_Composers – Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto No. 3 / Janis/ Dorati – Years Ago We Favorably Reviewed a Mono Pressing

xxxxx

CBFR-1/CBFR-2. This Mono pressing sounds SUPERB, much smoother and more natural than I remember the Stereo pressings sounding. What’s interesting about these Monos is they’re not mastered by Robert Fine. They are mastered by someone with the initials J.J., who apparently does all the Mono mastering. The reason Mercury Monos can sound as good as they do is because they have their own separate microphone feed and their own separate Mono tape recorder dedicated all to themselves. (London did the same thing and that’s why so many London Monos are amazing sounding.)

I don’t think you can find a better sounding Rachmaninoff 3rd on Mercury than this one. 

[Of course we no longer agree with that.  The best stereo copies are in an entirely different league. The mono can be good, but it cannot be great in the way the stereo pressings can be.] (more…)

Prokofiev & Rachmaninoff / Piano Concertos / Janis / Kondrashin

xxxxx

  • This pressing has Beyond White Hot Stamper (A++++) sound on side one – sound that must be experienced to be believed! – backed with stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • The finest Prokofiev No. 3 and Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 1 – these performances by Janis are legendary, and with phenomenal sonics like these, this combination of sound and performance is all but unmatched in our experience
  • So big, so, rich, so transparent, so dynamic and full of life, we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto record in your life
  • Compare the weight of the piano on the two sides to see why the grades are so different

Please note: we award the Four Plus (A++++) grade so rarely that we don’t have a graphic for it in our system to use in the grading scale shown above. We rarely find records with this kind of sound, just a few times a year at most — this is the only one on the site at this time.

Side one shows up on the chart as A+++, but when you hear this copy you will know why we gave it that fourth plus!

This is an exceptionally quiet early Mercury Plum label stereo pressing of two of Byron Janis’s most famous performances (along with the Rachmaninoff 3rd, which is every bit as good). It’s a longtime member of the TAS Super Disc list.

The recording is explosively dynamic and on this copy, the sound was positively jumping out of the speakers. In addition, the brass and strings are full-bodied and rich, with practically no stridency, an unusual feat the Mercury engineers seem to have accomplished while in Russia.

Big, rich sound can sometimes present problems for piano recordings. You want to hear the percussive qualities of the instrument, but few copies pull off that trick without sounding thin. This one showed us a piano that was both clear and full-bodied.

With huge amounts of hall space, weight and energy, this is DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND by any standard. Once the needle has dropped you will quickly forget about the sound and simply find yourself in the presence of some of the greatest musicians of their generation captured on some of the greatest analog recordings of all time. (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Concerto #1 For Piano & Orchestra / Katin / Boult

xxxxx

CS 6055. Demo quality. Incredible sound. The piano is heard surrounded by the hall. This is much more natural than the usual spotlight. Ferocious brass. I love it. Blueback pressing.

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

xxxxx

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

xxxxx

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.
(more…)

Chopin / Various Works / Badura-Skoda – Reviewed in 2011

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

xxxxx

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

xxxxx

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

xxxxx

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

xxxxx
xxxxx

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…)