_Conductors – Martinon

Shostakovich – Symphony No.1 / The Age Of Gold Ballet Suite / Martinon

More of the music of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • The Symphony No. 1 concludes for about the first inch on side two and is excellent as well, with many of the same attributes, as rightly befits a true Golden Age Classic from 1959
  • Recorded in Kingsway Hall with the London Symphony, this Decca licensed title has orchestral sound to rival the best you’ve heard
  • “This is an example of what art as recorded sound should strive to be. A triumph for all participants.”

The second picture you see is the original Living Stereo release.

Our Story

The first copy of the album I got my hands on and needle-dropped blew me away with its big, open, clear, solid orchestral sound. Close to three years later, when we had enough copies to do this shootout, sure enough it won. That rarely happens — in a big pile of records there’s almost always something better than whatever we’ve heard — but it happened this time.

Imagine if I had played one of the bad sounding or noisy ones to start with. It’s unlikely I would have been motivated to pursue the title and consequently the shootout we just did would have never happened. Lucky for us all that that first copy was so good.

These sides are “real” sounding, with a clean bottom and clean lower mids. Little to no smear. The sound is full-bodied and rich, yet clear and clean, and spread out on a huge stage – it’s yet another example of proper Orchestral Reproduction.

This is the kind of record that will make you want to take all your heavy vinyl classical pressings and put them in storage.  (more…)

Shostakovich – The Age of Gold – Another Mediocre Classic Records Pressing

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Sonic Grade: D

Another Classic Records classical title reviewed and found wanting.

It’s been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as fairly typical of their mediocre-at-best catalog, tonally fine but low-rez and lacking space, warmth and above all Tubey Magic.

I don’t think I’ve ever played an original or a VICS reissue that didn’t sound better, and that means that the best grade to give Classic’s pressing is probably a D: below average.

Ibert / Divertissement / Martinon – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens

More Ibert / Divertissement / Martinon

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This London LP has a very good A+ to A++ side two. Lively and not too bright with nice space and clarity, the Jeux D’Enfants is very enjoyable. Le Rouet D’Omphale (the Spinning Wheel) which follows is even better! Natural and dynamic with rich strings, the tonality is wonderfully balanced. 

Performed with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra under Jean Martinon, this record also features Bizet’s Jeux D’Enfants and Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre and Le Rouet D’Omphale.

Side one, unfortunately, is not up to the same standard. Both sides, of course, have been through our exensive cleaning process and should sound substantially better than average.

Prokofiev / Symphony #5 / Martinon (LSC 2272) – Reviewed in 2010

More Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Symphony #5 / Martinon (LSC 2272)

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This rare Shaded Dog pressing has an absolutely AMAZING side two. It’s transparent, with sweet (yes, for the Prokofiev 5th!), smooth and rich strings. Listen to how natural the woodwinds sound on this side 

Side two here is the fluke, since most of the time this record sounds terrible. But now we know how well engineered it really is. We have the copy right here to prove it! (more…)

Massenet / Le Cid / Martinon – This Blueback Was Awful

More of the music of Jules Massenet (1842-1912) 

Le Cid / Martinon 

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing. Don’t buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals are always better.

The original Blueback pressing — true, we only had the one, so take it for what it’s worth — was a complete disaster: shrill, with no top or bottom to speak of.  (more…)

Borodin / Symphony No. 2 – Martinon

More Borodin 

More Symphony No. 2 – Martinon 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This Minty looking RCA Living Stereo LP has AMAZING SOUND. It’s everything a Living Stereo record should be — warm and rich with lots of depth and silky highs. The lower strings on this record are hands down some of the best I’ve ever heard. They’re so rich and textured. Out of all the Decca recorded RCAs I’ve had the pleasure (or misfortune as the case may be!) of listening to, this is definitely one of the top dogs.

If this record were quiet it would easily fetch $300; unfortunately that ain’t the case. The only reason we’re offering this copy for sale is because the sound — and the music — are OUT OF THIS WORLD!

Massenet / Le Cid / Martinon – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Jules Massenet (1842-1912) 

Le Cid / Martinon 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

Superb Super Hot Stamper sound for Les Patineurs, and the Le Cid is just a step behind at A+ to A++. We had a copy of the famous Greeensleeves pressing for our shootout, along with a number of Londons, and this Stereo Treasury had the highest overall sonic grades of all of them. The original Blueback pressing — true, we only had the one, so take it for what it’s worth — was a complete disaster: shrill, with no top or bottom to speak of.

Both these pieces are audiophile Must Own Demonstration pieces, full of depth, ambience, and wonderfully correct instrumental timbres, especially from the woodwinds. Add explosive dynamics and deep bass and you have yourself a genuine audiophile recording.   (more…)

Music Of Berlioz / Martinon

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This English Stereo Treasury pressing (on an odd lookinig Orange label, with handwritten stampers I have never seen before) has a SUPERB side two and side one is almost as good! The original release is London CS 6101 and I doubt most copies of it would sound this good.

This is Classic Old School Decca sound, rich and smooth with an exceptionally wide and deep soundstage. All the instruments are clear and have good texture, which is what one rarely hears on the most early pressings, which tend to be thick and dark. A little more top and this side two would have earned the full Three Pluses. (more…)