s cello is immediate, real and lively here – you are in the presence of greatness with this copy
  • This record will have you asking why so few Living Stereo pressings actually do what this one does. The more critical listeners among you will recognize that this is a very special copy indeed. Everyone else will just enjoy the hell out of it.

(more…)

Mozart / Haydn – The Best Toy Symphony on Vinyl

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

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • An early EMI UK import pressing with STUNNING Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • The amazingly well recorded Toy Symphony on side two (which is fairly quiet by the way) is the real reason to own this record – you will be shocked at how realistic the toys sound, and how spaciously they are arrayed in the soundfield
  • These sides are clear, full-bodied and present, with plenty of live venue space around the players, the unmistakable sonic hallmark of the properly mastered, properly pressed vintage analog LP
  • The first pressing of the album I ever played, back in about 1995, was on the Japanese Soundphile Series, and it blew my mind at the time
  • Fast forward 25 plus years and now we know that, as good as the Japanese pressing can be, the real EMI can be even better.  That’s what shootouts are for, right?

(more…)

Bach / Brandenburg Concertos / Munchinger

More of the music of J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

More Imported Pressings on Decca and London

  • A wonderful 3 LP Box Set with stunning Nearly White Hot (A++ to A+++) sound on sides 1, 2, 3, and 6 and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on sides 4 and 5
  • The first five sides play about as quietly as any UK pressings from this era ever do
  • There are only two complete Brandenburgs that we like for music and sound, this Munchinger on Decca/London from 1959 and the Britten from 1969
  • When you have enough of each for a shootout, and can play them side by side, you hear the differences between 1959 and 1969, but choosing one over the other when they can both be so good is a lot harder than it sounds

(more…)

Bach – Partitas And Sonatas For Unaccompanied Violin / Milstein

More of the music of J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

More Recordings Featuring the Violin

  • With some Triple Plus (A+++) sides, as well as some Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, all six of these sides are the winners of our Shootout since there was no other performance of the complete works that could compete with the sonics of these Capitol pressings from 1962
  • Milstein’s 1957 recording on three discs in a lovely box simply could not be beat – fairly quiet vinyl too considering the age of the vinyl
  • The original pressing in this kind of condition — uncleaned, of unknown sound quality — easily sells for $1500, making the pricing here “attractive” for fans of Bach’s violin showpieces
  • The box is in excellent shape by the way

This vintage Capitol mono pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performance, and feeling as if you are listening live in Geneva’s Victoria Hall, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Bach – The Musical Offering / Münchinger

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

  • A superb Decca stereo pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • This recording is from 1976, more than a decade later than the one we recently offered on London from this conductor — the sound holds up though
  • Engineered by the brilliant James Lock at Schloss Ludwigsburg palace in Germany, you can feel the cool air of the recording venue
  • Karl Münchinger understands this music and makes it come alive – the Decca engineers are of course a big help too

(more…)

Bach – Musical Offering / Münchinger

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

More Imported Pressings on Decca and London

  • A spectacular Demo Disc recording that is big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic
  • Engineered by the brilliant Roy Wallace at one of our favorite recording venues, Victoria Hall, this is the glorious sound that has not been heard on vinyl (or any other medium) for more than fifty years
  • The Tubey Magical richness is off the charts on this copy – if you want to know what kind of sound wins shootouts around these parts, this pressing will show you
  • It knocked us out and it is guaranteed to do the same for you

We used to sell the Speakers Corner Decca pressing back in the late ’90s. It was one of the better offerings from that reissue label, and today would probably earn a sonic grade of B or so.

There is a world of difference between a reissue — even a good one such as the Speakers Corner — and the real thing, on either Decca or London press.

(more…)

Bach / Mozart / Two Violin Concertos – Laredo

More Violin Recordings

Hot Stamper Living Stereo Classical and Orchestral Titles Available Now

This original plum label Victrola pressing from 1965 has SUPERB sound on both sides. The Bach piece is a rich tapestry of strings spread across the stage and clearly separated left to right. There’s not much depth but that seems of little consequence; all the instruments are heard in their proper space and location. The tonality is right on the money throughout.

