Folks, we have some good news for those of you who have been waiting for one of the best sounding, most beautifully performed Four Seasons ever recorded. THIS IS IT! White Hot on both sides, I can’t say the sound is better than the White Hot Shaded Dog pressing we heard in our recent shootout. It’s certainly different, and one could easily make the case for either. Of course one’s taste enters into the calculation, so choosing a clear winner is simply not possible with markedly superior pressings such as these.
Let’s just say that this small ensemble recording is as close to perfect as any we have ever heard. The harpsichord is especially good on the Vanguard recording, better than the RCA I would venture. Its placement in the soundfield is subtly natural, precisely the way one would expect to hear it in performance.
All four movements are performed with great spirit, and other than a sour note right at the start — listen for it! — the playing is of the highest quality. I prefer the performance — slightly — to the famous RCA.
It should be noted that this is only the second time we have heard a good pressing of this Vanguard title. Normally the vinyl is abysmal — not just noisy, but grainy and lacking in top end. (You can listen for the sound of the vinyl itself on the lead-in grooves before the music starts.) This pressing is an absolute FLUKE. It gets all the sound of the tape onto the vinyl in a way that we have never heard before and would not have thought possible. But, as we never tire of saying, hearing is believing!(more…)
This AMAZINGLY QUIET RCA Shaded Dog has SUPERB SOUND. It’s also without a doubt one of the finest small string ensemble recordings on this site. Which is only fitting for the most famous string music ever recorded.
For those with better tube gear, the string tone on this record is sublime, with that rosin-on-the-bow quality that tubes seem to bring out in a way virtually nothing else can, at least in my experience.
The spaciousness and three-dimensionality of the recording here is also exceptional. Through the efforts and skill of the RCA engineers, that striking openness in the recording is somehow combined with an immediacy in the sound of the lead string players, no mean feat. One rarely hears both, except of course in live performance.
There may be other performances of merit, but I know of no recording of this music with better sound. Truly a DEMO DISC.(more…)
This is a minty EMI British Pressing from 1981 featuring Paul Tortelier on the cello. The sound is very good in the EMI tradition, but even better, the music is WONDERFUL. These Vivaldi concertos are lovely. I was unfamiliar with them, so discovering this music today was a joy.
This wonderful classical guitar recording makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple plus (A+++) sound or close to it – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
The sound here is glorious, brimming with the wonderful qualities that make listening to classical music in analog so involving
The orchestra sounds rich and sweet, yet the guitar is clear, present and appropriately placed relative to the surrounding ensemble
As is to be expected from the Decca engineers in 1959, the sound is so relaxed and correct that you immediately find yourself simply enjoying the performances of these two well-known pieces, which is entirely the point, although we sometimes forget the purpose of all our audiophile rigmarole
This rare and mostly quiet Shaded Dog pressing has SUPERB sound on side one, earning a sonic grade of A++. To our surprise side two was even better; we called it A++ to A+++. It was surely one of the best sounding records we played in our classical shootouts that day. This is Golden Age Living Stereo sound at its Tubey Magical best.
A++, with tonality that is Right On The Money (ROTM). Huge stage as well, deep and wide. Not as transparent as some of the other Golden Age pressings we played that day, we call this one Super Hot.
A++ to A+++, and here the music seems to be better as well as the sound, which is more open and even sweeter and smoother (in a good way).(more…)
Wonderful sound from 1960. The cello has a much more natural size relative to the orchestra, which in the true Living Stereo tradition sounds every bit as good.
This copy has an outstanding side one, but side two, a later stamper, is not as good as the best.
I would rank this record right up there with the best of the Starker recordings on Mercury. Musically I prefer this album to any of those. Side one, the Concerto for Cello in B-flat, is especially enjoyable from start to finish. If I had to pick one cello concerto record to listen to, it would probably be this one.
This Columbia Six-Eye original pressing (MS 6204) has an especially lovely side one. The extended tape hiss is a dead giveaway that this copy has the high frequencies that are going to let the violin harmonics come through beautifully, and they do!
Once we had our VTA adjusted precisely for this pressing, the texture on the strings came through gloriously. Of course getting the VTA right resulted in more transparency and ambience as well, with huge amounts of space around the players. The result: a Super Hot Side One, no doubt about it!(more…)
This Columbia 360 label pressing (MS 6204) has an especially lovely side two. The extended tape hiss is a dead giveaway that this copy has the high frequencies that are going to let the violin harmonics come through beautifully, and they do! The sound is mid-hall on both sides, but side two is richer than side one, less edgy and more relaxed, which is all to the good.
Both sides feature virtuoso playing, with plenty of rosiny texture to the violins. The vinyl is also very quiet, mostly mint minus.(more…)
After a three year wait, Tubey Magical Living Stereo sound for The Four Seasons is back at Better Records
Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish, this copy had the vintage analog sound we were looking for
The best copies are simply bigger, richer and more open, with a more extended, sweeter high end
If you drool over the Tubey Magical sound that RCA and others achieved in 1960, this is the copy for you
This KILLER RCA Shaded Dog has the kind of clarity, harmonic texture and freedom from smear that few Golden Age recordings can claim. Through the effort and skill of the RCA engineers, that striking openness in the recording is combined with an immediacy in the sound of the lead string players, no mean feat. One rarely hears both, except of course in live performance.(more…)