_Composers – Rachmaninoff

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

We found 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.

All of which adds up to a top quality piano recording in every way.

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Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto No. 3 – Years Ago We Liked a Mono Pressing

Hot Stamper Mercury Pressings Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concertos

CBFR-1/CBFR-2. This Mono pressing sounds SUPERB, much smoother and more natural than I remember the Stereo pressings sounding. What’s interesting about these Monos is they’re not mastered by Robert Fine. They are mastered by someone with the initials J.J., who apparently does all the Mono mastering. The reason Mercury Monos can sound as good as they do is because they have their own separate microphone feed and their own separate Mono tape recorder dedicated all to themselves. (London did the same thing and that’s why so many London Monos are amazing sounding.)

I don’t think you can find a better sounding Rachmaninoff 3rd on Mercury than this one. 

[Of course we no longer agree with that.  The best stereo copies are in an entirely different league. The mono can be good, but it cannot be great in the way the stereo pressings can be.] (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto No. 2 / Katchen / Solti

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Sergei Rachmaninoff

Classical and Orchestral Imports on Decca & London

This is a twenty year old review of a pressing we have not played in many years, so please take what we say with a very large grain of salt.

Beating that in mind, if you see one for cheap in your local record store, give it a good look and, for the five bucks they will probably be asking, take a chance to see if the record actually does have the sound we heard all those years ago.

Folks, what we are offering here is THE SLEEPER Hot Stamper pressing of all time. Side one earned an amazingly good grade of A++ with side two every bit as good. The buyer of this album is going to be SHOCKED when he sees what pressing it is. 

For those of you who cherish pressings for their best sound and performances — as opposed to the typical audiophile collector who prefers the “right” original labels on his records, of course produced only in the “right” countries — this is the record for you.

Hold it up for your (right-thinking or otherwise) audiophile friends to witness before you put it on your table and BLOW THEIR MINDS.

How did this kind of sound get produced so cheaply, so late in the game? From what tape, by what engineer? It is a mystery to me, one that is very unlikely to be explained to anyone’s satisfaction. (more…)

Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 2 / Ashkenazy / Kondrashin

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

 More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • An outstanding pressing of this superb Decca recording with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • This copy is guaranteed to beat any and every pressing you have of the work or your money back
  • Big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic – HERE is the sound that simply does not exist outside the world of the properly cleaned, properly pressed vintage LP
  • On both of these sides you’ll hear rich strings, clear horns, a piano that is full-bodied and natural, with a solid low end (the kind you rarely hear on record but is nonetheless strikingly obvious in the presence of the real instrument)

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Rachmaninoff – Have You Ever Noticed that Sometimes the Highs Will Come Back?

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Hot Stamper Mercury Pressings Available Now

This side one is interesting., I would say that it starts out Super Hot (A++) and within a few minutes becomes White Hot (A+++). The piano is a bit veiled at the start, but within a relatively short period of time that subtle loss of transparency disappears and the piano is RIGHT THERE.

This is not unusual in our experience.

The first track on many records can sound dull, and by the second track the highs come back and the tonality is right from top to bottom. Who knows why?

We speculate that the vinyl did not have time to fully heat up the edge of the record, but that’s speculation, something that has almost no value in our (yours and mine) quest for better sounding records. 1A, 1B, first off the stamper, who gives a flying you-know-what. You have to play the record to know how it sounds.

The rest is BS, proffered by those who are simply too lazy to do the work of actually cleaning and playing multiple copies of an album to know what they are talking about.

Side Two

A++, with all the texture and transparency we heard on side one. The strings are PERFECTION — truly Demo Disc quality.

The piano however does not quite have the weight it does on side one, so we knocked a plus off, putting this one at A++.

Only the last quarter inch has the slightest amount of groove damage on the loudest piano peaks. We’ve never heard one that played cleaner all the way through, I can tell you that. [This was written about a decade ago. Now we have, many of them in fact. They are out there, but if you buy a copy, make sure you can return it for Inner Groove Distortion because most of them have a problem in that area.]

What an amazing recording! What an amazing piece of music!

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Audiophile Reviewers Raved About This Doug Sax Tube Mastered Mess

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Reviews and Commentaries for TAS Super Disc Recordings

Records that Do Not Belong on a Super Disc List

The reviews below will sound depressingly familiar to you if you have been in audio for as long as I have.

