Classical – Works for Various Instruments

Andres Segovia / The Guitar and I – Reviewed in 2011

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

This Super Hot Stamper has amazingly NATURAL sound. It’s transparent and tonally correct and above all “REAL,” with the kind of sound you rarely hear on recordings made in studios.

This recording sounds like it was made in a practice room with microphones placed at a distance, accurately capturing the sound you would hear if Maestro Segovia had invited you to attend an advanced class for experienced players.

This is lovely, relaxing guitar music played by a master.

Side one is mostly made up of narration, wherein Segovia discusses his career.

If you see it for cheap, which it typically will be, pick it up and have a listen.

Rodrigo – Boieldieu / Harp Concertos – Speakers Corner Does a Disservice to DG

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Sonic Grade: C-

About ten years ago [twenty by now] a Heavy Vinyl version of this album was remastered and pressed by Speakers Corner, part of their disastrous foray into the DG catalog.

This title was decent, the Beethoven Violin Concerto was okay, as was one of the Tchaicovsky Symphonies with Mravinsky (#5), but the rest were just plain awful, offering truly disgracefully bad sound.

Funny, I don’t recall reading any bad reviews of these albums at the time. Oh, that’s right, these Heavy Vinyl records never get bad reviews, no matter how lifeless, opaque and unpleasant they might sound.

Except from us of course. We were writing about them back in the day and trying to sell just the better ones. We have since given up that effort as so few are really very good when you get right down to it.

Mozart / Quintet – Piano + Winds & Trio

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your chamber music recordings.

This is a handy record for VTA setup as well. Listen for fullness and solidity, especially in the piano, although a rich, full sounding clarinet is a joy here as well. 

Some of the copies lacked the weight and solidity to balance out the qualities of transparency and clarity. The resulting sound is less natural, with the kind of forced detail that CDs do so well, and live music never does. There is a balance to be found.

The right VTA will be critical in this regard. When you have all the space; the clearest, most extended harmonics; AND good weight and richness in the lower registers of the piano, you are where you need to be (keeping in mind that it can always get better if you have the patience and drive to tweak further).  (more…)

Mozart / Complete Wind Music Volume 2 / Brymer – Reviewed in 2004

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

Complete Wind Music Volume 2 / Brymer

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

This record plays NM and sounds superb! A great London title. 

This record includes Serenade in E Flat, Divertimento in E Flat and Divertimento in F and K.

Hovhaness / Sym. #4 / Giannini #3 / Eastman Wind Ensemble

More Hovhaness

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

These symphonies for winds are an audiophile delight. Mercury is famous for their wind band recordings and this is clearly one of their best.

The idea of a symphony performed only by wind instruments (with added harp and percussion) is novel, to me anyway, and I found the music nothing short of enchanting. One of the first wind recordings I fell in love with decades and decades ago was British Band Classics on Mercury with the EWO under Fennell. Whenever a copy comes in I play it and fall in love with it all over again. You may feel the same about this very record. (more…)

Julian Bream – The Art of Julian Bream

More Classical albums

Julian Bream

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  • You’ll find stunning sound on this vintage RCA Living Stereo pressing, with both sides winning our recent shootout and earning Triple Plus (A+++) grades for their superb sonics 
  • These sides are wonderfully full-bodied and natural, using State-of-the-Art All Tube Living Stereo recording technology that was so advanced in 1960 it could transport a living, breathing Julian Bream directly from his studio into your listening room, 59 years later (!)
  • The set list comprises mainly baroque arrangements for classical guitar, including an especially lovely version of Ravel’s ‘Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte’

(more…)

Byrd et al. / An Evening Of Elizabethan Music / Bream – Reviewed in 2011

More Living Stereo  

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

This lovely RCA Living Stereo Soria Pressing (LDS 2656) has reasonably quiet vinyl and EXCELLENT SOUND on side one. (It’s a little ticky but find me a Soria pressing that isn’t.)

Side one is so transparent you feel as though you are truly in the presence of the musicians. (Try that with any, and I do mean any, heavy vinyl pressing on the planet. Veiled and opaque, none of them can transport you like a properly recorded and mastered vintage LP can.)

The plucked instruments, of which there are many and varied, have their transient information properly reproduced on this side, with zero distortion. There is a small amount of upper-midrange boost — typical for RCA during this period — that holds side one back from our highest grade. It’s subtle but it’s real. (more…)

Brahms and Dvorak / Serenades / Kertesz – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak 

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

This London Whiteback LP (CS 6594) has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, which is where the Dvorak Serenade for 10 wind instruments, cello and bass can be found. It has lovely space and depth, with dead on tonality and lots of Tubey Magic.

If you love the sound of wind instruments (and who doesn’t? British Band Classics springs immediately to mind as one of the most enjoyable classical recordings I own), then this just may be the classical chamber recording for you. (more…)

Stockhausen / Noda – Zyklus & Eclogue on Direct to Disc (Reviewed in 2011)

More Audiophile recordings

More Stockhausen / Noda

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

This RCA 45 RPM Direct-to-Disc fulfills the promise of both the direct to disc recording medium AND the 45 RPM cutting speed so much in vogue these days. As with the Virtuoso Guitar record we listed today, the sound is simply SUPERB — open, dynamic and distortion free. This is a real DEMO DISC, no doubt about it.

I’ve known this record had top quality sound for decades; we started way back in 1987 selling these kinds of audiophile pressings and this one was clearly a Top Title even back then. I’m happy to say that, unlike most of the audiophile pressings we used to sell, this title has actually gotten BETTER with time.  (more…)

Live Sound Versus Chesky Sound

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Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon

What I hear on this pressing is sound that is absolutely free from any top end boost, much the way live music is. There’s plenty of tape hiss and air; the highs aren’t rolled off, they’re just not boosted the way they normally are in a recording.

A few years back I had a chance to see a piano trio play locally; they even performed a piece by Schubert. The one thing I noticed immediately during their performance was how smooth and natural the top end was. I was no more than ten feet from the performers in a fairly reverberant room, and yet the sound I heard was the opposite of what passes in some circles for Hi-Fidelity.

More of the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

This is the OPPOSITE of those echo-drenched recordings that some audiophiles seem to like, with microphones placed twenty feet away from the performers so that they are awash in “ambience.” If you know anything about us, you know that this is not our sound.

I have never heard live music sound like that and that should settle the question. It does in my mind anyway. The CHESKY label (just to choose one awful audiophile label to pick on) is a joke and always will be. How anyone buys into that phony sound is beyond me, but any audio show will prove to you that there is no shortage of audiophiles who love the Chesky “sound”, and probably never will be. (more…)