The Mozart concerto starts out sounding a bit opaque, but about an inch or so into the side it opens up wonderfully, with sweet, spacious, natural sound from there on out. Jaime Laredo plays both works superbly, and the Living Stereo quality sound brings his playing to life in a way that few recordings can.

Although never released as a real LSC, this Victrola pressing is every bit the equal of most of the better Living Stereo pressings. (more…)

Bach / Organ Music – Karl Richter

More of the music of J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

Hot Stamper Decca and London Pressings Available Now

  • Some audiophiles buy organ records to show off their subwoofers, and records like this can do that, but records this good have musical qualities far beyond simple demonstrations of bass reproduction – with this pressing you can feel the cool air in the hall!
  • With this pressing you can feel the cool air in the hall, something no Telarc or audiophile organ record can offer in our experience
  • We’ve played plenty of them, and it is our opinion that the more modern the recording, the worse it sounds, especially if it’s on an audiophile label — those are the worst!
  • Karl Richter understands this music and makes it come alive in a way I’ve never heard any other musician manage to do – the Decca engineers are of course a big help too

For those of you who think technology marches on — which of course it does in some ways — this 1956 recording (finally released in stereo in 1960) shows that they could capture the authentic sound of the real instrument with the equipment of the day. Maybe they could even capture it better back in those days. I certainly can’t think of a better organ record than this, and musically I don’t think there are too many organists in Richter’s class. (more…)

Bach / The Fox Touch, Volume 1 – Not As Good As We Thought, Sorry!

[The review reproduced below was written in 2010. Recently I have played copies of these Crystal Clear organ recordings and been much less impressed.

The ambience is a fraction of what it should be, and the reason I know that is that the vintage organ recordings I play have dramatically more size and space than these audiophile pressings do.]

A classic case of Live and Learn. As we like to say, all these audiophile records sound great sitting on the shelf. When you finally pull one out to play it, you may find that it doesn’t sound the nearly as good as you remember it, and that’s a good thing. That’s a sign you are making progress in this hobby!

Ten years from now, if during that time you’ve worked hard on your stereo system, room, electricity and all the rest, your Heavy Vinyl pressings will have flaws you never knew were there.

Our customers know what I am talking about. Some have even written us letters about it.


Our old review, mea culpa

    • White Hot on both sides, a DEMO DISC quality organ Direct to Disc recording
    • Full, rich, spacious, big and transparent, with no smear
    • The size and power of a huge church organ captured in glorious direct to disc analog
    • We’ve never been fans of Crystal Clear, but even we must admit this recording is Hard To Fault

Are we changing our tune about Audiophile records? Not in the least; we love the ones that sound right. The fact that so few of them do is not our fault. 

The methods used to make a given record are of no interest whatsoever to us. We clean and play the pressings that we have on hand and judge the sound and music according to a single standard that we set for all such recordings. Organ records, in this case, get judged against other organ records. If you’ve been an audiophile for forty years as I have, you’ve heard plenty of organ records.

Practically every audiophile label on the planet produced at least one, and most made more than one. Some of the major labels made them by the dozen in the ’50s and ’60s, and many of those can sound quite wonderful.

Who made this one, how they made it or why they made it the way they did is none of our concern, nor in our mind should it be of any concern to you. The music, the sound and the surfaces are what are important in a record, nothing else.

Richter was making recordings of this caliber for London in the ’50s. Clearly the direct to disc process is not revelatory when it comes to organ records (or any other records for that matter), but finding vintage Londons with quiet vinyl that sound as good as this disc does is neither easy nor cheap these days, so we are happy to offer our Bach loving customers a chance to hear these classic works sounding as good as they can outside of a church or concert hall.

(more…)