Sonic Grade: F

This Athena LP is now long out of print, but it received rave reviews when it was released. (We quote many of them below.) This album is a member of the TAS Super Disc list, but we found the sound awfully opaque, smeary, slow and compressed, the kind of bad “analog” sound that Doug Sax brought to the early AP releases. 

The sticker on the shrink wrap of a previous copy had these quotes:

“…for this is the definitive symphonic recording to date.” – J. Gordon Holt/ Stereophile

“Wins ‘Best Record of the Year’ award against tough competition.” – Joe Hart/High End Audio Press & Music Review

“HP heard the Athena remastering of the Rachmaninoff and found it stunning. He could recommend it without reservation.” – Harry Pearson/The Absolute Sound #57

I guess things never change.

Reviewer malpractice? We’ve been writing about it for more than 25 years.

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Rachmaninoff – Symphony No. 1 / Previn

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 1 debuts on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout this original British EMI Quadraphonic pressing
  • The London Symphony Orchestra is wide, tall, spacious, rich and tubey, yet the dynamics and transparency are first rate
  • These sides are clear, full-bodied and present, with plenty of space around the players, the unmistakable sonic hallmark of the properly mastered, properly pressed vintage analog LP

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Rachmaninoff – Symphony No. 2 / Previn

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

More TAS List Super Discs

  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this vintage British EMI pressing of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2
  • A long term resident of the TAS Super Disc list, and one I never realized was anything special until my stereo got a lot better about ten or fifteen years ago
  • There are a few marks that play, but EMI’s from this era always seemed to have one problem or another, so this is not surprising – there’s simply no way around these issues if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • This recording of the work is guaranteed to put to shame any Heavy Vinyl pressing of this music you may own

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Rachmaninoff / De Falla – Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini / Nights In The Gardens Of Spain

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

More Classical Recordings in Living Stereo

  • You’ll find STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Living Stereo sound throughout this vintage (but not original) RCA pressing of these wonderful classical compositions
  • The rich, textured sheen of the strings the RCA engineers achieved in the ’50s and ’60s is a joy to hear throughout these pieces
  • This is something the Heavy Vinyl crowd will never experience, because that sound just does not exist on modern remastered records the way it does on these vintage pressings
  • 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
  • To see more of the best orchestral recordings with top quality sound we’ve done shootouts for, click here
  • If you’re a fan of Rachmaninoff and/or Rubinstein, this Living Stereo from 1960 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1960 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Until we heard the right later pressings, we had always been disappointed with this TAS List recording, wondering what all the fuss was about. The original Shaded Dog pressings we had played left a lot to be desired. Like many of the old records we audition, it badly lacked both highs and lows, our definition of boxy sound.

Well, now we know. The early Shaded Dog pressings have consistently worse sound than the reissues we are offering here.

We never offered the record in Hot Stamper form because we didn’t think the sound of the originals was all that impressive, TAS List or no TAS List.

Mystery solved, and truly Hot Stampers have now been made available to the discriminating audiophile.

Harry’s list, as was so often the case, did not provide the information needed to find the pressing that captured all the qualities of the recording the way this one does.

Did Harry have a good later pressing? Did he have an original and simply liked it more than we did? We’ll never know.

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Rachmaninoff / The Complete Piano Concertos – Wild / Horenstein

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

More TAS Super Disc Recordings

  • The vinyl is as quiet as we can find it – like most Shaded Dogs and Mercs, Mint Minus Minus is about the best you can hope for (and no marks are audible, which is always nice)
  • We have been readying this shootout for probably twenty years – we had 8 box sets, all in excellent condition, and this set represents some of the best sound we uncovered for these famous TAS List recordings
  • Wild’s playing of the Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini here is one of our favorites on vinyl
  • 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
  • “Rachmaninoff’s music . . . changes as the composer goes along, moving from Romantic to a tentative Modernism in such works as the fourth piano concerto and the Symphonic Dances. In this sense, he walks a path similar to Puccini’s, incorporating new approaches to extend that [which was] already essentially his. Certainly, the works here show these changes, as the composer picks up more experience, both in writing and in hearing music.”

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