_Composers – Schubert

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)

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. (more…)

Strauss et al. / Dances of Old Vienna / Boskovsky

More Johann Strauss

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Wow, what a find! This is a WONDERFUL sounding record with vintage Decca / London sound. Even as late as 1968 Decca was still able to produce recordings that are tonally correct from top to bottom and full of tubey magic. There is not a trace of hyped-up sound to be found on this record. It’s unbelievably spacious and three-dimensional, with depth to rival any recording you may own.

One reason the recording is as spacious as it is is that this is a fairly small ensemble, not a huge orchestra, playing in a lively hall, exactly the kind of hall in which this music was meant to be heard. The reason everything disc sounds right is that both the sound and the music are authentic to these works in practically every detail.

And the performances are vivid and lively as well, with Boskovsky himself playing the violin as well as directing the other players. It should be noted that the solo violin parts are especially lovely sounding. There is a transparency and ease to the sound that is not often heard in vintage recordings, and that, coupled with the tubey magic, richness and sweetness found throughout, make this a very special record indeed. (more…)

Schubert – The Trout Quintet / Curzon / Vienna Octet

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • The 1958 master tape has been transferred brilliantly using “modern” cutting equipment (from 1968, not the low-rez junk they’re forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound and surfaces that are hard to fault
  • The cello does not have that “fat” sound some audiophiles seem to like – Decca knew more about recording chamber music in 1958 than practically all the audiophile labels that would come along later, the ones that managed to make a mess of the very idea of audiophile quality sound (you know who I mean)

The piano and the strings have that Golden Age Tubey Magical sound we love. It’s been years since I’ve had the opportunity to play this record; most copies are just too beat up to bother with, so I was glad to find a number in minty condition.

Now what I hear in this recording is sound that is absolutely free from any top end boost, much the way live music is. There’s plenty of tape hiss and air; the highs aren’t rolled off, they’re just not boosted the way they normally are in a recording. (more…)

Schubert / Symphony No. 9 “The Great” / Krips / LSO

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  • With two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard this powerful orchestral masterpiece sound remotely as good as it does here
  • One of the truly great All Tube Wilkinson “Decca Tree” recordings in Kingsway Hall, captured faithfully in all its beauty on this very disc
  • The 1950s master tape has been transferred brilliantly using “modern” cutting equipment (from 1976, 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
  • Don’t expect to ever see an original on this site – the two we had were crude, flat, full of harmonic distortion, and with clearly restricted frequency extremes

Krips’ 1958 recording for Decca is here brought to life on a fairly quiet and certainly quite wonderful World of the Great Classics pressing from 1976. This copy was clearly the best we played, showing us a huge hall, with layered depth that was only hinted at on most pressings, regardless of age.

The strings are remarkably rich and sweet. This pressing is yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers of the day were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago. (more…)

Schubert / Symphony No. 9 “The Great” / Krips / LSO – The Early London Pressings Are Awful

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Sonic Grade: F

Presenting another member of our Hall of Shame.

What was most striking about this shootout was how poorly the original London Bluebacks fared when going head to head with the best vintage reissues. In fact, they were so obviously inferior I doubt we would have even needed another pressing to know that they could not possibly be considered Hot Stampers.

The two we had were crude, flat, full of harmonic distortion, and both had clearly restricted frequency extremes. I remember liking the Blueback pressings I played ten or twenty years ago.

Did I have better copies, or was my system not capable of showing me the shortcomings I so clearly heard this time around? Since this is a question that cannot be answered with any certainty, we’ll have to leave it there. (more…)

Schubert / Piano Sonata in B Flat Major / Anda – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This Super Hot Stamper original Large Tulips DG pressing (with stereo in red on the cover) 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 like you are sitting in a real concert hall, this is the record for you. It’s what Golden Age Classical Recordings are known for — THIS SOUND.  (more…)

Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon / Vienna Octet – Original Versus Reissue

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This unusual 2-pack combines two very different pressings from very different eras to create a complete performance of The “Trout” Quintet with SUPERB Super Hot Stamper (or better) on both sides. One pressing, the one shown, is from the early ’60s; the other is from 1982. How could an imported budget late reissue beat a superb Golden Age pressing on any side you ask? Well, the answer to that question is provided by the records we will send you. 

Side one of this London Whiteback pressing is dark and opaque, with a serious lack of both top end and clarity. Side two however is GORGEOUS: so big, rich, clear and lively, it earned a sonic grade of A++ to A+++! In our shootouts the person reviewing the records (in this case me) never knows which pressing is being critiqued. Imagine my surprise when the late London handily beat the early one.

Actually it’s easy to imagine my surprise, because there was simply no surprise to imagine. In our shootouts here at Better Records late pressings beat early pressings regularly. We let the records speak for themselves, and that’s what they told us, at least on side one of The “Trout”. The reason the late pressing even made it into our shootout was that in a preliminary round it showed us that it had very good sound on side one. Side two didn’t hold up, but any record with good sound on any side is going to go in the shootout, regardless of the “incorrectness” of its label or country of origin.

On the earlier pressing (CS 6090) the sound is rich and sweet; some might say it’s too rich, but for this music it works. The piano and the strings have that Golden Age Tubey Magical sound we love. It’s been years since I’ve had the opportunity to play this record; most copies are just too beat up to bother with, so I was glad to find this one in such minty condition. (more…)

Schubert / Symphony #9 (“The Great”) / Skrowaczewski

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

This Colorback Maroon Label RFR pressing (SR 90272) has wonderful orchestral sound, with both sides having Hot Stampers. Side two earned the full Two Pluses for its relatively rich strings, a quality one rarely hears on Mercury recordings from this era. The string texture is superb here, so critical to the enjoyment of a large scale romantic symphony such as this. 

  • A Superb Super Hot side two – rich strings on a Merc? Yes!
  • Nearly as good on side one – spacious and open, with a huge stage
  • Reasonably quiet vinyl for a vintage Mercury
  • One of the great symphonic works of the Romantic period

(more…)

Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon – Speakers Corner – Reviewed in the ’90s

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Sonic Grade: B?

We were impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing when it came out back in the day. We’ve come to learn that it is such an exceptional recording that even their second rate remastering of it was still capable of producing a very good sounding record.

One of the ways you can tell how great a recording this is is simply this: as soon as the needle hits the groove you are immediately involved in the music, listening to each of the lines created by the five preternaturally gifted players, all the while marveling at Schubert’s compositional skills.

That’s what a good record is supposed to do. That’s supposedly why we’ve dumped so much money into all this fancy equipment. Because if you have records like this, and the equipment (fancy or otherwise) to play them, you will find yourself being transported to the musical space of the performance in a way that other recordings (read: Heavy Vinyl) simply will not allow you to be. (more…)

Schubert / Octet / Vienna Octet – Reviewed in 2012

More Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Octet / Vienna Octet

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

Very good sound and very quiet vinyl on both sides of this London Whiteback LP! Side one is rich and sweet with nice space and soundstaging, but it could use more texture and top end. Side two fares a bit better in those areas. Both sides play mostly Mint Minus. There may be better sounding copies out there, but I doubt there are many quieter! (more…)