_Composers – Mozart

Mozart / Quintet / Piano + Winds & Trio – A Great VTA Test Disc

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

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Mozart

This is a handy record for VTA adjustment

Listen for fullness and solidity, especially in the piano, although a rich, full sounding clarinet is a joy here as well. 

Some of the copies we played in our shootout lacked the weight and solidity to balance out the qualities of transparency and clarity.

The resulting sound is less natural, with the kind of forced detail that CDs do so well, and live music never does. There is a balance to be found.

The right VTA will be critical in this regard. When you have all the space; the clearest, most extended harmonics; AND good weight and richness in the lower registers of the piano, you are where you need to be (keeping in mind that it can always get better if you have the patience and drive to tweak further).  (more…)

Mozart – Clarinet and Horn Concertos / Maag

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

More music conducted by Peter Maag

  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful classical release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big, clear, present and transparent, with a HUGE bottom end, you better believe that this is some Demo Disc sound
  • Both sides are open, high-rez, and spacious, with depth like you will not believe and some of the least shrill string reproduction we have ever heard for this music (which is the main problem we ran into on the album)
  • These wonderful concertos — some of the greatest ever composed — should be part of any serious Classical Collection.
  • Others that belong in that category can be found here.
  • Kenneth Wilkinson was probably the engineer for these sessions in glorious Kingsway Hall. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.

(more…)

Mozart / String Quartets – VTA and Balance

What to Listen for ask? Dryness.

Some of the copies lacked the richness to balance out the clarity and became dry sounding. There is a balance to be found. The right VTA will be critical in this regard. When you have all the space; the clearest, most extended harmonics; AND good weight and richness in the lower registers of the cello, you are where you need to be (keeping in mind that it can always get better if you have the patience and motivation to tweak further).

On the other side of that coin is smear, usually from too much tubey richness. Again, finding the balance is key.

Here are some other records that are good for testing string tone and texture.


OUR HOT STAMPER COMMENTARY FROM 2013

Easily one of the finest string quartet recordings we have ever had the pleasure to play, this Philips pressing earned strong grades on both sides for its lovely recreation of space, Tubey Magical richness, and rosiny string textures.  

It sounds very much like live music, or at least what you imagine this music would sound like live. Of course, live classical music is shocking in its clarity and freedom from artificiality, and no recording I have ever heard duplicates that sound with perfect fidelity, but when the pressing is as clear and transparent and natural as this one, your ability to suspend disbelief seems to require no effort at all.

Close your eyes and your brain, search as it may, can find nothing in the recording to interfere with the appreciation of even the most subtle nuances of the score. This is the mark of a very fine record indeed.

You may notice that we do very few chamber music records on the site. Thousands of these works have been recorded, and to be honest a large portion of them actually have quite decent sound. Obviously a handful of instruments is much more easily captured on tape than the fifty or more pieces in a modern large orchestra.

But when we hear one with this kind of transparency and fidelity, we make every effort to track down more copies, working through them to discover the truly Hot Stamper pressings lurking within their identical looking covers.

This copy had the sound we were looking for. Those of you with exceptionally clean, clear systems, capable of reproducing both the clarity and the Tubey Magic captured on the tape, are in for a real treat.

(more…)

Mozart / Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the ’90s)

Hot Stamper Classical and Orchestral Imports on Decca & London

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Mozart (1756-1791)

We were impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing of this album when it came out back in 1994. We wrote at the time:

Probably the best sound and performance of the Eine Kleine available — highly recommended!  

We haven’t played a copy in years, 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.

Our Hot Stamper Classical Pressings will be dramatically more transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings tend to fall short in in our experience.


FURTHER READING

Advice – What to Listen For on Classical Records (more…)

Mozart / Symphony No. 35 – A Cisco Recommended LP, or Is It?

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

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Mozart

Sonic Grade: B? C?

I wrote this review in 2001, practically the stone age in my world, and would now disagree with a great deal of what I said about the sound of the record. The music and performances are fine, but the sound has all the hallmarks of bad cutting equipment and dead-as-a-doornail RTI vinyl.

This is the review I wrote in 2001:

Hearing this performance from Thomas Nee and his orchestra is like hearing the work for the first time. It may be difficult to reproduce the magic in these grooves but wonderfully rewarding when you do. You won’t be bored! The sound is intimate and immediate; this is the record for those of you who appreciate more of a front row center seat. Count me in; that’s where I like to sit myself.  

I worked hard on my system for about 4 hours one night, using nothing but this record as my test, because of its wealth of subtle ambience cues, excellent string tone, and massed string dynamics. There is a lot to listen for, and a lot to get right, for this album to sound right.

The performance of the Mozart’s 35th Symphony is definitive. Without a doubt this is the best Mozart record currently available, one that belongs in any serious record collection. I give it a top recommendation for its sublime musical qualities that set it apart from other current releases. In short, a Must Own! 

