_Composers – Respighi

Respighi / Pines of Rome / Reiner – Reviewed Inaccurately in 2006

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Back in 2006 we liked Red Seal pressings of Living Stereo recordings a lot more than we do nowadays, so take this commentary with a huge grain of salt. Only the advent of top quality  cleaning equipment and our much improved playback quality made it possible for us to hear the earlier pressings in all their glory.

A lot of records that I used to like because they were cleaner and brighter — later Red Seal Living Stereos, some OJC jazz, some reissues of rock — sounded much better when my system was darker and less revealing. There are a lot of Live and Learn entries about these records, and this is one from 15 years ago that could (probably, the record is long gone and not around to be played) not be more wrong.

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Back to the Stone Age with The Pines of Rome on Mobile Fidelity

More Records Perfectly Suited for the Stone Age Stereos of the ’70s

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Respighi

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP reviewed and found wanting.

MoFi’s version of this recording (#507) is one of the worst sounding classical records they ever made, and that’s saying something, because most of their classical catalog is awful. Thin, bright, with sloppy bass and completely unnatural string tone — the MoFi makes the typical Classic Record sound good! And that’s REALLY saying something.

The UHQR is somewhat better, especially in the lower octaves, but it’s maybe a D+ or C-, not a Better Record by any means.

How dull and opaque does a stereo have to be to make this record listenable? The answer is VERY dull and VERY opaque. Stone Age Audio Systems are the only ones that can play junk like this and get away with it.            (more…)

Respighi / Pines of Rome with Maazel on DG – Not the Pressing You Want

Hot Stamper Classical and Orchestral Pressings Available Now

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Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records
Deutsche Grammophon Made This One

I’ve been playing a lot of different pressings of this music lately, trying to find the recordings that are most likely to win a shootout.

My notes for this one read: Very multi-miked. No depth, but the stage is wide. Not warm but dynamic.

There are a lot of DG recordings that have this kind of sound. We’ve played them by the score. Most went directly into the trade bin.

We simply do not sell classical records with this kind of second-rate sound regardless of the how good the performances may be.

Our job is to find you good sounding pressings. That’s the reason we carry no Heavy Vinyl of any kind, exactly one Half-Speed mastered title (John Klemmer’s Touch), rarely any Japanese pressings, and almost nothing made in the 21st century.

If these kinds of records sounded good — in other words, if they did well in shootouts — we would be happy to offer them to our customers. But they don’t.

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Respighi / The Birds on Golden Import Reissue

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ADDENDUM 2020

These days, most Golden Import reissues we play sound much too much like Philips pressings tend to sound: too smooth, smeary, compressed, recessed and veiled. 

Can’t say what this one sounds like, it sold many years ago, but I would not expect any Golden Import to sound good to me now. The famous Bolero on the TAS List had seemed to me to be a Harry Pearson mistake from the old days, a record he clearly liked at one time and simply not played later in life on better equipment.

Mostly what we were doing below was bashing the Just Plain Awful Speakers Corner Mercury series that everyone else seemed to like. What a disaster.

And where, may I ask, are those awful Mercury’s now?

On the trash heap of Heavy Vinyl Rip-offs from the past I hope. (I hope — audiophiles seem to like so many bad sounding records that it would not surprise me if there were still some die-hard fans of the series.)

How bad does a stereo have to be to keep you from hearing what is wrong with the sound of these badly remastered records? (more…)

Respighi / The Birds / Dorati – Reviewed in 2005

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This Maroon Label Mercury TAS List reissue with a black and white back cover has a decent sounding ”The Birds”, but an EXCEPTIONALLY nice ”Brazilian Impressions’.’ I don’t know when I’ve heard a better copy for that work.

It’s everything that a good Mercury should be: dynamic, open, immediate, exciting, and of course, with Dorati and the LSO, beautifully performed. The Golden Import on this title is excellent and I’m quite sure it’s better on side one. But the side two here gives you the REAL Mercury sound that Mercury fans love. I count myself among them. (more…)

Rossini-Respighi / La Boutique Fantasque – Reversed Polarity Copy

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This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

This is a WONDERFUL sounding, very quiet original Shaded Dog pressing of one of the rarest Living Stereo titles. Dropping the needle on side one was a shock — the sound was terrible: thin, shrill and practically unlistenable. Since I know this to be an exceptionally good sounding record, there was only one possibility: reverse absolute phase. Sure enough, the magic of Living Stereo reappeared. If you can’t reverse your polarity, this is not the record for you! 

Are they all that way? I have no way of knowing. I run across a clean quiet copy like this once every ten years or so. If any of you out there own this record and yours is not reversed phase let me know what your stamper numbers are, I’d be very interested.

This has always been a favorite title with audiophiles. It’s full of lovely orchestral colors, much like The Nutcracker. As usual, Fiedler and the Boston Pops are accorded superb sound.

Respighi / Pines Of Rome / Maazel – Passable on Speakers Corner

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Sonic Grade: C

We were only slightly impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing of this album, writing at the time:

The famous TAS List recording. Very good sound. You can do better but it’s not easy. This work is just too difficult to record.

All true.

Respighi / Pines & Fountains Of Rome / Ansermet

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EXCELLENT SOUND! Not a Demo Disc by any means, but a well-recorded, well-mastered Pines. The problem with Pines is normally too much close miking. This London places the orchestra in a more natural perspective, which I much prefer. This is also an exceptionally quiet copy. Side one is M-, but side two is about as quiet as an old London gets. Side two, the Pines, also has the best sound. 

Rossini-Respighi / La Boutique Fantasque / Solti – Reviewed in 2010

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

This London Mono Radio Promotion Copy is a stunner! DEMO QUALITY SOUND.

They even knew it back then — it was given the Hi-Fi Record Of The Month award! This orchestration and the sound of this music is ideal for audiophile listening.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice that closes out side two has slightly better sound by the way — it’s quite good.

Rossini-Respighi / La Boutique Fantasque / Fiedler – Reviewed in 2008

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DEMO QUALITY. It’s hard to find a better record with more Tubey Magical hear-all-the-way-to-the-back-of-the-hall sound than this, at least on side one.  

Fiedler has a way with the Ibert piece here like nobody’s business; the performance is definitive, although the sound is not as good as La Boutique Fantasque, which is nothing short of amazing. The Kay piece sounds excellent here and is beautifully performed. Fiedler is hard to beat on music like this.