_Conductors – Karajan

Adam / Giselle / Karajan – A Classic Decca Recording from 1962

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Outstanding Recordings from 1962 Available Now 

Reviewed in 2010.

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.


Some of Our Favorite Recordings from 1962

The Complete List of Recordings from 1962 We’ve Reviewed

Tchaikovsky / Nutcracker Suite / Karajan – Reviewed in 2005

The Music of Tchaikovsky Available Now

Album Reviews of the Music of Tchaikovsky

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…)

Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto No. 1 / Richter – Our Favorite Performance and Sound By Far

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

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  • 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!

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Ravel / Karajan Conducts Ravel / Orchestre de Paris

Minty looking EMI LP with quiet vinyl (for EMI anyway) and EXCELLENT SOUND!

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.

Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto #1 / Richter/ Karajan – Our First Shootout Winner, 2008

The Music of Tchaikovsky Available Now

Album Reviews of the Music of Tchaikovsky

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…)

Tchaikovsky / Concerto For Violin and Orchestra / Karajan/ Ferras – Reviewed in 2008

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.

Tchaikovsky – “I’m Surprised You Parted With This One”

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Album Reviews of the music of Tchaikovsky

Phil is a long time customer who shares my love for this powerful performance. 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…

Phil writes: 

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.

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