This lovely Mercury boasts one of the greatest performances of the piece ever recorded.
Dorati is surely The Man when it comes to energy, drive and dynamic excitement with this venerable warhorse. He and his Minneapolis Symphony play the hell out of this boisterous music, and luckily for us audiophiles, the Mercury engineers give us Demonstration Quality Sound to go with it.
But not on the original pressing.
The original Mercury release of this record (90016) is a shrill piece of trash, as is the Mercury Wing pressing. So many of the early Mercurys were poorly mastered it seems.
We used to really like the Golden Import reissue, but that was years ago. Not sure how we would feel about it now.
Many original Mercury records simply do not sound good, and this is one of them. We have never heard a good sounding copy of SR90016, and we’ve played plenty of them over the more than three decades we’ve been in the business of selling Golden Age Classical records.
Some of the early Mercs seem better suited to the Old School Audio Systems of the ’60s and ’70s than the modern systems of today. Some of these records used to sound good on those older systems, and I should know. I had an Old School stereo and some of the records I used to think sounded good back in the day don’t sound too good to me anymore. For a more complete list of those records, click here.
Aren’t the Original Pressings the Best?
No. The idea that the original is the best sounding version of any album is a myth, and an easily debunked one.
To make the case, here is just a small sampling of records with the potential to sound better on specific reissue pressings when compared head to head against the best originals. We also have some amazing sounding reissues available should you wish to purchase pressings that beat the originals — any originals — and we back up that claim with a money back guarantee.
How Did We Figure All of This Out?
There are more than 2000 Hot Stamper reviews on this blog. Do you know how we learned so much about so many records?
Simple. We ran thousands and thousands of record experiments under carefully controlled conditions, and we continue to run scores of them week in and week out to this very day.
If you want to learn about records, we recommend you do the same. You won’t be able to do more than one or two a week, but one or two a week is better than none, which is how many the average audiophile seems to want to do, based on my reading of the sites that they hang out on.
When it comes to finding the best sounding records ever made, our advice is simple. Play them the right way and pay attention to what they are trying to teach you. You will learn more with this approach than with any other.
Have You Noticed…
If you’re a fan of Mercury Living Presence records — and what right-thinking audiophile wouldn’t be? — have you noticed that many of them, this one for example, don’t sound very good?
If you’re an audiophile with good equipment, you should have.
But did you? Or did you buy into the hype surrounding these rare pressings and just ignore the problems with the sound?
There is plenty of hype surrounding the hundreds of Heavy Vinyl pressings currently in print. I read a lot about how wonderful their sound is, but when I actually play them, I rarely find them to be any better than mediocre, and most of them are downright awful.
It seems as if the audiophile public has bought completely into the hype for these modern Heavy Vinyl pressings. Audiophiles have too often made the mistake of approaching these records without the slightest trace of skepticism. How could so many be fooled so badly? Surely some of these people have good enough equipment to allow them to hear how bad these records sound.
I would say Mercury’s track record during the ’50s and ’60s is a pretty good one, offering (potentially) excellent sound for roughly one out of every three titles or so.
But that means that odds are there would be a lot of dogs in their catalog. This is definitely one of them.
To see the 50+ Living Presence classical titles we’ve reviewed to date, click here.