_Composers – Dvorak

Stick with Stereo on the Dvorak & Glazounov Violin Concertos with Milstein

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)

More of the Music of Alexander Glazounov (1865-1936)

More Recordings Featuring the Violin

Stick with stereo on this album.

The Mono pressings — at least the ones we’ve played — aren’t worth anybody’s time (scratch that: any audiophile’s time).

TRACK LISTING

Dvorak: Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53

Glazounov: Concerto in A Minor, Op. 82


This record sounds best this way:

Mono or Stereo? Stereo! 

On the Right Domestic Pressing 

On the Right Early Pressing

Dvorak / Violin Concerto – A Killer Philips Recording

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)

More Recordings Featuring the Violin

  • This Philips import pressing of Dvorak’s classical masterpieces boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from the first note to the last
  • The orchestral passages are rich and sweet, the violin present, its harmonics gloriously intact
  • We audiophiles are fortunate indeed that a violinist of Accardo’s skill and taste recorded this piece for Philips at a time when their recording technology was still capable of capturing the sound of his violin in rich, warm, sweet, clear ANALOG
  • A SUPERB performance from Salvatore Accardo, certainly competitive with the best we have heard – we know of none better

Yes, it was still possible to record classical music properly in 1980, though not many labels managed to pull it off. (Londons from this era are especially opaque and airless. We find them as irritating and frustrating as most of the Heavy Vinyl releases being foisted on the audiophile public these days.)

The orchestral passages are rich and sweet, the violin present, its harmonic colors gloriously intact. This is still ANALOG, with the better copies displaying much of the Tubey Magic of ’50s and ’60s vinyl without as much compressor distortion (the Achilles’ heel of so many of the great recordings from the Golden Era).

Accardo is an accomplished performer of the works of Paganini, but those recordings are on DG and we would not expect them to be of acceptable audio quality for our customers. We will investigate further of course, as Paganini’s works for violin are some of the most sublime in the repertoire.

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Dvorak / Symphony No. 9 – An Overview of Decca’s Recordings

This commentary was written close to a decade ago, when we were first trying to figure out which pressings and performances of the work were worth pursuing.

Please to enjoy.

We got off to a rough start with this piece of music. The early pressings we played were often sonically uninspiring, and that’s being charitable.

The London pressings with Kubelik (CS 6020) that we had thought were competitive with some of the better recordings we had on hand turned out to be disappointing. The strings were often hard and shrill, the overall sound crude and full of tube smear.

These Londons cost us a pretty penny owing to the high quality condition we require them to be in for our shootouts. In the end, all that time, effort and money was for naught. A big chunk of dough was headed down the drain.

The Stereo Treasury pressing of this same performance sounded better to us than any of the Bluebacks we played but far from competitive with the recordings we ended up preferring.

The Londons and Deccas from 1967 with Kertesz conducting the LSO also left much to be desired sonically. After hearing the 9th on both London and Decca, we did a quick needle drop on the other symphonies from the complete cycle that Kertesz conducted and concluded that none of them were worth our time.

The trade-in pile was growing ever taller.

Then some good news came our way when we dropped the needle on the Decca/London recording with Mehta and the LA Phil. Our best London sounded shockingly good, much better than the one Decca pressing we had on hand.

His 8th Symphony (CS 6979) is also quite good by the way.

This is surprising because we rarely like anything by Mehta and the LA Phil. from this period — the recording in question is from 1975 — but of course we are happy to be surprised when the recordings sound as good as the ones we played.

The one that seemed to us to be the best balance of sound and performance was conducted by Istvan Kertesz, but not with the LSO.

His recording with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1961, his debut for Decca as a matter of fact, is the one that ended up winning our shootout of a dozen pressings or so.

You may be aware that Speakers Corner remastered this recording  in the ’90s. We carried it and recommended it highly back in the day when we carried those kinds of records.

We prefer a later pressing of the recording though, not the original. You can find the one we like on this very blog by doing a quick search for the music of Dvorak.

Here are more reviews of music conducted by Kertesz, a man whose work we very much admire.

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Dvorak / Cello Concerto – Hard to Recommend in Living Stereo or on Heavy Vinyl

More Bad Sounding RCA Shaded Dog Pressings

Hot Stamper Living Stereo Titles Available Now

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 recommend that you pass if what you are looking for is audiophile quality sound.

Perhaps the poor recording quality (I’m guessing; obviously I’ve never heard the master tape) explains the poor sound of the Classic Records remastered version from 1994.

Not that that stopped anybody from buying those awful 180 gram pressings! They may have been mastered by one of the greats, Bernie Grundman, but he was well past his prime when he was working for that awful label, as we explain here.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

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The Dvorak Violin Concerto with Accardo – Was Sound This Good Still Possible in 1980?

You’ll find amazing nearly White Hot Stamper sound on side two of this exceptionally quiet Philips recording.

Yes, it was still possible to record classical music properly in 1980, though few labels managed to do it.

A SUPERB performance from Salvatore Accardo, certainly competitive with the best we have heard.

Yes, it was still possible to record classical music properly in 1980, though not many labels managed to pull it off. (Londons from this era are especially opaque and airless. We find them as irritating and frustrating as most of the Heavy Vinyl releases being foisted on the audiophile public today.) (more…)

Overtures and Dances / Reiner

More Johann Strauss

This is a very old commentary. Lately every copy of this record that we have auditioned has left us wondering: where is the appeal?

