_Conductors – Martinon

Shostakovich / The Age of Gold – If You Own This Pressing, My Guess Is It’s Pristine

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

When Classic Records was blowing out its unsold inventory through the Tower Records Classical Annex in Hollywood many years ago — apparently they had run into some financial trouble — this was a title you could pick up for under ten bucks. I remember it being $7, but my memory may not be correct on that point. Whatever the price, it was cheap.

And even at that price it seemed nobody really wanted it.  Which is as it should be. Heavy Vinyl or no Heavy Vinyl, a bad record is a bad record and not worth the bother of sitting down and listening to it.

If you own this record, my guess is it is pristine.

If you played it at all, you played it once and put it away on a shelf where it probably sits to this very day. Good records get played and bad records don’t. If you have lots of pristine records on your shelves, ask yourself this question: Why don’t I want to play them?

You may not like the implications of the answer: They aren’t any good.

And that means you should never have bought them in the first place. But we all make mistakes. Owning up to them may be hard, but it is the only way to make any real progress in this hobby.

The One Out of Ten Rule

If you have too many classical records taking up too much space and need to winnow them down to a more manageable size, pick a composer and play half a dozen of his works. Most classical records display an irredeemable mediocrity right from the start; it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it.

If you’re after the best sound, it’s the rare record that will have it, which makes clearing shelf space a lot easier than you might imagine. If you keep more than one out of ten you’re probably setting the bar too low, if our experience is any guide.

If you want nothing but amazing sounding classical records, we typically have quite a selection.


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

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

Classical Living Stereo Titles Available Now

200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

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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. 

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Classic Records Release on Heavy Vinyl

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.

When Classic Records was blowing out its unsold inventory through the Tower Records Classical Annex in Hollywood, this was a title you could pick up for under ten bucks. I remember it being $7, but my memory may not be correct.

And even at that price it seemed nobody really wanted it.  Which is as it should be. Heavy Vinyl or no Heavy Vinyl, a bad record is a bad record and not worth the bother of sitting down and listening to it.

If you own this record, my guess is it is MINT. If you played it, you played it once and put it away.

(more…)

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

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

Classical Living Stereo Titles Available Now

200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

xxxxx

  • 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 Below Average Classic Records Pressing

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

Classical Living Stereo Titles Available Now

200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: D

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.

When Classic Records was blowing out it’s unsold inventory through the Tower Records Classical Annex in Hollywood, this was a title you could pick up for under ten bucks. I remember it being $7, but my memory may not be correct.

And even at that price it seemed nobody really wanted it.  Which is as it should be. Heavy Vinyl or no Heavy Vinyl, a bad record is a bad record and not worth the bother of sitting down and listening to it.

If you own this record, my guess is it is MINT. If you played it at all, you played it once and put it away on a shelf where it sits to this very day.

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 Ballet & Meyerbeer / Les Patineurs – A Good Speakers Corner Decca

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

Le Cid Ballet & Meyerbeer 

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Sonic Grade: B

Finally a version of Le Cid that we can enjoy! Superb sound with a performance to match! No more suffering through the hi-fi-ish Doug Sax/ Acoustic Sounds rebutchering of the Fremaux on Klavier.  

Audiophiles in droves bought into that one, apparently not noticing the overblown bass and spark-spark-sparkling top end. Thankfully we now have this Decca from Speakers Corner to demonstrate proper orchestral balance. (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…)