Classical – Works for Piano & Organ

Where Cheap Turntables Fall Flat – The Music of Franz Liszt

 

lisztpiano_1503s_1375270815

Classical music is unquestionably the ultimate test for proper turntable/arm/cartridge set-up. The Liszt recording you see pictured is a superb choice for adjusting tracking weight, VTA, azimuth and the like.

One of the reasons $10,000+ front ends exist is to play large scale, complex, difficult-to-reproduce music such as Liszt’s two piano concertos. You don’t need to spend that kind of money to play this record, but if you choose to, it would surely be the kind of record that can show you the sound your tens of thousands of dollars has paid for.

It has been my experience that cheap tables more often than not collapse completely under the weight of a mighty record such as this.
(more…)

Gershwin / Rhapsody In Blue / Thomas

xxxxx

  • Gershwin’s rendition of his stunning Masterpiece makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last 
  • Lively, dynamic, transparent, spacious and musical throughout – you won’t believe how good this copy sounds
  • Using the piano roll capturing the performance of the composer himself, Gershwin’s take on the Rhapsody is spirited and jazzy – the work is performed at a thrilling pace
  • This performance and arrangement is sure to give its audience a new perspective on what Gershwin was trying to accomplish with his “experiment for piano and jazz band”

(more…)

Brahms – Concerto No. 2- Reiner / Gilels – Cisco Reviewed

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: C+?

Another Heavy Vinyl pressing from Cisco / Impex reviewed.

It’s been quite a while since I played the Cisco pressing, but I remember it as being quite good. At the time we wrote: “The overall sound is smooth and spacious. The piano may lack the full weight of the live instrument, but that’s RCA’s fault, not Cisco’s. If you can look past that you will find this to be one of the better Living Stereo reissues available today.” and we’ll just have to stick with that for now, since we haven’t played the record in more than ten years.

Mozart / Quintet – Piano + Winds & Trio

xxxxx

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…)

Shostakovich & Ravel / Piano Concerto No. 2 & more / Bernstein – Reviewed in 2011

xxxxx

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

Super Hot Stamper or BETTER sound for the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No.2, which is positively SUPERB on this later Columbia pressing. It’s shockingly transparent, rich and sweet, with wonderful depth and clarity. Where is the shrill, upper-midrangy, glary, hard sound we’ve come to expect from ’60s Columbia recordings like this one?

Well, dear reader, I’ll tell you. Right here on this very side two, the Ravel side. It’s typical Columbia from the period, with nasally, pinched upper-mids, the kind which make the strings and brass screech and blare at you in the worst way.

If Columbia’s goal was to drive the audiophile music lover screaming from the room, on this side two they have succeeded brilliantly. On side one they’ve failed; it sounds great! (more…)

Beethoven / Concerto No. 4 / Rubinstein / Krips – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

xxxxx

This Super Hot Stamper pressing has superb RCA Living Stereo sound, with an exceptionally clear, solid, tonally correct piano.

We recently did a major shootout for all of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos, pulling pressings from the three major Golden Age labels — RCA, London, Mercury — and this Fourth came out near the top of the heap. Most pressings of Rubinstein’s Beethoven concertos simply do not have this kind of open, big and bold sound. Side one earned a grade of A++ and side two was actually a bit better at A++ to A+++. That makes this a very special piano recording indeed. (more…)

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. 

Beethoven / The Emperor Concerto / Backhaus – Reviewed in 2010

xxxxx

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

Another top London, recorded with more of a mid-hall approach, and smooth sound that reminds me much more of a live concert than most recordings do. This is a demo quality disc, if what you are demonstrating is the kind of realistic piano sound and natural, relaxed presentation found in the concert hall. These may not be qualities that all audiophiles appreciate, but we sure as hell do.

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…)

Schumann & Grieg / Piano Concertos / Lupu / Previn / LSO – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

xxxxx

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

This is an EXCELLENT SOUNDING London pressing of the famous TAS list LP. I’ve never heard a quieter copy. Usually these are noisy as hell and this one plays dead quiet most of the time, and Mint Minus the rest.

HP was right: the Grieg here has the best sound. The piano is amazingly well recorded; the sound is rich and powerful. The orchestra sound better on the Grieg as well; it’s slightly more compressed and leaner on the Schumann side.