_Composers – Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff / Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini / Reiner – Reviewed in 2005

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

1S/ 1S Shaded Dog with fairly good sound. As is usual with this album, and most Rubinstein records, the piano lacks weight compared to the best Golden Age recordings. 

Rachmaninoff / Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini / Fiedler

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

Side two here earned a seriously good sonic grade of A++ for the two shorter works by Franck and Litolff respectively. The top end is extended and the overall sound is quite clear and natural. 

Side one is not quite up to the sound heard on side two. We rate it A+. It’s a bit dark and there is some smear on the piano. However, this is a wonderfully well-recorded album, so even at one plus the sound is still quite respectable. (more…)

Venerable or Execrable? If It’s Athena the Chances Are Good It’s Execrable

rachmaninoffathena

I spied an interesting quote on the Acoustic Sounds site years ago:

“…Analogue Productions’ 45rpm remastering improves upon the venerable Athena LP release from the late 80s, with better dynamics and a fuller ‘middle’ to the orchestral sonority.” – Andrew Quint, The Absolute Sound, October 2010

For some reason Andrew uses the word “venerable” when a better, certainly more accurate term would have been “execrable.” Having played the record in question this strikes us as the kind of mistake that would not be easy to make.
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Chopin / Various Works / Badura-Skoda – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)  

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

TWO SUPER HOT SIDES for this collection of solo piano works by one of the instrument’s foremost composers. Big, clear and solid on both sides, this is superb music performed and captured with honesty.

If you can handle a bit of noise, this is an excellent way to hear some of the finest piano music ever written, beautifully laid out on a big soundstage. (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Symphonic Dances / Johanos – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Symphonic Dances / Johanos

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

This famously good sounding Vox pressing has been remastered a number of times, but you can be sure that the Hot Stamper we are offering here will beat any of those modern pressings by a wide margin in any area that has to do with sound (surfaces are another matter). 

Both sides are Super Hot, with side two being ever so slightly better. The sound is dynamic, lively and BIG. The best of the great Golden Age recordings will be slightly more transparent, but other than that this pressing is doing what they do — bringing the power and vibrant colors of the symphony into your listening room! (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Three Symphonies / Waart – Reviewed in 2005

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Three Symphonies / Waart

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

Three Minty looking Philips Import LPs with EXCELLENT SOUND!

The sound is dark and rich. You may prefer it as I do to the famous Previn performances on EMI, which have that mid-hall, vague ’70s EMI sound. It never appealed to me. 

The performances are excellent as well. The second symphony belongs in any serious collection and you get a very good one in this box set. This set includes Rachmaninoff’s Symphonies 1-3 and ‘The Rock,’ Op. 7.

Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto #2 / Cliburn / Reiner – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Piano Concerto #2 / Cliburn / Reiner

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

We dropped the needle on side one of this lovely and quite rare Shaded Dog pressing and heard very good Living Stereo orchestral sound. We ended up giving it a sonic grade of A+ to A++.

When we flipped it over and heard the sound on side two, our jaws hit the ground (simultaneously? Can’t say for sure). WOW! It’s clearly one of the BEST piano concerto recordings we have ever had the pleasure of placing on our turntable. It puts to shame 98% of the piano recordings we’ve played over the years. Who knew LSC 2601 could sound so good? 

No one besides us it seems. No audiophile reviewer seems to be impressed by it, as far as we can tell after a quick search. Is it the only copy in the world that sounds this good? Who’s to say? Side one won’t win any awards, but side two sure will. It sets a standard not many other recordings of piano and orchestra are going to be able to meet. (more…)

Ravel / Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner – Classic Records Debunked

More Maurice Ravel

Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked. 

There is simply an amazing amount of TOP END on this original pressing. Rarely do I hear Golden Age recordings with this kind of ENERGY and extension up top. This is of course one of the reasons the Classic reissue is such a disaster. With all that top end energy, Bernie’s gritty cutting system and penchant for boosted upper midrange frequencies positively guarantees that the Classic Reiner Sound will be all but unplayable on a proper system.  

Boosting the bass and highs and adding transistory harshness is the last thing in the world that The Reiner Sound needs. (more…)

Rachmaninoff – Symphonic Dances – Johanos – (Reviewed in the ’90s)

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Symphonic Dances / Johanos

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame Pressing and another Heavy Vinyl Classical LP debunked.

This Athena LP is now long out of print, but it received rave reviews when it was released. (We quote many of them below.) This album is a member of the TAS Super Disc list, but we found the sound awfully opaque, smeary, slow and compressed, the kind of bad “analog” sound that Doug Sax brought to the early AP releases.  (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Concerto No. 2 / Katchen / Solti – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Concerto No. 2 / Katchen / Solti

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

Folks, what we are offering here is THE SLEEPER Hot Stamper pressing of all time. Side one earned an amazingly good grade of A++ with side two every bit as good. The buyer of this album is going to be SHOCKED when he sees what pressing it is. 

For those of you who cherish pressings for their best sound and performances — as opposed to the typical audiophile collector who prefers the “right” original labels on his records, of course produced only in the “right” countries — this is the record for you.

Hold it up for your (right-thinking or otherwise) audiophile friends to witness before you put it on your table and BLOW THEIR MINDS.

How did this kind of sound get produced so cheaply, so late in the game? From what tape, by what engineer? It is a mystery to me, one that is very unlikely to be explained.  (more…)