_Composers – Strauss

Overtures and Dances / Reiner

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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 / Ein Heldenleben / Reiner on Victrola – Reviewed Way Back When

More of the music of Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)

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This Plum Label original Victrola pressing has EXCELLENT SOUND on side one, earning a grade of A++. It’s quite a step up from the other copies we played. As you may know, this is one of the earliest RCA stereo recordings, dating from 1954 and the same sessions as the famous Reiner recording LSC 1806. This two microphone, two-channel recording, however, was never released in stereo on vinyl until the Victrola era ten years later.  

The sound on side one is very transparent, with nice texture to the strings and brass. It’s not nearly as dark as the average copy.

Side two suffers from some of that dark quality and rated an A Plus grade. It has more of a distant quality.

One further note: we used to like the RCA Half-Speed pressing of the work, but playing it recently made me realize just how dark, smeary and thick it is. Don’t know what I ever saw in it to tell you the truth.

Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto No. 1 / Janis / Reiner – 1957 Living Stereo

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  • This wonderful Romantic era piano concerto makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides of this vintage Victrola pressing are big, full-bodied, clean and clear, with a wonderfully preset piano and three-dimensional space around the musicians
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – here’s all the proof anyone with two working ears and top quality audiophile equipment needs to make the case
  • I used to think that the Classic was better than the Victrola, but that was a long time ago, and I hear a lot of midrange magic on this LP that I don’t think you can find on practically any modern remaster, by Classic Records or anyone else
  • The Classic will be quieter though – we had a devil of a time finding Vics pressings with audiophile quality vinyl

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Strauss – Also Sprach Zarathustra / Reiner

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  • This wonderful classical release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • The vibrant colors of the orchestra are captured brilliantly in All Tube Analog by the RCA engineers, creating an immersive and engrossing listening experience for the work that is simply without equal in our experience
  • There is plenty on offer for the discriminating audiophile, with the spaciousness, clarity, tonality and freedom from artificiality that are hallmarks of the best Living Stereo recordings
  • “Reiner’s close familiarity with the score and personal relationship with Strauss himself add extra weight to the authority and importance of his interpretation of Also sprach Zarathustra.

(more…)

Strauss / Carnival in Vienna / Ormandy – Reviewed in 2011

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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…)

Debussy / La Mer / Reiner – Reviewed in 2005

The Music of Claude Debussy Available Now

Album Reviews of the music of Claude Debussy

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1S RCA Shaded Dog. This is an exceptionally good sounding copy, full of that RCA Living Stereo magic. Excellent performance from Reiner as well. On a work like La Mer the timbre of the instruments is critical to the enjoyment of the piece, as they often play solo and in small groupings. This record captures those qualities perfectly.

This record also includes Strauss’ Don Juan, which never sounds good on this title and is best left unplayed. 

Everything But the Beer / Fiedler Conducts a Boston Pops Concert – Reviewed in 2012

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

This VERY RARE 2 LP Shaded Dog pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound. Much of what’s good about Golden Age recordings is heard here, with side one for example having the sound of a HUGE hall and that Three-Dimensional quality that the best vintage recordings are able to convey so well.

We constantly knock Heavy Vinyl here at Better Records for the simple reason that we play vintage recordings such as this by the score every month and can hear what they do so well. Unfortunately the huge hall and the 3-D soundstaging they effortlessly reproduce cannot be found on any Heavy Vinyl pressing we know of.

Such qualities allow this record to sound — in some ways, to be sure not all — like live music. Heavy Vinyl just plain doesn’t. (more…)

Rachmaninoff & Liszt / Favorite Classics for Piano / Pennario – Reviewed in 2014

More of Franz Liszt’s music

Favorite Classics for Piano / Pennario

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

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). (more…)

Strauss – Also Sprach Zarathustra – MoFi Debunked

More Strauss

Also Sprach Zarathustra

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked. 

Can you believe this bright and phony sounding piece of junk was once on the TAS Super Disc List? Sad, isn’t it? At least Harry had the good sense to delete it way back in the ’80s, along with all the rest of the awful MoFi’s that were on it at the time.  

Hey, I sure liked a lot of my MoFi’s in the ’80s too. Thank god I didn’t have my own Super Disc list at the time. It would be every bit as embarrassing as Harry’s list is these days, of that you can be sure.

Deodato – Prelude

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  • This killer pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The brass and percussion are amazing on 2001 (and every other track) – thanks RVG
  • We had no idea there was space this huge in the recording until we heard the best copies
  • “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001),” won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance

Both sides are surprisingly sweet and Tubey Magical, nice qualities for a CTI record to have since so many of them are aggressive and edgy to the point of distraction.

Listen to the trumpet on the second track on side one — it’s so immediate, it’s practically JUMPING out of the soundfield, just bursting with energy. Rudy can really pull off these big productions on occasion, and this session was clearly one of them. If you have the kind of stereo that’s right for this music (the bigger the better) you could easily find yourself using this record as a demonstration disc. It’s very unlikely your audiophile friends have ever heard anything like it. (more…)