_Composers – Mozart

Mozart / Symphonies No. 40 & 41 / Giulini – Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the ’90s)

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Sonic Grade: B?

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca. They released this title on Heavy Vinyl in 1998; it was one of the few Speakers Corner classical recordings we used to carry and recommend.  It of course has the usual shortcomings.

Below are some thoughts from a recent classical listing that we hope will shed some light on our longstanding aversion to the sound of modern remasterings. The Heavy Vinyl Scorecard in our Commentary sections has a great deal more on the subject as well.


This original pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even 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 a real concert hall, this is the record for you. It’s what Golden Age Recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but new records do not, ever.

Transparency

What is lost in these newly remastered recordings? Lots of things, but the most obvious and bothersome is TRANSPARENCY.

Modern records are just so damn opaque. We can’t stand that sound. It drives us crazy. Important musical information — the kind we hear on even second-rate regular pressings — is simply nowhere to be found. That audiophiles as a group — including those that pass themselves off as champions of analog in the audio press — do not notice these failings does not speak well for either their equipment or their critical listening skills.

It is our contention that no one alive today is capable of making records that sound as good as the vintage ones we sell.

Once you hear this Hot Stamper pressing, those 180 gram records you own may never sound right to you again. They sure don’t sound right to us, but we are in the enviable position of being able to play the best properly-cleaned older pressings (reissues included) side by side with the newer ones. This allows the faults of the current reissues to become much more recognizable, to the point of actually being quite obvious. When you can hear the different pressings that way, head to head, there really is no comparison. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Mozart / Piano Concertos / Geza Anda

Mozart / Piano Concerto No. 17 & No. 21 / Anda

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,     

The Mozart is wonderful. It blows away my first pressing, flat edge hard board copy that I had heretofore revered. Love it. A brilliant recording.

Phil

Glad to hear it! We sold our original close to ten years ago so it’s good to know this pressing can beat it. Those originals are hard to find; haven’t seen a clean copy since.

TP

Mozart/ Symphony 32 & 38/ Maag

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An exceptionally QUIET copy for an early Blueback pressing. The sound is old-fashioned Decca, which seems to suit this music quite well. The hall is reverberant, as it would have been in Mozart’s day, and the perspective is mid-hall. The string tone is excellent. Some of the louder passages might be a bit strained, but overall the sound is correct for this music. 

Maag and the LSO are of course Mozart experts and the performances here do not disappoint. A rare title and a lovely one.

Golden Age Recordings of Mozart – These Are Some that Didn’t Make the Grade

 

 

These are just some of the recordings we’ve auditioned recently 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 in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.  

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

Haydn / Toy Symphony – Marriner on a Japanese Soundphile Pressing

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DEMO QUALITY SOUND! This is the best sounding Toy symphony you will ever hear!

I discovered how good this Japanese EMI Soundphile Series recording is almost 20 years ago. In that time I can say that I think I may have run across at most two other copies. This is a tough one to find!

But it’s worth the effort, because all the little toys that play along with the music just JUMP out of the speakers. The recording is so transparent and the toys are so well miked it’s like hearing this work for the first time, or live.

This album can easily become a favorite Demo Disc — it has that kind of “you-are-there” sound. This recording was made at Abbey Road in 1976 under the direction of the two Christophers. Perhaps that accounts for the quality of the recording. The Eine Kleine on side two is also very nice, although I wouldn’t say it’s world class the way The Toy Symphony is.

Mozart / Piano Concerto No. 27 / Backhaus / Bohm

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Lovely music. Superb sound, one of the rarest of the London records. I haven’t seen one of these in close to twenty years. 

Performed with The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Karl Bohm, this record also features the Piano Sonata in A-major.

Mozart / String Quartets / Quartetto Italiano

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  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two, this Philips pressing will be very hard to beat – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • One of the finest string quartet recordings we have ever had the pleasure to play – lovely recreation of space, Tubey Magical richness, and rosiny string textures
  • Clear and transparent and natural – your ability to suspend disbelief requires practically no effort at all
  • “The playing of the Quartetto Italiano has a freshness, range and subtlety that vividly realizes the music in all its variety, while technical problems seem to have been solved so that the music making can be both spontaneous-sounding and thoughtful throughout.”

(more…)

Organ Music From Westminster

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This is a Very Rare Fulton LP. The piece by Mozart on side one has a true 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 are the opposite. 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 Fulton 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.

Mozart / Eine Kleine Nachtmusik / Munchinger

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  • Exceptional Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this vintage London Blueback
  • Clarity, space and transparency that lets you really hear into the music on this copy
  • Karl Munchinger is of course an expert on Mozart and here he does not disappoint – it’s a top performance with sound to match
  • You will have a very hard time finding a better Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on record, sonically or musically

This vintage London pressing had some of the best sound we heard in our shootout. It’s guaranteed to beat the pants off of the Speakers Corner pressing of the Decca that came out in 1994. (more…)

Mozart’s Wonderful Clarinet Concerto on Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: B?

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca reissue.

Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90 when this record came out, but here it is anyway. 

One of the best of the Deccas. I raved about this one years ago when it came out. If I had to pick a record to demonstrate how wonderful Decca recordings are, musically and sonically, this would be an easy choice. (more…)