_Composers – Wagner

Beethoven / Symphony No. 4 / Siegfried Idyll / Monteux

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • This early Plum Label Victrola pressing of these lively and masterful performances earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that even our most well-cared-for vintage classical titles have trouble playing at
  • Tons of energy, loads of detail and texture, superb transparency and excellent clarity – all qualities the best vintage vinyl classical pressings have in abundance
  • A top performance of the 4th by Monteux and the LSO, with strings that are tonally correct, rich, and sweet
  • The horns on the Wagner piece are exceptionally well reproduced here as well – how could a Wagner record be any good without good horns?
  • There are about 100 orchestral recordings that offer the discriminating audiophile pressings with the Best Performances and Top Quality Sound. This record has earned a place on that list.

Both sides of this early Plum Label Victrola pressing are superb, with the kind of string tone only found on the best of the Living Stereo releases and other top quality Golden Age recordings.

Here is the kind of sound that Classic Records could not ignore, even though the original was only ever made available as part of RCA’s budget reissue series, Victrola.

Don’t let its budget status fool you — this pressing puts to shame most of what came out on the full price Living Stereo label. (And handily beats any Classic Records reissue ever made.)

And Monteux is once again superb.

We played a large group of Beethoven’s symphonies this week and this was clearly one of the best, if not THE best. Well recorded Beethoven is hard to come by. The box sets we played were mediocre at best, and that left us with only a handful of clean early pressings. These records just aren’t out there like they used to be.

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Wagner / Excerpts from Operas / Dorati

More of the Music of Richard Wagner (1813-1883)

More Orchestral Spectaculars

  • With two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard this underrated Wagner album sound remotely as good as it does here
  • Mercury is one of the few labels that can bring to life the power of the orchestra that Wagner’s music demands, and the engineers (Robert Eberenz, et al) do not disappoint
  • One of the better Watford Town Hall recordings (The Firebird would be another one), this album was recorded in 1959 and it fully captures the magic of the venue as only an All Tube Recording / Mastering Chain from that era can
  • I’ve known how good the right pressings of this album can sound for more than twenty years — it’s about time we did the shootout!
  • If you’re a fan of orchestral showpieces such as these, this Mercury recording from 1960 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1960 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Everything But the Beer / Fiedler Conducts a Boston Pops Concert

Living Stereo Titles Available Now

200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

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…)

Richard Wagner – The Sound of Stokowski and Wagner

More Richard Wagner

More Orchestral Spectaculars

  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two, our Shaded Dog pressing of this sought-after classic of the Living Stereo canon will be very hard to beat/li>
  • Lewis Layton engineered this blockbuster recording, and after hearing his brilliant work for The Pines of Rome with Reiner we can see why they gave him the job
  • The rich, textured sheen of the strings that Living Stereo made possible in the ’50s and early ’60s is clearly evident throughout these pieces, something that the Heavy Vinyl crowd will never experience, because that sound just does not exist on modern records
  • These shorter pieces are ideal for those who want to listen to Wagner’s music and don’t have the two hours one of his famous operas requires of the audience

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Wagner for Band / Fennell / Eastman Wind Ensemble

More of the music of Richard Wagner (1813-1883)

  • Wagner for Band finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • There is plenty on offer for the discriminating audiophile, with the spaciousness, clarity, tonality and freedom from artificiality that are hallmarks of the best Mercury recordings of Fennell leading the EWE
  • Far richer, smoother and livelier than every other pressing we played, with Tubey Magic and space we guarantee you have never heard on any Fennell record before
  • An incredibly rare TAS List recording, now replaced on the list by a Speakers Corner LP – from the looks of it, The Absolute Sound is going deaf in its old age

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London Records Takes You on A Journey Into [Potentially Very Good] Stereo Sound

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Recordings by Decca

[Written a very long time ago!]

INSANELY GOOD vintage Decca sound from 1958 — bigger, richer and more Tubey Magical than 9 out of 10 (or more!) records we’ve ever played from the pre-’60s early stereo Golden Age. How they got this one so right is beyond me.

We were sorely tempted to grade it White Hot, but chose instead to err on the side of modesty and call it A++ to A+++ or better (which is practically White Hot when you think about it).

Can it be that THIS was the first stereophonic sound music lovers of the world were exposed to on LP? (Stereo tapes may have existed in 1954, but they had to wait until 1958 to be transferred to vinyl.)

Could we possibly have fallen so far in only fifty years?

Judging by the quality of the sound on this copy — dramatically better than others we’ve played, and quieter too — the answer can only be a resounding yes. If you like your sound BIG and LUSH, this record is guaranteed to blow your mind.

Chabrier’s Espana with Argenta gets things off to an amazing start — when have you heard it sound better?!

Capriccio Espagnol (Rimsky-Korsakov), Mozart’s Concerto Piano Concerto No. 27 and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring are included here as well, all with audiophile sound to die for.

Both Sides are KILLER

A++ to A+++, big, spacious, Tubey Magically Rich, as well as tonally Right On The Money (ROTM), the sound here is Hard To Fault (HTF) — IF one is willing to accept the euphonic colorations of the equipment used at the time. We know the sound isn’t real — one would never hear it sound this way in the concert hall — but we love it anyway!

Heavy Vinyl

Rather surprisingly there is a Heavy Vinyl import reissue of this album available, at a cost of $50, not cheap by any means and undoubtedly a pale shadow of this London Blueback LP. There is simply no chance in the world that a recording of this fidelity could be mastered and pressed properly these days — we sure haven’t heard one, and we’ve played them by the hundreds. We implore anyone who made the mistake of buying such a modern record to pick this one up and hear what they couldn’t possibly know they were missing, but is nevertheless clearly audible on this very pressing for all to enjoy. (more…)

Wagner – Ansermet Conducts Wagner / Ansermet

More of the music of Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

  • Another stunning classical release makes its Hot Stamper debut, here with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Our first Hot Stamper for a recording of Wagner’s music – it took us a very long time to find a recording that had the audiophile goods that this one does
  • Clear and transparent, with huge hall space extending wall to wall and floor to ceiling, this is a sound that the Modern Reissue fails to reproduce utterly
  • If you don’t have an amazing sounding Wagner record — the low brass is to die for here — this record needs to find a home in your collection
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – if you need proof, here it is

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Liszt – Les Preludes / Wagner – Various Works / Mehta

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

More Recordings conducted by Zubin Mehta

This London UK pressing from 1967 has Hot Stamper sound on both sides. Some of what we’ve always liked about Decca/London from the period (mid- to late-’60s, in this case 1967) can be heard on this pressing: transparency; the texture on the strings; the natural timbre of the instruments.  

These London pressings are quite hard to find in our experience. The music is wonderful throughout, perhaps the reason that so few of these have found their way to the record bins here in L.A.  (more…)