_Composers – Bartok

Bartok – Music For Strings Percussion And Celeste / Marriner

The Music of Bela Bartok Available Now

Commentaries and Reviews for the Music of Bela Bartok

  • We surveyed a large group of pressings containing this work, and in the end Marriner’s reading from 1970 had the best sound and the best performance of any we played
  • Wonderfully textured string tone and huge hall space extending wall to wall and floor to ceiling – everything you want in a top quality orchestral recording is here, and more
  • To keep beating a horse that has been dead for years, this is precisely the sound that the modern reissue fails to offer the committed audiophile with top quality equipment
  • “… one of the best-known compositions by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók.”
  • There are about 150 orchestral recordings we’ve awarded the honor of offering the Best Performances with the Highest Quality Sound, and this record certainly deserve a place on that list.


Robert Brook Wants to Help You Set Your Anti-Skate

More of the music of Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

Robert Brook writes a blog which he calls A GUIDE FOR THE BUDDING ANALOG AUDIOPHILE

Robert recently recounted a story that aligned very much with my own experience.

Way back in the dark ages of the 90s, I was afraid to mess with my turntable, arm and cartridge for fear of getting them “out of alignment.”

Of course, I had simply assumed at the time that they were in alignment. I had followed all the instructions to the best of my ability, but it wouldn’t be until years later that I learned just how crude an approximation that way of doing it had turned out to be.

Robert writes:

For years, even decades, I was afraid to touch any of the settings on my turntable, only to discover that when I finally did, I wished I’d done it a lot sooner. Turntable setup has taught me a lot, and as I’ve gotten better at it and better informed about it, I now need to go back and revise the turntable setup guides I posted a few years ago, which are in need of revision and updating.

Here is the complete story. I hope to write more about anti-skate in depth down the road, but for now, check out Robert’s story and then return to this listing and scroll down to read what we’ve written about the subject to date.

System Sounding BRIGHT? 🕶 Might Be Time to ADJUST YOUR ANTI-SKATE

Here we discuss one of our favorite test records. Strings are one of the hardest elements in any recording — including pop and jazz records — to get right. They also make it very easy to spot when something, somewhere, is off.

Advice for using vocals on pop albums to tweak and tune your setup.

Way back in 2005 we discussed the four major imputs that go into setting up tonearms and cartridges.

Wherein we discuss the use of our three favorite test discs, while also providing links to hundreds of other records that are good for testing various aspects of reproduction.

These are the records that challenged me to make more progress in audio. If you want to improve your stereo, these are some of the records that can help you get to the next level.


Bartok / Concerto for Orchestra / Solti

More of the music of Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

More Must Own Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • Huge hall, massive weight and powerful energy, this is demo disc quality sound by any standard
  • The sound here is glorious, full of all of the qualities that make listening to classical music in analog so involving
  • There are many great recordings of the work, and we had plenty to choose from, but for sonics and performance combined, Solti’s Decca recording from the mid-60s could not be beat
  • “Solti’s Concerto for Orchestra with the LSO was one of the finest of its day and remains so. Highly recommended.”
  • If you’re a fan of Bartok’s orchestral masterpiece, this London from 1965 belongs in your collection.
  • Watch out for Solti’s later recordings for Decca – they usually have an obvious shortcoming which we cannot abide in the classical records we play

Solti breathes life into these works as only he can and the Decca engineering team led by Kenneth Wilkinson do him proud.

“Solti was regarded as, above all, a superb Wagnerian. His performances and countless recordings of other nineteenth century German and Austrian music were also well-regarded, as were his Verdi and his frequent forays into such twentieth century repertory as Bartók, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky.”

There are about 150 orchestral recordings we’ve awarded the honor of offering the Best Performances with the Highest Quality Sound, and this record certainly deserve a place on that list.


Bartok & Beethoven – Music For Strings Percussion And Celeste / Grosse Fuge / Ansermet

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

More of the music of Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • I’ve never been a fan of the Grosse Fugue, but the Bartok piece on side two earned a Nearly White Hot stamper grade, and it is one of the best on record
  • Clear and transparent, with huge hall space extending wall to wall and floor to ceiling
  • Vintage Decca natural and relaxed sound, with wonderfully textured string tone – it’s all here and more
  • “… one of the best-known compositions by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók.”

NOTE: our cover does not have the tear in the upper right corner shown in the picture. (more…)

Barber, Bartok, Britten, Respighi / I Musici

More of the music of Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

More Classical ‘Sleeper” Recordings with Demo Disc Sound

This Philips Festivo reissue LP (not as pictured by the way, that’s an original) plays Mint Minus or better and sounds GREAT! This is a wonderful record — I Musici is one of my favorite groups. They play with tremendous energy, enthusiasm and feeling, taking works that have been recorded poorly by too many others and performing them with gusto.

The ‘Ancient Dances and Airs’ is superb here, one of the best on record. Britten’s ‘Simple Symphony’ is one of the best I’ve ever heard as well. Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’ is good but you can find better if you look hard enough. Highest recommendation for music.

This is an Older Classical/Orchestral Review

Most of the older reviews you see are for records that did not go through the shootout process, the revolutionary approach to finding better sounding pressings we started developing in the early 2000s and have since turned into a veritable science.

We found the records you see in these older listings by cleaning and playing a pressing or two of the album, which we then described and priced based on how good the sound and surfaces were. (For out Hot Stamper listings, the Sonic Grades and Vinyl Playgrades are listed separately.)

We were often wrong back in those days, something we have no reason to hide. Audio equipment and record cleaning technologies have come a long way since those darker days, a subject we discuss here.

Currently, 99% (or more!) of the records we sell are cleaned, then auditioned under rigorously controlled conditions, up against a number of other pressings. We award them sonic grades, and then condition check them for surface noise.

As you may imagine, this approach requires a great deal of time, effort and skill, which is why we currently have a highly trained staff of about ten. No individual or business without the aid of such a committed group could possibly dig as deep into the sound of records as we have, and it is unlikely that anyone besides us could ever come along to do the kind of work we do.

The term “Hot Stampers” gets thrown around a lot these days, but to us it means only one thing: a record that has been through the shootout process and found to be of exceptionally high quality.

The result of our labor is the hundreds of titles seen here, every one of which is unique and guaranteed to be the best sounding copy of the album you have ever heard or you get your money back.

Further Reading

Bartok / Piano Concerto No. 3 / Kertesz / Katchen – Reviewed in 2009

More of the music of Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

This Super Rare original London pressing has EXCELLENT SOUND and lovely music.

The piano is especially well recorded, with the orchestra exhibiting the patented lovely, rich, rossiny string tone, with tons of depth and spaciousness to the sound.

This is the first copy of the album I have run into, and my first exposure to the Bartok Piano Concerto, which is actually wonderful.

Ruggiero Ricci / Solo Recital – Reviewed in 2011

More Performances by Ruggiero Ricci

Reviews and Commentaries for the Performances of Ruggiero Ricci

EXCELLENT SOUND and quiet vinyl on both sides of this London LP featuring the great Ruggiero Ricci performing solo violin pieces!

Side two in particular has a sweet, clear top end that really shows you the detail in the violin.

Side one is transparent and tonally correct but a bit dark, without all the clarity and sweetness of side two.

Violin sonatas by Stravinsky, Bartok, Prokofiev and Hindemith.