_Composers – Rachmaninoff

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…)

Various / Heart of the Piano Concerto – Rubinstein – Reviewed in 2008

More Living Stereo

Various / Heart of the Piano Concerto

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

This is an EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD SOUNDING Shaded Dog pressing with fairly quiet vinyl. What’s surprising about this is how transparent and low distortion it is. Just as with Destination Stereo (LSC 2307), the excerpts here frequently sound better than they do on the original complete performances. Rubinstein’s piano is solid and clear sounding, which is rarely the case, especially for his Beethoven concertos. Those almost never sound good, but the excerpt here for Concerto #3 is excellent. 

Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto #1/ Janis / Reiner – Reviewed in 2005

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

Piano Concerto #1/ Janis / Reiner

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

This is a Minty RCA Victrola Plum Label LP. I used to think that the Classic was better than the Vic, and in some ways it may be, but I hear a lot of midrange magic on this LP that I don’t think you can find on the Classic pressing. [No kidding.] 

Side two sounds even better than side one. Burleske sounds especially good on this copy. (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Concerto #2 – Rubinstein/ Reiner – Reviewed in 2008

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

Concerto #2 – Rubenstein/ Reiner

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

This is the earlier pressing, which stretches the Rachmaninoff piece over both sides of the record, resulting in a more dynamic pressing. The sound is tonally right on the money with the superb, rich, sweetly textured strings we have come to expect from RCA in this period. The piano has exquisite tone as well. This is a lovely, lyrical piece of music and the natural sound conveys the qualities of the work perfectly.