_Composers – Strauss, Johann

Strauss / Waltzes / Reiner

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Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Disc LPs, but it’s the rare copy that deserves such an exclusive ranking. This copy delivers the sonic goods on side one with Super Hot Stamper sound.

Side two is not quite up to the standards set by side one. It’s darker, not as open and lacks some of the richness of the first side. That said, it’s still better than the average copy we’ve played and worlds better than any reissue.

Both sides have some deep powerful bass and are fairly dynamic.

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Rachmaninoff and Liszt / Favorite Classics for Piano / Pennario on Capitol

More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1880)

More Classical ‘Sleeper” Records We’ve Discovered

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White Hot Stamper sound on side two of this solo piano recording. It’s big, rich and above all REAL sounding, with natural studio space. The legendary soloist Leonard Pennario is presented here at the height of his powers. Superb choice of material, from Clair De Lune to Liebestraum to the Hungarian Rhapsody No . 2.

On the rare Stereo pressing of course — we want to hear all that studio space reproduced, just as your two ears would have heard it (more or less).

Side One

Graded Super Hot for the huge, solid-sounding piano, played with such verve and skill. The musical power on this side is stupendous. 

Side Two

Even better! No smear, with incredible clarity, and no sacrifice in weight or richness. (more…)

Various Strauss Family Members / Tales of Old Vienna / Boskovsky – Super Hot Stamper

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

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This BETTER than Super Hot Side one has shockingly good sound, some of the best we have ever heard for lovely marches, polkas and waltzes such as these (the Radetsky March being the most famous).

The hall is HUGE, the strings so rich, with the kind of wall to wall sound that makes the stereo and speakers utterly disappear. The sound of this London Whiteback pressing is just right for this music — so natural and real. Boskovsky of course was a master of these forms and displays consummate skill with each of the famous works here, bringing them to life as only he and the Vienna Phil. can.

If only side two were as good! But of course, when one side is killer, the chances that the second side will be as good or better are well below average.

Side One

A++ to A+++, nearly White Hot.

Slight smear and slight edge keep this side from three pluses, but it’s close!

Side Two

Listen for the uncannily realistic whistle at the start of the first piece — it’s DEMO DISC material.

A+ to A++, a step down to be sure but still big and rich, just the way we like our Londons.

Strauss et al. / Vienna Holiday / Knappertsbusch

More Johann Strauss

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This is a super rare and quiet early UK Decca LP (SXL 2016) with two very good sounding sides! Side one is spacious and transparent but could use a bit more extension on the top and bottom, rating an A+. Side two is similar sounding, but has some added fullness that nets it an A+ to A++ grade. Both sides play about Mint Minus with no inner groove distortion and only very light surface noise.

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Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records – RCA Released This Living Stereo with Reiner in 1958

More Johann Strauss

Some audiophiles buy albums based on their labels. For example, this Shaded Dog pressing from the Golden Age of RCA Living Stereo might appeal to a certain kind of audiophile who treasures LSC’s on the original label.

More than that, he might limit himself to 1S Indianapolis pressings. Hooray! What could be better?

However, many records from this era simply do not sound good, and this is one of them. We have never heard a good sounding copy of LSC 2112, and we’ve played plenty of them over the decades we’ve been in the business of selling Golden Age Classical records.

A copy came in just last week and I figured it was time to give it a spin and see if there was any reason to change my opinion. Hey, maybe this one had Hot Stampers! Can’t say it wouldn’t be possible. Unlikely, yes, impossible, no.

So here’s what I heard: A wide stage. A bit dry.

But then the trouble started: Shrill strings?! That’s all she wrote. A Johann Strauss record with shrill strings is a non-starter. (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…)

Overtures and Dances / Reiner

More Johann Strauss

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This RCA Pink Label TAS List LP plays Mint Minus. Side one of this record sounds AMAZING, especially the Dvorak piece.

Here are the comments for the copy we recently sold on the site:

Superb string tone. This is one record that deserves to be on the tas list, and you have to give harry credit for going against the audiophile tide and recognizing a cheap, thin pink vic! Side one sounds incredible. I never recall hearing sound like this on this victrola! It’s demonstration quality sound!

Classic Records remastered this record not long ago and ruined it. This is what it’s supposed to sound like. (more…)

Strauss / Carnival in Vienna / Ormandy – Reviewed in 2011

More Johann Strauss

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Side two of this two-eye Columbia pressing has EXCELLENT sound, rating a sonic grade of A+ to A++. With a grade such as that it ranks somewhere in the Top Five Per Cent of Columbia pressings I would guess, only because so many Columbias are just plain awful. Is even one out of ten passable? I doubt it. But this one is! It’s quite good in fact, with an extended top end and lovely texture to the strings. (more…)

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Dorati – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the Music of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)

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This lovely Mercury Golden Import LP not only has Super Hot Stamper sound on side one, which is where Gaite Parisienne can be found, but it also 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.

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 audiophiles must wait for reissues (either by Mercury or in this case by Philips once they had bought Mercury) to show us how good the sound of a particular recording might actually be. (Of course what you really need is the right copy to know ultimately how good the recording can be, and to find it you might have to clean and play ten LPs, or more. That’s where we come in.) (more…)