_Composers – Grieg

Sibelius / Finlandia / Mackerras – Reviewed in 2015

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A shocking Stereo Treasury sleeper with a superb Shaded-Dog-beating side one. Side one is nearly White Hot – it’s exceptionally transparent and dynamic. Real Demo Disc sound and music on side one – spectacular works played with feeling.

This is yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago. The 1960 master has been transferred brilliantly using “modern” cutting equipment (from 1970, not the low-rez junk they’re forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound that only the best of both worlds can offer.

One of the quietest pressings we played in our shootout, if not the quietest.

Side One

More spacious than practically any other copy we heard thanks to an extended, correct top end.

This side was also very dynamic, and it gets loud in the right way, never harsh or screechy.

Correct from top to bottom, and there are not many records we can say that about. So natural in every way.

The brass is HUGE and POWERFUL on this side. Not many recordings capture the brass this well. (Ansermet on London comes to mind of course but many of his performances leave much to be desired. Here Mackerras is on top of his game with performances that are definitive.)

The brass is big and clear and weighty, just the way it should be, as that is precisely the sound you hear in the concert hall, especially that part about being clear: live music is more than anything else completely clear. We should all strive for that sound in our reproduction of orchestral music.

Side Two

Good clarity and top extension, with full-bodied, textured strings. Gets a little hot at its loudest but manages to stay under control and enjoyable throughout.

The opening track on side two, Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, is one of my favorite pieces of orchestral music. Mackerras and the London Proms make it magical.

Two Things

You can be pretty sure of two things when you hear a record of this quality: one, the original probably won’t sound as good, likely having been cut on cruder equipment.

And two, no modern recutting of the tapes (by the likes of Speakers Corner for example, but you can substitute any company you care to name) could begin to capture this kind of naturalistic orchestral sound.

I have never heard a Heavy Vinyl pressing begin to do what this record is doing. The Decca we have here may be a budget reissue pressing, but it was mastered by real Decca engineers (a few different ones in fact), pressed in England on high quality vinyl, and made from fairly fresh tapes (nine years old, not fifty years old!), then mastered about as well as a record can be mastered.

The sound is, above all, REAL and BELIEVABLE.

The brass has weight, the top extends beautifully for those glorious cymbal crashes, the hall is huge and the staging very three-dimensional — there is little to fault in the sound on either side. (more…)

Grieg / Piano Concerto – Curzon / Boult – Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the ’90s)

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Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

One of the best Deccas — superb sound and music that belongs in your life!

This performance also includes Franck’s “Variations Symphoniques” and Litolff”s “Scherzo from Concerto Symphonique, Op. 102”.

Sibelius / Finlandia / Mackerras / London Proms

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  • Incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – a superb Shaded-Dog-beating Finlandia
  • Both sides are big, clear, transparent and dynamic – no Heavy Vinyl pressing can do what this record is doing
  • Yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago
  • Demo Disc sound and music – spectacular works played with feeling

Yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago. The 1961 master has been transferred brilliantly using “modern” cutting equipment (from the early-’70s, not the low-rez junk they’re forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound that only the best of both worlds can offer.

The brass is HUGE and POWERFUL. Not many recordings capture the brass this well. (Ansermet on London comes to mind of course but many of his performances leave much to be desired. Here Mackerras is on top of his game with performances that are definitive.)

The opening track on side two, Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, is one of my favorite pieces of orchestral music. Mackerras and the London Proms make it magical. (more…)

Grieg / Piano Concerto – Curzon

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This is a WONDERFUL London Whiteback pressing of works by Grieg and Franck, with some of the most natural piano concerto sound we’ve heard around here in quite a while. We had a couple of copies of this one — two to be exact — and this was clearly the better sounding of the two.

The recording has a mid-hall perspective, more like the sound of live music than the famous Rubinstein recording for RCA, just to take one example. The piano is warm and full-bodied, the strings rich and sweet — who can ask for more?

Transparency and an extended top end were both key to the better sounding copies. You really hear into the soundfield with the best pressings, and all the harmonics are clear and right when the top end is correct. (more…)

The Music of Edvard Grieg on Golden Age Vinyl – These Four Didn’t Make the Grade

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These are just some of the recordings of the music of Edvard Grieg that we’ve auditioned and found wanting. Without going into specifics we’ll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place on our site, in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records. 

More Pressings of Grieg’s Music We’ve Reviewed

Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl and the Loss of Transparency

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We recently gave the Heavy Vinyl pressing from Speakers Corner, the same one that we had previously recommended back  in the ’90s, a sonic grade of C+ in our current Heavy Vinyl Scorecard section. To our ears now it has many more shortcomings than it did back then, which we discuss below.

So often when we revisit the remastered pressings we used to like on Heavy Vinyl we come away dumbfounded — what on earth were we thinking? These are not the droids sounds we are looking for. Perhaps our minds were clouded at the time.
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Schumann & Grieg / Piano Concertos / Lupu / Previn / LSO – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

This is an EXCELLENT SOUNDING London pressing of the famous TAS list LP. I’ve never heard a quieter copy. Usually these are noisy as hell and this one plays dead quiet most of the time, and Mint Minus the rest.

HP was right: the Grieg here has the best sound. The piano is amazingly well recorded; the sound is rich and powerful. The orchestra sound better on the Grieg as well; it’s slightly more compressed and leaner on the Schumann side.  

Grieg / Peer Gynt Suite / Barbirolli (SR 90164) – Reviewed in 2010

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

This is an original Mercury LP with an AMAZING sound and EXTREMELY quiet vinyl! This has got that Mercury LIFE to it! The sound may be slightly on the dry side, but all the instruments have wonderful texture and tonality.

And of course, this is music that belongs in any collection. It’s some of the greatest and most accessible classic music ever written.  (more…)

Grieg / Peer Gynt Suites / Fiedler (LSC 2125) – Reviewed in 2008

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

More Peer Gynt Suites / Fiedler

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

Red Seal pressing with EXCELLENT SOUND!

Fiedler is wonderful here, which is to be expected. What’s unusual about this Red Seal is how good the sound is. It’s extremely transparent and tonally correct. It sounds to me like a flat transfer. Some tubey colorations would be nice, especially in the louder passages. The sound also lacks a bit of weight in the bottom end. But these faults are mostly made up for by the tremendous clarity and freedom from distortion that this pressing has. I doubt if the Shaded Dog has those qualities.

Grieg / Music From Peer Gynt / Fiedler – A Cisco Disaster

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

Music From Peer Gynt / Fiedler

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex

Pretty bad, on a par with the shrill crap Classic Records has been dishing out for years, but in the opposite tonal direction: dull and deadsville. (more…)