Twenty years and a great deal of Audio Progress later I have changed my tune. Now I would say:

Cisco’s titles had to fight their way through Kevin Gray’s opaque, airless, low-resolution cutting system, a subject we discussed on the blog in some depth here.

An excerpt:

As is the case with practically every record pressed on Heavy Vinyl over the last twenty years, there is a suffocating loss of ambience throughout, a pronounced sterility to the sound. Modern remastered records just do not BREATHE like the real thing.

Good EQ or Bad EQ, they all suffer to one degree or another from a bad case of audio enervation.

Where is the life of the music?

You can try turning up the volume on these remastered LPs all you want; they simply refuse to come to life.

A textbook case of Live and Learn.


Cisco Music had this to day about their record:

One of Mozart’s most popular symphonies is given a visceral and driving performance. Instead of slowing down the tempo in service to lyricism, conductor Thomas Nee chose to adhere to Mozart’s written instructions: ‘The first movement must be played with fire; the last, as fast as possible.’ Even if you own several recordings of this bright and joyous work, you’ve never heard it played like this, and certainly never with this kind of audiophile sound! 

This is exactly the “kind of audiophile sound” I fell for 20 years ago, long before I had a clue just how good a great orchestral recording could sound.

Like most of the folks who pursue records in search of higher quality sound, I sure thought I did, which is why it’s easy for me to write about it. I’ve been there.

(more…)

Falla / Ritual Fire Dance – Entremont

More Columbia Classical Recordings

More Classical “Sleeper” Recordings We’ve Discovered with Demo Disc Sound

  • Philippe Entremont’s delightful 1967 release returns with superb sound on both sides
  • It’s solid and weighty like no other, with less smear, situated in the biggest space, with the most energetic performances
  • These sides are big, full-bodied, clean and clear, with a wonderfully present piano and plenty of 3-D space around it
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – here’s all the proof anyone with two working ears and top quality audiophile equipment needs to make the case
  • Dynamic, huge, lively, transparent and natural – with a record this good, your ability to suspend disbelief requires practically no effort at all

(more…)

Mozart / Haydn – Symphony No. 35 / Symphony No. 104 / Krips

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

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • With two outstanding Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard these symphonic masterpieces sound as good as they do here
  • It’s also reasonably quiet at Mint Minus Minus considering that RDG vinyl is often a problem -It’s one of the main things that keeps some pressings from sounding their best, obviously not a problem here
  • This Readers Digest pressing of Krips’s superb 1964 recording for Decca has glorious sound for any LP produced by this notoriously difficult label (difficult for audiophiles, everybody else loved the fact that a whole set of amazing sounding records was less than twenty bucks!)
  • The texture and harmonic overtones of the strings are superb – as we listened we became completely immersed in the music on the record, transfixed by the remarkable virtuosity Josef Krips and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra brought to these difficult and demanding works nearly 60 years ago

This vintage 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 performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

(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…)

Couperin / Mozart / Corelli / Britten – Music For Strings / Janigro

More of the music of François Couperin (1668-1733)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings in Living Stereo

  • This original Shaded Dog pressing boasts INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that most of our classical records, even the mintiest ones, cannot match
  • 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
  • The rich, textured sheen of the strings that Living Stereo made possible in the ’50s and early ’60s is clearly evident throughout these pieces, something that the Heavy Vinyl crowd will never experience, because that sound simply does not exist on modern records
  • Marks in the vinyl are the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you

(more…)

Organ Music From Westminster

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

More Classical Recordings

  • This very rare Ark LP features excellent Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Features a selection of classical masterpieces from some of the world’s greatest composers, beautifully performed by famed organist Edward Berryman, S.M.D.
  • This title was always a hit at Fulton Audio demonstrations, as it contains a true 16 cycle note, which most stereos cannot reproduce
  • If you can reproduce it, and you can hear it, so much the better

This is a Very Rare Ark LP. The piece by Mozart on side one has a 16 cycle note. Since it has virtually no overtones, the note is more often than not completely undetectable; few stereos in my experience have ever been able to reproduce it. If you have a full-range system, this record will allow you to hear deep bass you may have never heard before.

Let me warn you that these records require extremely transparent, full-bandwidth, neutral stereo systems to sound their best. Most records are “goosed up” in various ways to play on any stereo, regardless of quality. These Fulton records have the opposite of that sound.

From my admittedly prejudiced point of view, tubes are an absolute must for the magic of these live recordings to come through. (Or so I thought in 2006. Now, not so much.)

If your system leans more toward the budget side, these Ark records will leave you wondering what in the world that Tom Port character was talking about.

And of course organ records require good deep bass, the hardest part of the frequency range to reproduce in the typical living room. With this organ record at least you’ll know what the goal should be.

(more…)