_Composers – Britten

Couperin / Mozart / Corelli / Britten – Music For Strings / Janigro

More of the music of François Couperin (1668-1733)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings in Living Stereo

  • This original Shaded Dog pressing boasts INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that most of our classical records, even the mintiest ones, cannot match
  • The Tubey Magical richness is off the charts on this copy – if you want to know what kind of sound wins shootouts around these parts, this pressing will show you
  • 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 simply does not exist on modern records
  • Marks in the vinyl are the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you

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Britten / The Suites for Cello / Rostropovich – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

This solo Cello recording on London from 1970 has Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides, with a cello that might not be realistically portrayed, but is certainly portrayed POWERFULLY.

Honestly, we kid you not, the cello occupies all the space between the speakers, which, being about seven feet apart, makes for a cello that’s seven feet wide!

Now if you turn down the volume, you of course get a smaller cello, but the real fun of this recording is to hear the instrument in your room, front and center, with every nuance of its sound reproduced clearly. So we left the volume up.

The cello sound is full, rich and harmonically natural, with only the slightest trace of smear. In other words, it’s correct in every way but its size.

The longer and more intently one listens, the easier it becomes to accept the size of the cello as presented here. It stops being an issue. One finds oneself lost in the music, amazed at the preternatural skill of this, the most famous and renowned cellist of the late 20th century, a man for whom the work was written no less. (more…)

Britten / Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra

More of the music of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • An original UK Unboxed Decca stereo pressing with STUNNING Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • This one plays Mint Minus Minus to EX++ throughout, with no audible marks and no groove distortion of any kind, which is not bad considering it is an early pressing from 1964
  • We learned in our shootout that the London pressing can also be quite good, but none of them earned the kinds of grades the early Deccas did
  • For those who have never heard the work, check out The Young Person’s Guide on youtube — it is a tour de force of orchestral excitement, especially the percussion section

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The Bloated Cello Sound Some Audiophiles Find Appealing

The Music of Claude Debussy Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Claude Debussy

On this pressing we were a bit surprised at how natural the cello sounded — more like the real instrument and less like the typical recording of it. 

Normally when recording the cello, the microphones are placed fairly close to the instrument. This often results in what’s known as the “proximity effect,” which simply describes a boost in the lower frequencies relative to the more linear response of the microphone when placed at a distance.

The famous Starker cello recordings on Mercury — you know the ones, the originals and even the reissues sell for hundreds and hundreds of dollars — suffer from this effect, which audiophiles seem to prefer. (The Mercury heavy vinyl reissues, at least the ones I’ve played, were ridiculously fat and bloated in the bottom.)

Audiophiles did not seem to mind much, judging by the apparently strong sales and the rave reviews I read. Bass shy systems, and that means most of the systems owned by audiophiles, probably benefited from the bass boost. Systems with lots of large woofers — at least in our case — would of course make the sound of these pressings positively unbearable. That indeed was our experience.)

Getting back to the record at hand, it presents a more natural cello if only because the instrument has been miked from a greater distance.

Side two is a bit fuller sounding than side one, and one of them is going to sound more correct on your system than the other. I would not even want to say for sure which one actually is more correct, as the slight difference between them might be subtle enough to play into room and system non-linearities that plague all stereos and rooms.

Both sides here will sound the way these real instruments sound when played in the kinds of rooms that one might hear them in, practicing perhaps. That makes this recording unusual in the world of “audiophile recordings,” if I can call this one, and no less refreshing and enjoyable for it.

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Britten / Debussy / Schumann / Cello Sonatas / Rostropovich – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

The Music of Claude Debussy Available Now

Album Reviews of the music of Claude Debussy

Both sides of this promo London Blueback pressing of piano and cello music have SUPERB sound. If you’re a fan of the cello, the piano, or chamber works in general, you will have a hard time finding a better sounding recording than this.

Notice especially that there is practically no smear on the piano — the notes are clear, with their transients fully intact, something one rarely hears anywhere but in the live setting. The tonality of the piano is also correct from top to bottom.

But the real surprise here is how unusually natural the cello sounds — more like the real instrument and less like the typical recording of it.

Normally when recording the cello the microphones are placed fairly close to the instrument. This often results in what’s known as the “proximity effect”, which simply describes a boost in the lower frequencies relative to the more linear response of the microphone when placed at a distance.

The famous Starker cello recordings on Mercury — you know the ones, the orginals and even the reissues sell for hundreds and hundreds of dollars — suffer from this effect, which audiophiles seem to prefer. (The Mercury heavy vinyl reissues, at least the ones I played, were ridiculously fat and bloated in the bottom. Audiophiles did not seem to mind much, judging by the apparently strong sales and the rave reviews I read. Bass shy systems, and that means most of the systems owned by audiophiles, probably benefited from the bass boost. Systems with lots of large woofers — at least in our case — would of course make the sound of these pressings positively unbearable. That indeed was our experience.) (more…)

Barber, Bartok, Britten, Respighi / I Musici

More of the music of Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

More Classical ‘Sleeper” Recordings with Demo Disc Sound

This Philips Festivo reissue LP (not as pictured by the way, that’s an original) plays Mint Minus or better and sounds GREAT! This is a wonderful record — I Musici is one of my favorite groups. They play with tremendous energy, enthusiasm and feeling, taking works that have been recorded poorly by too many others and giving them a new lease on life.

The ‘Ancient Dances and Airs’ is superb here, one of the best on record. Britten’s ‘Simple Symphony’ is one of the best I’ve ever heard as well. Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’ is good but you can find better if you look hard enough. Highest recommendation for music.

Britten / Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra / Ozawa

The sound of this White Hot Stamper side two is SUPER TRANSPARENT — you can hear all the way to the back of the hall and then some! There’s so much ambience on this pressing it forced us to reevaluate the other copies in light of the sound we were discovering here.

As if that wasn’t enough, it had energy and immediacy we simply did not expect to hear. The sound is big and bold during the loud passages, but sweet and delicate when, for example, the woodwinds are spotlighted in the composition. (more…)

Britten / Piano & Violin Concertos / Richter – Reviewed in 2011

Hot Stamper Decca and London Pressings Available Now

This London pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, the Violin Concerto side. Here the violin sounds superb — rich, sweet and natural. The brass on this side is HUGE, which is a bit shocking for a later London from 1971. Once you get past the ’60s the sound of most Londons is opaque and flat (which describes perfectly far too many Londons with Solti at the helm), but not so here. The stage is as deep and wide as any vintage Golden Age recording we’ve played recently, and we’ve played plenty.  (more…)

Mussorgsky – Pictures At An Exhibition – Ozawa – A Good Record (Potentially), Not a Great One

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

This Chicago Symphony recording by RCA in 1968 has that BIG HALL SOUND we love here at Better Records. Multi-miking is kept to a minimum, which allows the listener to visualize the orchestra from a more natural perspective than other recordings of the work you may have heard. 

The sound is open and spacious, with lovely texture to the strings. The larger horns are especially well-captured here, Their dark and powerful sound, coupled with the fact that the recording is so dynamic and full-bodied, can really be quite moving. It might just send some shivers up your spine. (more…)