Labels We Love – RCA Living Stereo

RCA’s Chamber Recordings

beethseren_LSC2550The sound is RICH and TRANSPARENT, and unlike a lot of RCA’s chamber recordings and this very side one, not dry. The tonality is Right On The Money. The performers are present and the transients of their instruments are not in the least bit smeared, vintage tubes or no vintage tubes in the recording chain.

Classical Shootouts

RCA is justly famous for its chamber recordings, which tend to be somewhat rare for some reason. Let’s be honest: we did not conduct this shootout with a dozen copies of the album. (It would take us at least twenty-five years to find that many clean pressings.)

What we had were quite a few other Heifetz RCA chamber recordings, as well as some favorites by the Quartetto Italiano and I Musici that we are very fond of and know well.

After twenty six years in business selling vintage vinyl, by now we’ve played scores if not hundreds of good violin recordings. We have no problem recognizing good violin sound (as well as correct violin tone, not exactly the same thing) when we hear it. In the past our top Hot Stamper classical pressings would go directly to our best customers, customers who want classical recordings that actually sound good. not just the kind of Golden Age Recordings that are supposed to. Now that we are able to do classical shootouts on a regular basis, we hope to have enough superb sounding classical recordings for all of our audiophile customers.
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Bruch & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Laredo – Mitchell – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More of the music of Max Bruch 

More Violin Concertos / Laredo – Mitchell 

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

Superb sound. The violin is wonderful on both sides. The Mozart is absolutely gorgeous; the best I’ve ever heard it.

The orchestra on the Bruch side gets a little congested in the louder passages, which is typical for records of this era.

Laredo plays these pieces beautifully. The Bruch is an especially romantic work and his violin sings sweetly and with deep emotion throughout. The Mozart is more spritely and he plays it with the light touch it requires. You will have a hard time finding a better violin concerto record. This ranks with the best of them.

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…)

Glazounov & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz / Hendl – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Glazounov & Mozart

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

Hot Stamper sound on side one of this Shaded Dog pressing, and even better sound on side two for these two important works of the basic repertoire.  

The presentation of the violin on side one is present, one could even say immediate. It’s not quite as tubey magical as the better Heifetz pressings I have played, so we are keeping the grade at a fairly modest A+. Those with “tubier” systems may find it complements your sound better than it does mine.

Side two earned a grade of A+ to A++. It’s richer and smoother, sweeter too. It can get a little smeared at times and also can get hard in the upper mids on some passages. Still, overall the sound is excellent. (more…)

Dvorak/ Symphony No. 7 / Monteux/ LSO – Reviewed in 2008

More Antonin Dvorak

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

This fairly quiet (M-) Plum Label Victrola has LOVELY, SPACIOUS, tonally correct sound. Monteux and LSO are wonderful here, so this one gets a top recommendation from Better Records. 

Copland / Billy the Kid / Morton Gould – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Aaron Copland (1900-1990) 

More Billy the Kid / Morton Gould 

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

Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides, with side one so energetic and exciting it would easily qualify as a Demo Disc. This title is almost impossible to find in anything but beat up condition. Records like these got played over and over and few survived the ten grams of stylus pressure and mis-aligned cartridges of the day.   (more…)

Bruch – Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Max Bruch 

More Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz 

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

Both sides of this Shaded Dog pressing of Heifetz and the New Symphony Orchestra of London have sound that earned the quite respectable sonic grades of A+ to A++.

Side one is tonally correct and lively, but suffers from a bit of the all-too-common tube smear, no doubt from the mastering chains and record presses that were in use at the time. (Most modern mastering chains and record presses are, to our ears, even worse, so this is not to denigrate the engineers at RCA in any way. It’s simply to say that with Tubey Magic you often get tubey smear.) (more…)

Xavier Cugat – Chile Con Cugie

More Xavier Cugat

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

Amazing nearly White Hot stamper sound on side two. It’s so big and fun, jumping with energy in a huge space. 1959 Living Stereo three-dimensionality from Webster Hall. Lots of exotica percussion and rhythm make for fun stereo listening.  (more…)

Mendelssohn & Prokofiev / Concertos / Heifetz / Munch – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

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

This BETTER than Super Hot Stamper (A++ to A+++) White Dog pressing has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side one for the Mendelssohn concerto! It really has the Breath of Life. On top of that it’s quiet, playing mostly Mint Minus, something that we don’t run into too often with fifty year old Living Stereo pressings! Now I see why Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List. Most copies do not sound remotely as good as this one on side one. (Side two is a step down; it would almost have to be.)  

And the performance by the Boston Symphony under Munch is the best we’ve ever heard. The orchestra is on fire with passion for this music. (more…)

Britten – Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – Ozawa – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More of the music of Britten 

More Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – Ozawa 

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

The sound of this White Hot Stamper side two is SUPER TRANSPARENT — you can hear all the way to the back of the hall and then some! There’s so much ambience on this pressing it forced us to reevaluate the other copies in light of the sound we were discovering here.

As if that wasn’t enought, it had energy and immediacy we simply did not expect to hear. The sound is big and bold during the loud passages, but sweet and delicate when, for example, the woodwinds are spotlighted in the composition.  (more…)