Labels We Love – Deutsche Grammophon

Mussorgsky et al. – Danse Infernale – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More of the music of Modest Mussorgsky

Danse Infernale

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

It took two copies — one for side one, one for side two — to find two sides this good. We love this album but most copies are unbelievably dreadful. (Actually, if you’ve played a fair number of DG recordings over the years you might not have any trouble believing how bad the average one is, so I take that back.) 

This German Import has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND — of a kind. Being a DG recording, one of the things you won’t be demonstrating with this record is natural string tone — it’s just not part of the DG sound. But, this record is ALIVE.

Some of the most powerful deep bass I have ever heard on LP. Dynamics that are rarely heard outside of the concert hall. Wonderful spaciousness, openness and depth. String basses and cellos that growl like the real thing.

But you don’t really want to buy this record for the sound, as good as it is in its own way. What you want to buy this record for is the best performance of Night On Bald Mountain ever recorded. Fiedler plays it with a kind of abandonment that no other conductor has to my knowledge. It’s supposed to be a wild witches’ frenzy, and this is the only performance I know of that allows you to picture such diabolic revelry in your mind’s eye. (more…)

Prokofiev / Lt. Kije / Abbado – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Lt. Kije / Abbado

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

This German 33 RPM White Hot Stamper pressing of our favorite recording of Prokofiev’s wonderful Lt. Kije Suite has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND. For starters, there are very few records with dynamics comparable to those found here. As this is my favorite performance of all time, with this kind of Demo Disc sound I cannot recommend the record any more highly. (more…)

Mozart / Symphonies No. 39 & 36 / Bohm

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

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

This is not your typical DG, and as far as we’re concerned that’s a good thing! If you end up with this copy you may find yourself agreeing with us that it actually sounds pretty much like a good RCA pressing from the era, with the kind of rich, sweet sound that the best RCAs are famous for, and rightly so.  

The sound on side one is spacious and sweet, with good texture to the strings, far from the smeared, hard, steely sound that so many DG pressings suffer from. And side two is even better! More transparent, with better texture and even richer sound. (more…)

Mozart / Piano Concertos # 17 & 21 / Anda – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

Piano Concertos # 17 & 21 / Anda

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

This EARLY heavy cardboard Stereo in Red DG Large Tulips pressing is nothing short of PHENOMENAL on side one. It’s SPACIOUS and three-dimensional that goes beyond practically any classical recording I’ve ever played. I would rank it in the Top One Per Cent for those two qualities. You hear into the soundstage on this record like you will not believe.  

The string tone is especially rich and sweet on this side, yet full of texture and that lovely rosiny quality that vintage pressings capture so well. (Sometimes capture so well. Side two here has a slightly smeary quality that hurts it in that area.) (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Symphonies 4-5-6 / Mravinsky (4 LPs) – Reviewed in 2009

More Tchaikovsky

More Symphonies 4-5-6 / Mravinsky

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Sonic Grade: C  

This is a Deutsche Grammophon 4 LP Box Set. I used to really like the sound of this set back in the day, as you will see from the rave review below from 2009.

It’s been a while since I found the sound to be worthy of a Hot Stamper shootout, and now, in 2017, having just played some of the discs against some very good German and British reissues, I now realize the records in the set are clearly made from dub tapes. They badly lack presence, space, transparency and clarity, all hallmarks of sub-generation master tapes.  (more…)

Holst, Steinberg and The Planets – A Shootout Years in the Making

More of the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

More Steinberg and The Planets

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In July of 2005 we noted on the site that Hot Stampers for this album were discovered, and interested parties should watch the site for killer copies in the coming months. Obviously we didn’t know at the time that the number of coming months would be THIRTY TWO. That’s how long it would be before we could offer our loyal customers truly Hot Stampers, but hey, good things come to those who wait, right?

We had to wait for two things: the revolutionary cleaning techniques that we developed during that time (the heart of which is our $7000 record cleaning machine) which allowed us to get these records to sound better and play quieter, and, secondly, better equipment. (Check out our Revolutionary Changes in Audio commentary for the latest in changes to the stereo.) (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto #1 / Richter / Karajan – Another Audio Myth Explodes

More Tchaikovsky

More Piano Concerto #1 / Richter / Karajan

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The original Large Tulip early pressings are the best on this record, right?

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth, as explained in the commentary for our recent Hot Stamper 2-pack. That pair of pressings was all the proof we required to back up our contention that either label can be the best on this classic DG recording. Original is better? Again, not so much. Original can be better fits more with our experience. 

To pull off this kind of Mind Boggling sound from start to finish we combined an amazing side one on the Large Tulips label with an amazing side two on the Small Tulips label. And what a finish — side two earned a grade of A+++, being a full step above even our hottest other side two, and we played a lot of copies, more than a dozen in fact. (more…)

Prokofiev’s Lt. Kije at 45 RPM – An Audiophile Pressing to Shame Them All

More Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Prokofiev / Lt. Kije / Abbado

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

This Japanese 45 RPM remastering of our favorite recording of Prokofiev’s wonderful Lt. Kije Suite has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND. For starters, there are very few records with dynamics comparable to these. Since this is my favorite performance of all time, I can’t recommend the record any more highly. 

Most of what’s “bad” about a DG recording from 1978 is ameliorated with this pressing. The bass drum (drums?) here must be heard to be believed. We know of no Golden Age recording with as believable a presentation of the instrument as this.

The drum is clearly and precisely located at the back of the stage; even better, it’s as huge and powerful and room-filling as it would have been had you attended the session yourself. That’s our idea of hi-fidelity here at Better Records. (more…)

Arthur Fiedler Conducts Our Favorite Night on Bald Mountain – for DG!

More Modest Mussorgsky

More Danse Infernale / Fiedler

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  • Our favorite performance of Night on Bald Mountain in Double Plus (A++) sound is back, guaranteed to blow your mind (and maybe a woofer or two)
  • Side one also boasts an excellent Danse Macabre, with a powerful finish that may remind you of the thrill of live orchestral music
  • Side two of this amazing sleeper LP contains a wonderfully exciting Sorcerer’s Apprentice, also in very good sound
  • Watch your levels on this record – it’s dramatically more DYNAMIC than most Golden Age recordings

If you like Orchestral Spectaculars, have we got the record for you!

This pressing clearly has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND — not in every way, but in some important ways. The ENERGY of both the sound and the performances is truly awesome. Fiedler brings this music to LIFE. (more…)

Another Audio Myth Exploded – Large Tulips, Small Tulips – What Do Tulips Have to Do with Anything?

Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto #1 / Richter / Karajan
 dglabel

The original Large Tulip early pressings are the best on this record, right?

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Nope. It’s just another Record Myth, as explained in the commentary for our recent Hot Stamper 2-pack. That pair of pressings was all the proof we required to back up our contention that either label can be the best on this classic DG recording. Original is better? Again, not so much. Original can be better fits more with our experience.

To pull off this kind of Mind Boggling sound from start to finish we combined an amazing side one on the Large Tulips label with an amazing side two on the Small Tulips label. And what a finish — side two earned a grade of A+++, being a full step above even our hottest other side two, and we played a lot of copies, more than a dozen in fact. (more…)