_Performers – Oistrakh

Vivaldi / Four Concerti For Two Violins and Orchestra / Stern & Oistrakh – Ormandy

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This Columbia 360 label pressing (MS 6204) has an especially lovely side two. The extended tape hiss is a dead giveaway that this copy has the high frequencies that are going to let the violin harmonics come through beautifully, and they do! The sound is mid-hall on both sides, but side two is richer than side one, less edgy and more relaxed, which is all to the good.

Both sides feature virtuoso playing, with plenty of rosiny texture to the violins. The vinyl is also very quiet, mostly mint minus. (more…)

Saint-Saëns / Rondo Capriccioso / Chausson / Poeme / Oistrakh

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  • With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, this collection of violin showpieces simply could not be beat 
  • This copy was dramatically fuller, richer, tubier and smoother than the others we played, and ALIVE with pyrotechnic fireworks on side one
  • A superb 1963 Living Stereo recording with Tubey Magic to die for, one of the best violin recordings we have ever offered
  • The highlight for us on a collection like this is always going to be The Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, “one of Saint-Saëns’ few genuine showpieces.”

The violin here is superb — rich, smooth, clear, resolving. What sets the truly killer pressings apart is the depth, width and three-dimensional quality of the sound. The Tubey Magical richness is to die for. This record sounds like a Living Stereo recording from 1963 in all the best ways.

Big space, a solid bottom, and plenty of dynamic energy are strongly in evidence throughout. Zero smear, high-rez transparency, tremendous dynamics, a violin that is present and solid — it takes the sound of this recording beyond what we thought was possible.

The Miracle of Living Stereo

This record shows off Living Stereo sound at its best. The full range of colors of the orchestra are here presented (on side one; side two is simply violin and piano) with remarkable clarity, dynamic contrast, spaciousness, sweetness, and timbral accuracy. If you want to demonstrate to a novice listener why modern recordings are unsatisfactory, all you have to do is play this record for them. No CD ever sounded like this.

The richness of the strings, a signature sound for RCA in the Living Stereo era, is displayed here beautifully for fans of the classical Golden Age.

It’s practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years. It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful vintage pressings to play it’s an art that is not lost on us.

I don’t think the RCA engineers could have cut this record any better — it has all the Living Stereo magic one could ask for, as well as the clarity and presence that are missing from so many other vintage Golden Age records.

This is pretty much as good as it gets, folks.

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Tchaikovsky / Concerto for Violin & Orchestra / Oistrakh – Not Too Big to Fail

More Tchaikovsky

More Concerto for Violin & Orchestra / Oistrakh

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Side two of this copy from our 2016 shootout provides a clear example of the effect known as the “The Violin That Ate Cincinatti.”

Yes, it may be oversized, but it’s so REAL and IMMEDIATE and harmonically correct in every way that we felt more than justified in ignoring the fact that the instrument could never sound in the concert hall the way it does here — unless you were actually playing it (and even then I doubt if it would be precisely the same sound — big, but surely quite different) (more…)

Mozart / Sinfonia Concertante / Oistrakh (Igor and David) – Speakers Corner Reviewed

More of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Sinfonia Concertante / Oistrakh

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Sonic Grade: B

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca.

Years ago we wrote the following:

“One of the best of the Decca reissues! EXCELLENT SOUND for these pieces, written for violin, viola and orchestra.”

Can’t be sure we would still feel that way but I’m guessing this is a good record at the price.

Bruch / Scottish Fantasia – Oistrakh / Horenstein

More of the music of Max Bruch 

Scottish Fantasia – Oistrakh / Horenstein 

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

CS 6337. This Minty looking London Whiteback LP has THE MOST AMAZING SCOTTISH FANTASIA I have ever heard! Folks, it doesn’t get any better than this. I would say this is one of the five best sounding violin recordings I have ever heard. Interestingly, the violin sound that we typically put up with is found on side two of this very album. It’s easy to forget that there are actually records that sound like side one, and that side two really isn’t the way an orchestra is supposed to sound.

The Hindemith side is weak on this pressing. The Bruch found here is musically every bit as good as the famous Heifetz recording (LSC 2603) and so is the sound. (The sound is actually better I would guess, but without a Hot Copy of 2603 — very hard to find, by the way — I can’t really make that claim honestly.)

Violin concerto fans will love this one, especially those who appreciate the real thing and not the typically shrill and aggressive sound of most of the modern 200 gram reissues by you know who.

Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, this record also features Hindemith’s Violin Concerto (1939).

Can You Imagine Getting a Record This Good in the Mail?

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The MHS pressing above can have superb sound.

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The original Angel pressing shown above is at best mediocre in our experience.

MHS remastered the original 1967 Melodiya tape in 1979, dramatically improving upon the sound of the version that I knew on Angel, which shouldn’t have been too hard as the Angel is not very good.

Wait a minute. Scratch that. MHS didn’t cut the record, an engineer at a mastering house did. Fortunately for us audiophiles, the job fell to none other than Bill Kipper at Masterdisk.
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