Labels We Love – Decca/London

Massenet / Le Cid / Martinon – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Jules Massenet (1842-1912) 

Le Cid / Martinon 

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

Superb Super Hot Stamper sound for Les Patineurs, and the Le Cid is just a step behind at A+ to A++. We had a copy of the famous Greeensleeves pressing for our shootout, along with a number of Londons, and this Stereo Treasury had the highest overall sonic grades of all of them. The original Blueback pressing — true, we only had the one, so take it for what it’s worth — was a complete disaster: shrill, with no top or bottom to speak of.

Both these pieces are audiophile Must Own Demonstration pieces, full of depth, ambience, and wonderfully correct instrumental timbres, especially from the woodwinds. Add explosive dynamics and deep bass and you have yourself a genuine audiophile recording.   (more…)

Chopin, Rachmaninoff et al. / Richter – Reviewed in 2011

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

Chopin, Rachmaninoff et al. / Richter 

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

This collection of WONDERFUL solo piano works, here performed by one of our favorite pianists. Sviatoslav Richter, has SUPERB Living Stereo sound, earning a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade on side one. On this White Dog original pressing the piano is present and clear, with no smear whatsoever. Although the sound is big and rich, without more weight to the piano — the kind you rarely hear outside of a live event — we could not award the full Three Pluses. In practically every other way the sound was Hard To Fault (HTF).  (more…)

Beethoven / Symphony #6 (Pastoral) / Ansermet

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

Beethoven / Symphony #6 (Pastoral) / Ansermet 

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

In our opinion this is the best sounding Beethoven 6th Symphony ever recorded. It is the most beautiful of them all, and has long been my personal favorite of the nine Beethoven composed.

Ansermet’s performance is clearly definitive to my ear as well. The gorgeous hall the Suisse Romande recorded in was possibly the best recording venue of its day, possibly of all time; more amazing sounding recordings were made there than any other hall we know of. There is a richness to the sound that exceeds all others, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least. (more…)

Gilbert and Sullivan / Pirates of Penzance – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More Gilbert & Sullivan

More Pirates of Penzance

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

EXCELLENT sound on EVERY side, which means it is truly a Demo Disc. On virtually every side it has the kind of rich, sweet Decca/London sound over which we audiophiles have been known to drool. It’s nothing short of AMAZING on the White Hot side — so lively, rich and HUGE. This is a Top London pressing in every way.  (more…)

The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock N’ Roll

More Rolling Stones

It’s Only Rock N’ Roll

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll is no slouch if you get hold of a good one. It can be a bit gritty and grainy at times, but you gotta believe that’s the sound the Stones heard in the booth and were totally cool with. Andy Johns engineered and he’s made as many super-tubey, super-rich and super-smooth recordings as anybody this side of Bill Porter. 

The Stones didn’t want that sound this time around. The Stones wanted this sound.

This album may have some of The Rolling Stones best music on it, but those looking for the best sounding Stones album should look in the direction of Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers or Let It Bleed. They’re simply better recordings. (more…)

Falla / El Amor Brujo & El Retablo de Maese Pedro / Argenta – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More of the music of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

El Amor Brujo & El Retablo de Maese Pedro / Argenta

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

The famous Ansermet recording of El Retablo de Maese Pedro (Master Peter’s Puppet Show) has been mastered on this London Stereo Treasury Import LP to near PERFECTION. This is High Fidelity Audiophile Demo Disc Quality Gold, with bells, drums, voices, trumpets, strings, woodwinds and more, all sounding so real it will take your breath away. This Golden Age tape has been mastered brilliantly with “modern” mastering equipment (from the mid-’60s, not the low-rez junk they’re forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound that only the best of both worlds can offer.   (more…)

Mozart / Notturno in D Major For 4 Orchestras / Maag – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Notturno in D Major For 4 Orchestras / Maag

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

This London title has long been a favorite of ours here at Better Records, and this Blueback copy does not disappoint (except in the area of condition, see the notes below). Side one, much like the amazing Mozart record we listed today, is spacious and three-dimensional like you will not believe. I would rank it in the Top Five Per Cent of all classical recordings in respect of those qualities. You can hear into the soundstage on this pressing like few recordings you own, we guarantee it.

It’s another London winner. You may get tired of me saying it, but it has DEMO QUALITY SOUND as regards its imaging and soundstaing.  (more…)

Mozart / Quintet – Piano + Winds & Trio – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Quintet – Piano + Winds & Trio

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

Yes, you can expect to find White Hot DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side one of this Blueback pressing (CS 6109), possibly the best sound Decca/London ever achieved in the chamber music format. It’s hard to imagine these five instruments sounding much better than they do here. And the sound for the Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Viola on side two is nearly as good, earning a sonic grade of A++. 

The record is vastly underrated in the famous Moon/ Grey book. No doubt they had a mediocre stamper — how many copies of every title could they possibly have played? — but this is anything but.

I have never heard better staging for a chamber work of this kind. All five instruments are so clearly set apart from each other and tonally correct that it is nothing less than fascinating to be able to follow each instrument as it weaves its way through the score. (more…)

Albeniz / Suite Espanola / De Burgos – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) 

More Albeniz / Suite Espanola / De Burgos 

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

This London LP from 1968 has some of the MOST DYNAMIC SOUND I have ever heard on a classical recording. The sound here is BIGGER and BOLDER than any pressing of this record I’ve ever played. The dynamics are absolutely startling in their power here. To be fair the other copy we have on the site has a more extended top end, which is a shortcoming that this copy has — it’s a bit rolled off in the extreme highs. But that other copy lacks weight, so that the orchestral climaxes are thin and feel strained. (more…)

Haydn / Symphonies No. 22 & 90 / Ansermet – Reviewed in 2012

More of the music of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

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

Nearly White Hot Stamper sound (A++ to A+++) for side one of this early British Stereo Treasury pressing, which should not come as too much of a shock — this is after all a vintage Golden Age performance by Ansermet and L’Orchestre de La Suisse Romande, a 1966 recording from the glorious Victoria hall in which so many of our favorite recordings were committed to analog tape through the all-tube chain Decca had perfected. 

If only they all sounded this good! Although side two sounds much better than the average STS we play, at A+ it’s hardly in the same league as this superb side one.

Side One

A++ to A+++, so transparent, BIG, spacious and natural, this is the sound of live classical music. Many of the colorations some audiophiles like — the Decca thickness and overly rich bass just to pick two — are not to be found here, which is precisely why it sounds more like live music! (more…)