Labels We Love – Decca/London

Paganini / Violin Concerto 1 & 2 / Ricci (LL 1215) – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Niccolò Paganini

Violin Concerto 1 & 2 / Ricci (LL 1215)

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

This is one of the MOST AMAZING VIOLIN RECORDINGS in the history of the world. For sheer violin virtuosity it doesn’t get any better than this. Ricci and London in the early ’50s cannot be beat! This is a true Demo Disc with music of the highest caliber, and I’m betting whoever takes this one home will be THRILLED. 

Both sides are dynamic, full-bodied, lively and sweet. This is a vintage London mono recording of the ’50s and consequently has some limitations in terms of bandwidth and of course soundstage, but the luscious midrange more than makes up for both. The violin is REAL in a way that few other recordings manage to make it.

Since this is a particularly thick piece of vinyl, you’ll get the best sound from this one by adjusting your VTA a bit as if it were a modern Heavy Vinyl release. Of course, I don’t think there’s any modern Heavy Vinyl out there that could hold a candle to a record like this! And when the VTA locks in perfectly on this record you will know it — the tonality is Right On The Money. (more…)

Saint-Saens / Symphony #3 / Mehta – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

Symphony #3 / Mehta

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

This British London pressing is the winner of our recent shootout. We had three London pressings, all the same stamper numbers if I recall correctly, and this is the only copy to have Super Hot Stamper sound on either side. Side one is actually quite nice, with lovely texture to the strings. The sound is transparent and natural, two qualities that are in short supply on most of the recordings Mehta did with the L.A. Phil. in our experience.

We pulled out all the copies of this famous work we could find in the backroom and most of them were just awful. This is not an easy work to record, incorporating as it does an organ with a large orchestra. (I saw the work performed back in 2009 and it was magical. There is nothing like the sound of violins playing high over the organ notes below.) (more…)

Delibes / Coppelia / Ansermet – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891) 

More Coppelia / Ansermet 

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

Very good sound from the Master Ballet Conductor, Ernest Ansermet, with only a few slightly bright passages marring an otherwise wonderful recording.  

Sibelius / Violin Concerto / Ricci – Fjeldstad – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

Violin Concerto / Ricci – Fjelstad

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

This is a wonderful sounding London Stereo Treasury pressing featuring one of our favorite violinists, Ruggiero Ricci, performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor. The tone of the violin on side one is just right — every nuance of Ricci’s bowing can clearly be heard!   

While the violin sounds amazing on side one, the orchestra lacks a bit of weight. This side is also not quite as tubey magical as it could be. In our opinion, however, the violin tone and the incredible dynamics are more than enough to award this an A++ grade.

Side two actually has a bit more fullness, but this also seems to rob the violin of some of its presence. We gave this side an A+.

Bartok / Piano Concerto No. 3 / Kertesz / Katchen – Reviewed in 2009

More Classical Music on London 

More Bartok / Piano Concerto No. 3 / Kertesz / Katchen 

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

This Super Rare original London pressing has EXCELLENT SOUND and lovely music. The piano is especially well recorded, with the orchestra exhibiting the patented lovely, rich, rossiny string tone, with tons of depth and spaciousness to the sound. This is the first copy of the album I have run into, and my first exposure to the Bartok Piano Concerto, which is actually wonderful.

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…)

Beethoven / Famous Beethoven Overtures / Munchinger – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven

More Famous Beethoven Overtures / Munchinger

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

This British London Blueback original pressing has better than A+ Hot Stamper sound on both sides. The music is lively and well-played, as one would expect from the venerable Karl Munchinger leading the Vienna Phil.

The sound is quite good but very different for each of the two sides. For more on the sound please see our notes below. (more…)

Ravel, Falla, Weber & Berlioz – Alborado…, Bolero, more – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Ravel, Falla, Weber & Berlioz – Alborado…, Bolero, more

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

Side two here has a SUPERB sounding Bolero, and an EVEN BETTER Alborado del Gracioso, possibly the best we have ever heard. True A Triple Plus sound.

As you probably know, Bolero is very hard to find on vinyl properly performed with audiophile quality sound. The sound of Bolero here is excellent: very natural, not harsh at the end where the trombones comes in, and the not too compressed. (This is probably the biggest problem with most recordings of the work. Compression makes the quieter parts ravishingly open and clear, and positively ruins the climax with distorted compressor overload.) 

Alborado… has some of the best sound we have heard on London. It’s spacious, dynamic and clear. With an extended top end the strings and horns sound harmonically correct. The orchestra from top to bottom is tonally correct as well. (more…)

Brahms / Hungarian Dances / Dvorak / Slavonic Dances – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

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

The London pressing of this music used to be on the TAS List but appears to have been dropped at some point over the years. Not that I would notice what comes and goes on HP’s list, as I do not hold it in as high a regard as most audiophiles I have met over the years. For some reason there were those who tended to think it definitive or consistent. I can assure you it is neither.

The Brahms here (side one) is nothing special on this copy, but the Dvorak is SUPERB, sounding much better than the other Bluebacks we played and the Stereo Treasury copies as well. With Reiner at the helm both sides are lively and fun. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Concerto for Violin / Campoli / Argenta / LSO

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Concerto for Violin / Campoli / Argenta / LSO

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  • Another Blockbuster classical recording comes to the site – a rare and amazing Blueback pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades 
  • One of the best sounding copies of the work we have ever played – the orchestra is big, rich and tubey, yet the dynamics and transparency are first rate
  • The violin here is superb, as good as we’ve heard — rich, smooth, clear, resolving
  • What sets the truly killer pressings apart is the depth, width and three-dimensional quality of the sound 

The violin here is superb, as good as we heard — rich, smooth, clear, resolving. What sets the truly killer pressings apart is the depth, width and three-dimensional quality of the sound. The Tubey Magical richness is to die for. Big space, a solid bottom, and plenty of dynamic energy are strongly in evidence throughout. Practically zero smear, maximum resolution and transparency, tremendous dynamics, a violin that is present and solid — this pressing took the sound of this recording beyond what we thought was possible.

Quick Notes for Side One

Richer and smoother when loud. Tubey and sweet. Loud passages are huge, yet clear, with no smear. HTF (Hard To Fault).

Quick Notes for Side Two

Amazing rosiny violin. 100% transparent yet so rich and tubey. Performance is tops. Deep bass too. (more…)