Conductors

Mozart – Clarinet and Horn Concertos / Maag

More of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

More music conducted by Peter Maag

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  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful classical release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big, clear, present and transparent, with a HUGE bottom end, you better believe that this is some Demo Disc sound
  • Both sides are open, high-rez, and spacious, with depth like you will not believe and some of the least shrill string reproduction we have ever heard for this music (which is the main problem we run into on the album)

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Tchaikovsky / Nutcracker Suite / Karajan – Reviewed in 2005

The Music of Tchaikovsky Available Now

Album Reviews of the Music of Tchaikovsky

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This import pressing has some astonishing qualities, qualities we are not used to hearing on vintage Golden Age recordings such as this (or or any other recordings, truth be told). This 1964 release — our pressing is the whiteback reissue, which we tend to prefer — has 3-D-like clarity and spaciousness that we could hardly believe. The stage is DEEP and you can hear all the way to the back of it. The width of the stage is dramatically wider than practically any record I can remember playing in the last year or two. I felt as though my listening room got bigger when playing this record.

And the dynamics are explosive. This pressing can really get LOUD when it wants to.

In some respects it’s hard to beat. But not, alas, hard to fault.

It lacks weight down low, whomp as we like to call it.

The details: (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto No. 3 – Speakers Corner Remasters a Classic Mercury, Part One

More Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

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This commentary was written in 2004. We carried Heavy Vinyl back then, and for that I would like to apologize. Like the audiophiles of today, at the time I thought I knew a great deal more about records and their proper reproduction than I actually did.

Yes, I admit it: I suffered from the Dunning-Kruger effect. There is one very powerful benefit that I gained from being so mistaken. Having experienced it myself, the signs that you think you know more than you do are very easy to spot in others.  If you want to see the effect firsthand, go to any audiophile forum and start reading any thread you find there. It would be hard to miss.

Some thoughts on the new 180 gram Mercury reissues by Speakers Corner and a bunch of other record related stuff.

The Absolute Sound weighed in with their view of the series:

Speakers Corner has given these recordings the respect they deserve. The packaging is gorgeous: a black album titled “The Living Presence of 20th Century Music” and displaying the Mercury logo holds the three records with their original covers and liner notes. In addition, there are informative annotations on the music and Dorati, and a history of Mercury Living Presence…They sound at least as good and in some ways better than the originals…There are no negatives and not enough superlatives to describe these magnificent reissues. It’s rare that performance, sound, and musical value combine at this level in a recording.

Arthur B. Lintgen, The Absolute Sound, February/March 2004

Let me start by saying that I have not listened to a single one of the new Mercury titles.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me state for the record that the chances of the above statements as quoted in TAS being true are so close to zero that they cannot be calculated by anything but the latest Cray computer.

Has Speakers Corner produced a single classical record that’s better than a good original pressing? One or two. Maybe. So what are the chances they did so with these? Almost none I would say. (more…)

Rodrigo / Guitar Concerto / Fantasia Para Un Gentilhombre / Argenta / de Burgos

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Rodrigo - Concierto De Aranjuez / Fantasia Para Un Gentilhombre / Argenta / de Burgos - Super Hot Stamper

  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful classical guitar masterpiece with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • The sound here is glorious, brimming with the wonderful qualities that make listening to classical music in analog on top quality equipment so involving and pleasurable
  • The sound of the orchestra is as rich and sweet as would be expected from the Decca engineers, yet the guitar is clear, present and appropriately placed at the center of the ensemble surrounding it

If you were only to be allowed one Guitar Concerto recording, the Concierto De Aranjuez would probably be the one to own. You will recognize the main theme instantly; it’s the one Miles Davis appropriated for the astonishingly innovative Sketches of Spain album he did with Gil Evans.

The second picture in this listing is the original London, CS 6046, from which the piece is taken. It is a longtime member of the TAS List, and deservedly so. (more…)

Sibelius – Symphony No. 2 / Barbarolli

More of the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

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  • An outstanding copy of the best Sibelius Second Symphony on vinyl we know of – solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • One listen to this famous Wilkinson recording and you’ll see why it’s one of the most lauded RDG titles in all of their illustrious canon
  • “The Second Symphony has retained an extraordinary popularity for its individualistic tonal language, dark wind coloring, muted string writing, simple folk-like themes, and distinctly “national” flavor that are all Sibelian to the core.”

A truly extraordinary recording mastered beautifully but pressed on vinyl that has never been known for its quiescence (if I can get by with that ten-cent word).