Take this review with a large grain of salt and don’t spend a lot of money on this title unless you can easily return it.

This RCA Pink Label TAS List LP plays Mint Minus. Side one of this record sounds AMAZING, especially the Dvorak piece.

Here are the comments for the copy we recently sold on the site:

Superb string tone. This is one record that deserves to be on the tas list, and you have to give harry credit for going against the audiophile tide and recognizing a cheap, thin pink vic! Side one sounds incredible. I never recall hearing sound like this on this victrola! It’s demonstration quality sound!

Classic Records remastered this record not long ago and ruined it. This is what it’s supposed to sound like. (more…)

Dvorak / Cello Concerto – Hard to Recommend on Classic Records

Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

A Classic Records pressing (Remember the Sound!) that never sounded much good to me. But the original never impressed either, as you can see from our review of it.

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.

We love the Starker recordings on Mercury. Wish we could afford to buy some and do a shootout. At the prices they command these days, that is very unlikely to happen.

We used to recommend this Superanalogue pressing when it was in print. I doubt we would care much for it now.

Dvorak / Symphony #1 / Kertesz / LSO – A Bit Too Smooth

Hot Stamper Classical and Orchestral Imports on Decca & London

Reviews and Commentaries for Recordings by Decca

This is an IMMACULATE London LP with the old style paste-on back cover. We cracked open the factory seal just to make sure that this was a British pressing.

As we’ve said before, Kertesz is the Dvorak man! He recorded the complete cycle for London; many of those LPs have superb performances and excellent sound.

We dropped the needle momentarily on this title and heard sound that was overly smooth for my taste. If you like your records on the smooth side, this record might be more up your alley than it was ours.

There are a number of other Deccas and Londons that we’ve played over the years that were disappointing, and they can be found here.

Rhapsody! – The Story of an Old Fave We Were Wrong About

Hot Stamper Classical and Orchestral Imports on Decca & London

Reviews and Commentaries for Recordings by Decca

A great example of an album We Was Wrong about.

As you can see by the commentary below, I used to think this was a wonderful sounding London “Sleeper” classical recording.

That was many years ago – five, six, seven, I cannot be sure. I ended up acquiring a half dozen copies of the album or so over the course of those years, had them cleaned up and proceeded to do a shootout.

It did not go well. Immediately I noticed that the pressings I was playing were sounding clean, clear and lively, but much too modern, too much like a good CD and not enough like the good Golden Age classical recordings we audition regularly.

Those recordings, on the right pressings, will take your breath away.  Rhapsody! was leaving me asking myself what was wrong. The more I listened the more obvious the faults of the recording became.

The pressings I played lacked warmth, richness, sweetness, space, and a number of other analog qualities I won’t belabor here. Too much of what makes listening to vintage vinyl so involving was just not on these records no matter how much I may have wanted them to be.

The extreme top and bottom were also lacking, giving the sound a “boxy” quality. The presentation was wide but not tall. Of the five levels of sound we discuss on the site in various listings, levels one and five were not as evident as they should have been.

This is, again, what progress in audio in all about. As your stereo improves, some records should get better, some should get worse. It’s the nature of the beast for those of us who constantly make improvements to our playback and critically listen to records all day.

We cannot rely on our previous judgments. With all the changes we’ve made over the years, we can now clean our records better and play our records better than ever before.

That means that some will rise and some will fall. This one fell, pretty hard in fact. Not a bad record, but not a good one either, and far from as good as I once thought.

Below is our previous commentary.  All of this was true for my old stereo and room, my critical listening skills at the time, my old cleaning regimen. And by old I mean my approach from only about five or six years ago!

Things have changed, dramatically, and nothing in all of audio could make me happier.

DEMO QUALITY SOUND! This is one of the greatest SLEEPER albums of all time.

This London reissue from 1979 of recordings from 1978 in Detroit, the year in which Dorati became director of the Detroit Symphony has the kind of orchestral sound we drool over here at Better Records. Dark and rich strings — the basses growl just like the real thing. Dynamic. Deep solid bass. Fluffy tape hiss, which sounds exactly the way it should. This tells you that the top end is untweaked. (Almost all Classic Records have funny sounding tape hiss as you may or may not know. It”s a dead give away that the top end is boosted. Tape hiss is like pink noise: it always sounds the same, unless somebody has fooled with it. Steve Hoffman taught me to listen for this quality and it was a lesson important to my growth as a critical listener.) (more…)

Every Label Made Mediocre Records – London Released This One in 1963

More of the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)

The copy we auditioned was opaque and veiled, much like the Heavy Vinyl reissues that are flooding the market these days. Definitely not our sound!

Looking for pressings with audiophile quality sound and mostly quiet surfaces?

These Decca/London recordings are currently available on our site.

As far as we can tell, based on this single copy, CS 6357 is not an album worthy of a Hot Stamper shootout.

We certainly can’t say that there aren’t good sounding pressings of the album though. If we hear a better one down the road, we would certainly be open to the possibility of doing a shootout and offering the best copies to our customers.

Perhaps you have one you like. If so, please let us know. You can email me at tom@better-records.com

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