_Conductors – Munch

Ravel / Concerto in G – Munch/ Boston Symphony

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

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DEMO QUALITY SOUND!

Boy does this record ever sound good! It’s alive. Dynamic and immediate, like a good Mercury but with plenty of ambience and sweet strings — the best of both worlds.

This is one of the great RCAs. Classic Records did a passable job with this title, which is about the best they ever do. It’s a far cry from the sound heard here but for those of you who do not want to spend the money, or insist on quiet surfaces, check that one out.

The performance is excellent as well, and of course the Ravel Concerto is a piece of music that belongs in any serious collection. (more…)

Violin Recordings (Vintage or Modern) and the Problem of Smear

More Violin Recordings

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

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This copy had practically no smear on either the violin or the orchestra. Try to find a violin concerto record with no smear. We often say that Shaded Dogs, being vintage All Tube recordings, tend to have tube smear. But what about the ’70s Transistor Mastered Red Label pressings – where does their smear come from?

Let’s face it: records from every era more often than not have some smear and we can never really know what accounts for it.

The key thing is to be able to recognize it for what it is. (We find modern records, especially those pressed at RTI, to be quite smeary as a rule. They also tend to be congested, blurry, thick, veiled, and ambience-challenged. For some reason most audiophiles — and the reviewers who write for them — rarely seem to notice these shortcomings.)

Of course, if your system itself has smear it becomes that much harder to hear the smear on your records.  Practically every tube system I have ever heard had more smear than I could tolerate – it comes with the territory. And high-powered transistor amps are notoriously smeary, opaque and ambience-challenged. Our low-powered, all-transistor rig has no trouble showing us the amount of smear on records, including those that have virtually none.

Keep in mind that one thing live music never has is smear of any kind. Live music is smear-free. It can be harmonically distorted, hard, edgy, thin, fat, dark, and all the rest, but one thing can never be is smeary. That is a shortcoming unique to the reproduction of music, and one which causes many of the pressings we sell to have their sonic grades lowered. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Romeo & Juliet and Strauss / Til Eulenspiegel / Munch

The Music of Tchaikovsky Available Now

Album Reviews of the music of Tchaikovsky

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M- to M– 11s/ 8s early Red Seal copy with superb sound, especially on the Strauss side, which on most Shaded Dog copies is not very good. This copy is about as quiet as I’ve ever heard. For whatever reason, this title is never pressed on particularly quiet vinyl. Beautiful RCA Living Stereo sound.

Woodwinds have wonderfully correct timbre as usual. Hard to fault the sound here. Munch is brilliant.

Mendelssohn and Prokofiev – Violin Concertos / Heifetz / Munch

Hot Stamper Pressings Featuring the Violin

Superb Recordings with Jascha Heifetz Performing

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  • This wonderful Living Stereo pressing makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • A truly superb recording with huge, spacious, dynamic, lively sound – Tubey Magical richness is a big plus too
  • These performances by Heifetz and the Boston Symphony under the baton of Charles Munch are some of the best we’ve ever heard – Heifetz is on fire with passion for these exciting pieces

No violin concerto recording can be considered to have the real Living Stereo sound if the violin isn’t right, and fortunately this violin is very very right, with the kind of rosiny texture and immediacy that brings the music to life right in your very own listening room.

The Prokofiev concerto is a longtime member of the TAS Super Disc List. (more…)

Beethoven / Piano Concerto No. 1 / Richter / Munch – Our Favorite Performance on Vinyl

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  • This stunning vintage RCA Living Stereo pressing boasts wonderful Double Plus (A++) sound throughout, with vinyl that is as quiet as any Shaded Dog from 1961 is ever going to play
  • This pressing has the real Living Stereo magic in spades, but unlike most of the RCA concerto recordings, Richter, the brilliant soloist featured here, is not overly spotlighted, hence the much more natural “concert hall” sound
  • The piano is part of the orchestra, and properly sized, allowing the contributions of the other musicians in the orchestra to be heard more clearly, laid out as they are so elegantly across a huge and deep Boston Symphony Hall stage

(more…)

Tchaikovsky / Serenade for Strings – Munch – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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This original Shaded Dog pressing has WONDERFUL sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl for a record made in 1958. Like most recordings from the era, it has the strengths and weaknesses of simply-miked analog tapes recorded and mastered during The Golden Age. It’s every bit as RICH and Tubey Magical as one could ever want, but evidences some congestion in the loudest passages and a touch of tube smear even when quiet. With All Tube Mastering, this is of course to be expected.

The soundstage is especially wide on both sides but not quite as deep as one might expect. With more copies we could have done a better job of investigating the sound of the recording, but where does one find minty Shaded Dogs these days at affordable prices? Most of what we see is scratched and overplayed.

Be that as it may, the PERFORMANCE IS KING HERE — one of the greatest ever recorded, more powerful and more emotional than any with which we are familiar. This orchestra is on fire with this stirring music. If you haven’t heard Munch’s definitive performance, you haven’t really heard the Serenade for Strings. This is your chance to hear string playing that will have you sitting up in your chair, transfixed by the energy and enthusiasm of the Boston Symphony strings. (more…)

Dvorak / Cello Concerto – Munch / Boston – Hard to Recommend on Classic Records

More Antonin Dvorak

Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

A Classic Records pressing (Remember the Sound!) that never sounded much good to me. But the original never impressed either, as you can see from our review of it.

I have never heard a copy of this record sound better than decent. This title is very unlikely to have the wonderful sound of the best Living Stereo pressings that you can find on our site, each of which has been carefully evaluated to the highest standards.

We love the Starker recordings on Mercury. Wish we could afford to buy some and do a shootout. At the prices they command these days, that is very unlikely to happen. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Szeryng – Munch

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A decent reissue, a record worth buying at the right price but no Demo Disc by any means.

This plum label original Victrola pressing is actually better than most pressings of the rare Shaded Dog that we’ve played, LSC 2363. The violin tone is lovely on side one, but the orchestra is not what it should be.

Side two has Tartini’s Devil’s Trill which takes up about half the side and has the best sound here, earning a grade of A+ to A++.

Szeryng is excellent throughout.

Tchaikovsky – Serenade for Strings – Munch – A Cisco Recommended LP

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Sonic Grade: B

[Reviewed many years ago, so take it with a grain of salt.]

This Cisco 180 gram LP has Very Good sound. The original Shaded Dogs tend to be warmer and sweeter, but also more compressed and a bit smeary. This pressing is alive and present, although the string tone can be a bit steely at times.

If you have a warm, tubey system this record may just be the ticket. If your system leans toward the dry and analytical, this is not the record for you.

Be that as it may, the PERFORMANCE IS KING HERE — one of the best ever recorded, more powerful and more emotional than any I know. This orchestra is on fire with this stirring music. If you haven’t heard Munch’s definitive performance, you haven’t really heard the Serenade for Strings. This is your chance to hear string playing that will have you sitting up in your chair, transfixed by the energy and enthusiasm of the Boston Symphony strings. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Szeryng – Munch – Not Recommended

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1S/ 1S Shaded Dog.

The violin is very immediate sounding on this recording, maybe too much so. The sound of the orchestra is where this record falls short.

It’s congested, thin and shrill in places. The right copy of Heifetz’s performance on LSC 1992 is a much better record overall. Some may prefer Szeryng’s way with this famous piece, which is a matter of taste of course.

If you’re listening for just the performance and the sound of the violin, you may find this record to be more acceptable.