_Composers – Bach

Bach – Musical Offering / Münchinger

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

More Imported Pressings on Decca and London

  • An incredible London pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and fairly quiet vinyl for a pressing from its era
  • 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
  • A spectacular Demo Disc recording that is big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic
  • 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.

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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 – Brandenburg Concertos (3 LP Box Set) / Munchinger

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

More Imported Pressings on Decca and London

  • A wonderful 3 LP Box Set that you will have a very hard time beating for sound or performance — all six sides earned sonic grades of Double Plus (A++) or BETTER and 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 both 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

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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.

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Bach / Suites For Solo Cello No. 2 & No. 5 / Starker

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

Hot Stamper Mercury Pressings Available Now

  • With two Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sides, this copy of Starker’s legendary 1963 recording of suites for solo cello will be very hard to beat – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The original on the early label has the potential for better sound, and we have no problem with anyone that wants to put forth the effort to find a clean copy at a good price
  • All we can say to such a person is “Good luck!”
  • The muddy, murky, veiled and lifeless sound of the modern Heavy Vinyl remaster is nowhere to be found here
  • I would bet money that whatever version is currently available has plenty of shortcomings along those lines, which may be acceptable to the mid-fi crowd but is positively ruinous on the high-fidelity systems that our customers tend to have (or why would they pay these prices?)

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Bach / Britten Conducts Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos

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

Hot Stamper Decca and London Pressings Available Now

  • A MONSTER Double Album that simply could not be beat — all four sides earned our highest sonic grade of Triple Plus (A+++) and play about as quietly as any pressings from this era (late-’60s) ever do
  • There are only two complete Brandenburgs that we like for music and sound, the Munchinger on Decca/London from 1959 and this one
  • When you have enough of both 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
  • I much prefer Britten’s excellent conducting to his rather tiresome composing — most of his classical and orchestral works seem uninspired and academic
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Benjamin Britten’s interpretations of the Brandenburgs occupy a middle ground between extremes, and these tasteful performances should satisfy all but the most partisan advocates of one performance practice over the other. Informed by the musicological discoveries of the 1960s in terms of rhythmic nuances and appropriate ornamentation, Britten’s performances are rich with Baroque inflections without sounding unnaturally contrived.

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J.S. Bach and Franz Liszt – Bach and Liszt Organ Music / Richter

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

More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1880)

  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful classical recording with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • 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
  • 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 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…)

Living Strings / Morton Gould and his Orchestra

Living Stereo Orchestral Titles Available Now

200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

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I typed so badly back in the old days that it was actually easier to just dictate the short reviews we would put up for our records twenty years ago. Rereading this just now made me recall that fact, because it is either poorly written or dictated, and I am going to go with the latter since I hate to think I ever wrote this badly.

RCA Shaded Dog LP with good sound.

This is not in the top tier of Living Stereos, but it is a good record nonetheless. The first track is the Tchaikovsky Elegie which is lovely. Also Bach’s famous Air On The G String is also excellent. In fact all the music on this album is excellent. The sound varies from very good to pretty good. Living Stereo strings are hard to beat.

This is also a very rare title these days. This is the first one that’s ever made it to the site.

Handel, Bach, et al. / Pipe Organ Favorites / Rees

More Bach

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Side two of this exceptionally quiet London Blueback (CS 6102) has the Super Hot sound we love, with tons of deep bass and plenty of top end air too. It’s also incredibly transparent — you can really feel the space and appreciate just how big the church must be.

Side one is not quite as good, earning a single plus Hot Stamper grade (A+). It’s rich, smooth and big like side two, but not quite as transparent and not extending low and high the way side two does.

This album comprises a number of quite well known pieces by Bach, Handel and Elgar, so if you already have a plenty of organ recordings you probably don’t need this one. If this is your first it’s a very good place to start! If your system plays deep bass well, so much the better.