Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades on both sides make this a Sibelius Violin Concerto with top sonics and a performance to match – fairly quiet vinyl too
It’s some of the best sound we have ever heard for the work, right up there with our longtime favorite, the Heifetz on Living Stereo (LSC 2435)
One of the truly great 1958 All Tube recordings from Kingsway Hall, captured faithfully in all its beauty by Alan Reeve & Gordon Parry on this very disc
“In the easier and looser concerto forms invented by Mendelssohn and Schumann I have not met a more original, a more masterly, and a more exhilarating work than the Sibelius violin concerto.”
The best Shaded Dog pressings of the Heifetz performance on RCA (LSC 2435) are the equal of this London. RCA presents the violin more immediately in the soundfield. Decca’s engineers integrated the violinist into the orchestra, which of course is the way it would be heard in the concert hall. To our ears, both approaches work exceptionally well — when you have at your disposal exceptional pressings of each. We had copies of both that were Hard to Fault, which made for a very enjoyable shootout.
Note that it has been close to ten years since our last big shootout for the work. That’s how long it takes to find enough clean London, Decca and RCA pressings for recordings such as these. Noisy, second-rate copies are everywhere. Top quality early pressings in clean condition come our way less than once a year. There are literally thousands of clean, vintage classical pressing sitting in our stockroom, waiting for a few more copies to come our way so that we can finally do a shootout.
With engineering in the legendary Kingsway Hall, there is a richness to the sound of the strings that is exceptional, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least.
It’s practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years (and this of course includes practically everything pressed on Heavy Vinyl). It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful vintage pressings to play it’s an art that is not being lost on us.(more…)
This is a WONDERFUL London Whiteback pressing of works by Grieg and Franck, with some of the most natural piano concerto sound we’ve heard around here in quite a while. We had a couple of copies of this one — two to be exact — and this was clearly the better sounding of the two.
The recording has a mid-hall perspective, more like the sound of live music than the famous Rubinstein recording for RCA, just to take one example. The piano is warm and full-bodied, the strings rich and sweet — who can ask for more?
Transparency and an extended top end were both key to the better sounding copies. You really hear into the soundfield with the best pressings, and all the harmonics are clear and right when the top end is correct.(more…)
We recently gave the Heavy Vinyl pressing from Speakers Corner, the same one that we had previously recommended back in the ’90s, a sonic grade of C+ in our current Heavy Vinyl Scorecard section. To our ears now it has many more shortcomings than it did back then, which we discuss below.
So often when we revisit the remastered pressings we used to like on Heavy Vinyl we come away dumbfounded — what on earth were we thinking? These are not the droids sounds we are looking for. Perhaps our minds were clouded at the time. (more…)
This is a wonderful sounding London Stereo Treasury pressing featuring one of our favorite violinists, Ruggiero Ricci, performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor. The tone of the violin on side one is just right — every nuance of Ricci’s bowing can clearly be heard!
While the violin sounds amazing on side one, the orchestra lacks a bit of weight. This side is also not quite as tubey magical as it could be. In our opinion, however, the violin tone and the incredible dynamics are more than enough to award this an A++ grade.
Side two actually has a bit more fullness, but this also seems to rob the violin of some of its presence. We gave this side an A+.
This is overall the best sounding pressing of the Fjeldstad / LSO we have ever played, with BETTER than Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides. For those of you who know your Londons, when you see the label on this LP you will no doubt be shocked: This is the last pressing in the world that one would expect to sound good.
Of course we here at Better Records don’t give a sh*t about any such conventional wisdom / collector bias. We like audiophile quality sound and we don’t give a damn where we find it. Up against the competition this copy was superb in practically every way, excelling with orchestral size, weight and energy like virtually no other.
This is to be expected from a recording of its renown. What was not to be expected was the actual pressing that delivered those sonic qualities
We’ve loved the Blueback pressings in the past; this time not so much (too crude and opaque with jello for bass.(more…)
This vintage RCA Living Stereo Camden LP has Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides. It’s one of the best Camdens, if not actually THE best. In true Living Stereo fashion, a natural, realistic concert hall perspective unfolds before you. As we noted about side one: it’s rich, smooth, sweet and tubey — what’s not to like? Lovely sheen on the strings too. This is our kind of sound!
Fjeldstad’s performance is excellent as well. Fjeldstad, you may remember, is the man behind the definitive Peer Gynt on Decca (SXL 2012). His recordings may not be common but they have never disappointed. If you can’t own all 104 of Haydn’s symphonies, make sure that at least this one is in your collection.(more…)
The Fjeldstad has long been one of our favorite performances of Peer Gynt here at Better Records.
This record is handy for VTA set-up as well, a subject discussed below in our listing from 2010.
The sound is excellent for a modern reissue*, but in the loudest sections the orchestra can get to be a bit much, taking on a somewhat harsh quality. (The quieter passages are superb: sweet and spacious.)
So I adjusted the VTA a bit to see what would happen, and was surprised to find that even the slightest change in VTA caused the strings to lose practically all their rosiny texture and become unbearably smeared.
This is precisely why it’s a good heavy vinyl recording for setting up your turntable. If you can get the strings to play with reasonably good texture on this record you probably have your VTA set correctly.(more…)
One of the greatest records in the London catalog. As you may have read elsewhere on the site, the Londons to me have the best overall sound of any Golden Age label. As good as RCA and Mercury were, the Londons are more consistently sweet, tonally correct, dynamic and natural sounding. This is a perfect example.
Amazing DEMO QUALITY SOUND. This is the best sounding copy of this record I have ever heard! Side two is astonishingly good: there’s nothing like it.