_Conductors – Fennell

Winds In Hi-Fi / Fennell – Another Top Mercury from the TAS List

Hot Stamper Mercury Pressings Available Now

More Recordings Conducted by Frederick Fennel

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  • This famous TAS list LP finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • This pressing boasts superb sound on both sides – Mercury knows how to capture the bite of the brass
  • Fennell is a master of this sort of sweet and lyrical Wind Music
  • This spectacular Demo Disc recording is big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic – HERE is the Mercury sound we love, and that is so hard to find

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

The credit must go to Fennel along with the brilliant engineering team at Mercury. I’ve been told that he was a stickler for making sure everyone was perfectly in tune and playing correctly within the ensemble. That’s exactly what you hear when you play a record like this — it’s practically sonic perfection.

Fennell made a number of band music recordings for Mercury. My favorite is British Band Classics Vol. 2, which was the first Mercury recording I ever heard. I went out and bought a copy of it immediately from my local Tower Records on Golden Import.

Years later when I heard the real thing, and original pressing, I realized the Golden Import was a pretty second rate reissue, fine for the $4.99 I might have paid but a big step down from the early pressings.

Also, if you ever see a clean copy of Vol. 1, only available in Mono, pick it up. If it’s cut right it too is out of this world. (more…)

Wagner for Band / Eastman Wind Ensemble

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

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  • 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 agestere

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British Band Classics Vol. 2 – The First Classical Record I Bought as an Audiophile

More of the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

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British Band Classics Volume Two was the first Mercury classical LP I ever bought. After hearing it at an audiophile friend’s house I went down to Tower Records and found one in the bin. I think the price was $3.99 for the Golden Import pressing, which of course was the only one available. That was what I had heard, so I had no idea that the original even existed, let alone sounded better and would one day sell for many hundreds of dollars. This was the ’70s, when you could walk into a record store and buy new records, and long before HP created a feeding frenzy for vintage Mercs.

As I’m writing this, I can picture myself in the store. I can still remember that the clerk who helped me find the record commented that I should have come in the week before when the record was on sale for $1 off. I certainly feel like I got my money’s worth that day. This album went on to become one of my personal treasures. I used to marvel at the way the wind instruments actually sounded like the pipes of an organ. (I wasn’t really sure at first that there wasn’t an organ playing somewhere on the record. I didn’t know much about classical music then. ) (more…)

Anderson / The Music of Leroy Anderson Vol. 3 / Fennell – Reviewed in 2011

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Volume Three (SR 90400) of Anderson’s recordings for Mercury with Fennell conducting has long been a favorite or ours here at Better Records. The first volume is of course on the TAS Super Disc list, and when you get a good copy of it you will have no trouble believing it is a Super Disc. But so is this one, provided you play the right pressing of course.

On this RFR-1 Maroon label pressing STILL IN THE SHRINK, side two has the Super Hot stamper sound. The sound is shockingly rich, smooth and sweet. Where is the Mercury dryness and screechiness and upper-midrange nasality we’re all so used to from their records? It’s nowhere to be found on this copy, and that’s a good thing!

The strings are huge on this side as well, wall to wall and not bright. The sound is clear and correct from top to bottom!

Side one is not even close I’m sorry to report. The sound is huge and 3-D but there is just much too much smear to qualify as a Hot Stamper pressing. We rate it A to A+. (more…)

Gould / West Point Symphony / Fennell (SR 90220)

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RFR-3/RFR-1. Quiet and Near Mint! Superb sound.

Explosive, dynamic, big sound. The music on side 2 by Bennett is especially enjoyable.

Performed by the Eastman Wind Ensemble under the direction of Frederick Fennell. This performance also includes Bennett’s ’Symphonic Songs For Band’, Williams’ ’Fanfare and Allegro’, and Work’s “Autumn Walk”.

Sousa / Sound Off! / Fennell / EWE – Reviewed in 2010

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This Mercury pressing is EXCELLENT ON BOTH SIDES, way better than the copies we played it against. It has a GIGANTIC soundfield — spacious and three-dimensional, deep and wide. The clarity is excellent and there’s a ton of energy. Those of you with tubes in your system are likely to get the most out of this music.

Many of you are likely to recognize The Liberty Bell on side two — it’s the Monty Python theme song! (more…)

Holst / British Band Classics Vol. 1 / Fennell – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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This RARE Super Hot Stamper Mercury Mono original pressing has the kind of BIG, LIVELY, tonally correct sound that not one out of fifty mono records we play can lay claim to. If more mono records sounded like this one I wouldn’t be so down on mono all the time.

But they don’t. Most mono records sound SMALL. When you have big speakers, set far apart and far from the back wall, in a pretty good sized room, small is just not the sound you want to hear! Especially when it comes to classical music. I want a front row seat, and this record is a first class ticket to one.  (more…)

Holst / British Band Classics Vol. 2 / Fennell

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Side one big, full and dynamic, with horns and winds that are never screechy. (Side two of this first LP is very screechy and not at all to our liking.) 

Side two of the second record has the sound of live music. Huge space, clear yet rich, this is the sound we were looking for! (more…)

Hindemith / Symphony in B Flat / Fennell

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This Mercury RFR pressing contains Hindemith’s Symphony In B Flat, Schoenberg’s Theme And Variations Opus 43a and Stravinsky’s Symphonies Of Wind Instruments. All three pieces sound quite good here, and we’ve rated both sides between A+ and A++ overall. The sound is very dynamic and spacious throughout in the best Mercury tradition. Mercury was also known for its top quality performances of landmark 20th century works such as these, and here, as expected, Fennell and his venerable Eastman Wind Ensemble do not disappoint.   (more…)