- This original Stereo London pressing of Karajan and the Vienna Phil’s performance of these classical pieces boasts stunning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last – just shy of our Shootout Winner
- It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that even our most well-cared-for vintage classical titles have trouble playing at
- These are superb readings of the works, and we know of no others that can compete with the sound of this Decca recording
- Clear, transparent, rich, big, spacious, tonally correct, with Tubey Magical textured strings, this record is doing practically everything right, and that makes it a very special pressing indeed
- 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
- A stunning copy of this classical masterpiece with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish
- By far our favorite performance for the work, and fortunately for us audiophiles, it is also the best sounding recording of the work that we know of
- With huge amounts of hall space, weight and energy, this is DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND by any standard
- When the brass is the way it is here – rich and clear, not thin and shrill – you have yourself a top quality DG pressing
- Virtually no smear to the strings, horns or piano – this is Golden Age Recording done right!
- Problems in the vinyl are sometimes 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
- There are about 150 orchestral recordings we think offer the best performance coupled with the highest quality sound. This record has earned a place on that list.
- More entries in our core collection of well recorded classical albums.
Reviewed in 2010 so take what we say with a large grain of salt. Dutch pressings are rarely the way to go.
This Dutch Import is the best sounding copy I have ever heard. It is dead silent and rich!
Big spacious hall sound. Lovely mid-hall perspective. Very smooth and sweet.
You can listen to music like this for hours and never get tired — the opposite of your typical Classic Records pressing.
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…)
I recently purchased a large number of EMI classical pressings from the ’70s, many of which had disappointing sonics. Without paying any attention to this particular record, I threw it on and was pleasantly surprised — it really sounded good! Checking the back of the cover (the old fold-over flap kind) I noted that this recording was from 1972 — of course it sounds great! EMI from that period is often AMAZING. It’s only later, when they got into quadraphonic, that their sound becomes vague, diffuse, hard and even sour. Some of the EMI records on the TAS List can sound that way, which is a real scandal in my opinion.
As for the performances, they are wonderful. This is not a German orchestra. The French know how to play their own music!
This record includes alborada de gracioso, rapsodie espagnole, valses nobles et sentimentales and more.
This is an Older Classical/Orchestral Review
Most of the older reviews you see are for records that did not go through the shootout process, the revolutionary approach to finding better sounding pressings we started developing in the early 2000s and have since turned into a veritable science.
We found the records you see in these older listings by cleaning and playing a pressing or two of the album, which we then described and priced based on how good the sound and surfaces were. (For out Hot Stamper listings, the Sonic Grades and Vinyl Playgrades are listed separately.)
We were often wrong back in those days, something we have no reason to hide. Audio equipment and record cleaning technologies have come a long way since those darker days, a subject we discuss here.
Currently, 99% (or more!) of the records we sell are cleaned, then auditioned under rigorously controlled conditions, up against a number of other pressings. We award them sonic grades, and then condition check them for surface noise.
As you may imagine, this approach requires a great deal of time, effort and skill, which is why we currently have a highly trained staff of about ten. No individual or business without the aid of such a committed group could possibly dig as deep into the sound of records as we have, and it is unlikely that anyone besides us could ever come along to do the kind of work we do.
The term “Hot Stampers” gets thrown around a lot these days, but to us it means only one thing: a record that has been through the shootout process and found to be of exceptionally high quality.
This fairly quiet Large Tulips early DG pressing in the heavy cardboard outer sleeve has THE BEST SOUND we have ever heard for this recording! Believe me, they don’t all sound like this! This copy is airy and sweet; just listen to the flutes — you can really hear the air moving through them. There is still some congestion in the loudest passages, but that’s unfortunately not something we can do anything about. Since it’s on every copy we’ve ever played we just have to assume it’s part of the recording.
Of the twenty or so clean copies we’ve auditioned over the last year or two, this one is clearly in a league of its own, with a price to match.
THE Tchaikovsky First
Since this is the best performance of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto of all time, the minor shortcomings in the sound are easy to overlook. The piano sounds solid and full bodied. I don’t know of another performance of this work that gets the sound of the piano better. You can really hear the percussive quality of the instrument. It’s amazing how many piano recordings have poorly mic’ed pianos. They’re either too distant, lack proper reproduction of the lower registers, or somehow smear the pounding of the keys into a blurry mess. The piano sound is what first impressed me when a friend of mine brought the record over for me to hear. Of course I bought it on the spot.
And the texture of the strings is out of this world — you won’t find a DG that gets with better string tone, and 99% of them are worse. This record does not sound like your typical DG: hard, shrill, and sour. DG made good records in the ’50s and ’60s and then proceeded to fall apart, like most labels did. This is one of their finest recordings. It proves that at one time they knew what they were doing.
This recording really only has one shortcoming, which is that in some sections, when it gets loud, it tends to be a bit congested. Other places are very dynamic. I’m guessing somebody dialed in too much compression in those spots, but who’s to say? (more…)
Near Mint original DG German Import with FABULOUS SOUND!
This large tulips label pressing has the sound only hinted at by the reissues. (This same recording is in the 6 LP Box set.) Lots of hall, with the kind of rich orchestral sound you don’t find on most DGs. Ferras is superb and Karajan is a master as well.
Phil is a long time customer who shares my love for Richter and Karajan’s powerful and exceptionally well-recorded performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1st Piano Concerto.
He knows full well how bad most copies sound — he has a few of his own to prove it. When he saw this beauty in the mailer he did what any self-respecting record lover would do: he jumped on it. Even at $500 he feels he got his money’s worth, and that’s a lot of money for a Deutsche Grammophon record, the kind that no record store in the world would charge more than ten or twenty dollars for. If only we could find more like it…
You called it exactly right. The opening salvo by the orchestra gave me chills, and I knew I was hearing something extraordinary. In spite of tutti mayhem, the sound and performance is operatic and thrilling. I’m surprised you parted with this one.
Phil, years ago I used to say on the site that the best copies go in my collection, but that hasn’t been true for quite some time now. I have about ten records in my collection that I’m keeping for one reason or another, and everything else goes into the shootouts we do around here. (I may list my own collection on the site one of these days. You could type up the whole list in twenty minutes.)
Good records should be played, and when do I have time to play records for myself? We spin the damn things all day long. Monday through Friday, the VPI is booked. On the weekends I like a little peace and quiet; can you blame me? So better that you have an amazing record like that to play. I’ll just be content with the memory of the sound — until we do the next shootout of course. Then we’ll play it all day long and I’ll have a chance to really get back into again.
The performance on that record is really one for the ages. I hope we find a Hot Stamper that sounds as good as the one you bought. I don’t expect to, but it sure would be nice for someone else to have the chance to hear that recording at its best.