The strings are clear and textured, yet rich and full-bodied. The bottom is big and weighty. The horns are tubey and full-bodied and never screech through even the most difficult passages. (more…)

Rimsky-Korsakov / Scheherazade / Ansermet – Not the Sound or the Performance You Want

More Recordings of Scheherazade

Hot Stamper Decca and London Pressings Available Now

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In our experience this is not the recording of the work to buy, on either Decca or London. Of the two recordings by Ansermet, we much prefer the one made with the Suisse Romande to that of the Paris Conservatoire.

We did a monster shootout for this music in 2014, one we had been planning for more than two years. On hand were quite a few copies of the Reiner on RCA; the Ansermet on London (CS 6212, his second stereo recording, from 1961, not the earlier and noticeably poorer sounding recording from in 1959); the Ormandy on Columbia, and a few others we felt had shown potential.

The only recordings that held up all the way through — the fourth movement being THE Ball Breaker of all time, for both the engineers and musicians — were those by Reiner and Ansermet.

This was disappointing considering how much time and money we spent finding, cleaning and playing those ten or so other pressings.

Here it is a year later and we’re capitalizing on what we learned from the first big go around, which is simply this: the Ansermet recording on Decca/London can not only hold its own with the Reiner on RCA, but beat it in virtually any area. The presentation and the sound itself are both more relaxed and natural, even when compared to the best RCA pressings.

The emotional content of the first three movements (all of side one) under Ansermet’s direction are clearly superior. The roller coaster excitement Reiner and the CSO bring to the fourth movement cannot be faulted, or equaled. In every other way Ansermet’s performance is the one for me. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

The Music of Tchaikovsky Available Now

More Records that Sound Better on the Right Reissue

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This remastered Victrola version of the original Living Stereo pressing (LSC 1901) is guaranteed to KILL any and all originals — Shaded Dogs, White Dogs, Red Seals — you name it, this pressing will beat the pants off of it, guaranteed. I’ve played many copies of the earlier RCAs and I have surely never heard one sound like this, with so much LIFE and CLARITY. Where is all the old cutter head distortion, congestion and frequency limiting? It’s sure not here!

Side one is Super Hot (A++) and side two is EVEN BETTER, earning our coveted Top Grade of A Triple Plus! You may have noticed that not many vintage RCA recordings make it to the site with stellar grades such as these, so that makes this a very special pressing indeed. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Swan Lake Highlights / Fistoulari

The Music of Tchaikovsky Available Now

 Reviews of the Music of Tchaikovsky

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

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  • Amazing White Hot Stamper Decca sound on both sides, top performance too
  • The first copy to make it to the site, and it’s as quiet as Decca can press it
  • So transparent, sweet, open and relaxed, this copy raises the bar for the sound of ballet music
  • The most popular ballet in the world with out of this world analog sound — it’s a match!

This London UK import may be the best single disc version of the ballet we have ever played. The Ansermet is surely comparable but I find it hard to believe that it could be any better. This is the one folks, assuming you do not want a (nearly) complete performance of the work. (For that we recommend the 2 LP box set with Ansermet.)

Side One

Lovely string tone and texture, rich bass, a big hall, no smear, lovely transparency — the sound is White Hot and hard to fault.

Highlights of the recording on this side:

Huge bass.

A clear snare at the back of the hall, a good test of transparency (of the record and of your system and room).

Full horns and strings, never becoming blary or shrill.

Huge space.

How many records have all these qualities, one out of a hundred? (more…)

Strauss / Death and Transfiguration and Till Eulenspiegel / Reiner

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This Plum Label Victrola has SUPERB better than Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, the side with Death and Transfiguration. It’s Tubey Magical, rich and sweet in the best Living Stereo tradition of recordings made during the Golden Age, in this case 1958. We had a Shaded Dog pressing of the recording in hand, LSC 2077, and it was better on side one but this Victrola was clearly better on side two.

And Reiner’s performance with the Vienna Phil is outstanding in every way. I have never heard the work performed better or sound better than it does on this very copy.

Side Two

A++ to A+++, nearly White Hot, and with a little more bottom end it would have been.

Clear, transparent, rich, big, spacious, tonally correct, with Tubey Magical textured strings, this record is doing practically everything we want it to.

Side One

A+ to A++, very much like side two but even more bass shy, which may become wearisome over the course of the whole side, depending on how loud you play the record and how full-bodied your system is.

A superb performance of the famous piece, played with verve. (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto No. 1 / Concert Fantasia / Katin / Boult

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

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

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  • This superb classical release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • The orchestra is big, rich and tubey here, yet the dynamics and transparency are first rate
  • 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

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