Labels With Shortcomings – Speakers Corner – Classical

Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon – Speakers Corner – Reviewed in the ’90s

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Sonic Grade: B?

We were impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing when it came out back in the day. We’ve come to learn that it is such an exceptional recording that even their second rate remastering of it was still capable of producing a very good sounding record.

One of the ways you can tell how great a recording this is is simply this: as soon as the needle hits the groove you are immediately involved in the music, listening to each of the lines created by the five preternaturally gifted players, all the while marveling at Schubert’s compositional skills.

That’s what a good record is supposed to do. That’s supposedly why we’ve dumped so much money into all this fancy equipment. Because if you have records like this, and the equipment (fancy or otherwise) to play them, you will find yourself being transported to the musical space of the performance in a way that other recordings (read: Heavy Vinyl) simply will not allow you to be. (more…)

Stravinsky – Le Sacre du Printemps – Solti – Speakers Corner Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca.

Years ago we wrote the following: “Wow! What a performance! What dynamic full bodied sound! To be fair, I pulled out my original London, one of those awful mid-’70s English pressings that are never quiet, and yes, some of the ambience on the original is missing here on the new version, but everything else seems right: dynamics, tonality, the frequency extremes (including some pretty awesome deep bass).”

Can’t be sure we would still feel that way but I’m guessing this is a good record if you can pick one up at a cheap price. 

If you have a quiet original, great, consider yourself lucky. As few of you have any copy at all, I recommend this one. The alternative is to miss Solti’s energetic performance and the precision of the Chicago Symphony, one of the few orchestras capable of making sense out of this complex and infuriating work. (At least it used to infuriate audiences. Now our modern ears can take a difficult work like this and appreciate the complex rhythms and atonality as the expression of a truly original mind.

This is not music to play during dinner. This is music to engage the mind fully. It belongs in any collection. Yours in fact. Unless you have small speakers, in which case you would be wasting your money, as small speakers cannot begin to reproduce the power of this work in the hands of Solti and the CSO.

Borodin / Symphonies 2 & 3 / Ansermet – Speakers Corner Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: C?

A decent Speakers Corner Decca.

The Speakers Corner heavy vinyl reissue of this title is not bad, but like all reissues it lacks the weight found on the originals. I remember it being a little flat and bright. I haven’t played it in years so I could easily be wrong. The glorious sound I hear on the best pressings is not the kind of thing I hear on 180 gram records by Speakers Corner, or anybody else for that matter. (more…)

Mahler / Symphony No. 1 / Solti – Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the ’90s)

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Sonic Grade: C+

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca. We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “C+” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. The right “real” pressing should be dramatically better sounding in every way. They almost always are. 

Tchaikovsky / The Nutcracker – Ansermet (Reviewed in the ’90s)

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

More music conducted by Ernst Ansermet (1883-1969)

The Nutcracker – Ansermet

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Sonic Grade: B?

Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90 when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

“Superb! New records just don’t sound any better! This is the complete Nutcracker Ballet as conducted by Ansermet for Decca, a record that sets a standard of performance and sound that is unlikely ever to be equaled, and almost certainly not to be surpassed.”

Chabrier / Espana – Argenta – A Speakers Corner Winner

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894) 

Espana – Argenta 

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Sonic Grade: B

This is a Speakers Corner Decca 180 gram LP reissue of the famous Argenta performance, a recording which can sound positively amazing on the right original London, but only about 2 out of 10 copies actually do. (And where in the world are you going to find 10 clean copies of a record that’s practically 50 years old?)

This pressing gets you most of the way there, on reasonably quiet vinyl, for a lot less money. (more…)

Mozart – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Munchinger – Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the ’90s)

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

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Munchinger

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

We were impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing of this album when it came out back in 1994. We wrote: “Probably the best sound and performance of the Eine Kleine available — highly recommended!  

We haven’t played a copy in years, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. (more…)

Stravinsky / The Firebird Suite / Ansermet – Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the ’90s)

More Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) 

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Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway. (more…)

Massenet – Le Cid Ballet & Meyerbeer – Les Patineurs – Speakers Corner Reviewed

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

Le Cid Ballet & Meyerbeer 

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Sonic Grade: B

Finally a version of Le Cid that we can enjoy! Superb sound with a performance to match! No more suffering through the hi-fi-ish Doug Sax/ Acoustic Sounds rebutchering of the Fremaux on Klavier.  

Audiophiles in droves bought into that one, apparently not noticing the overblown bass and spark-spark-sparkling top end. Thankfully we now have this Decca from Speakers Corner to demonstrate proper orchestral balance. (more…)

Mozart / Sinfonia Concertante / Oistrakh (Igor and David) – Speakers Corner Reviewed

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

Sinfonia Concertante / Oistrakh

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Sonic Grade: B

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca.

Years ago we wrote the following:

“One of the best of the Decca reissues! EXCELLENT SOUND for these pieces, written for violin, viola and orchestra.”

Can’t be sure we would still feel that way but I’m guessing this is a good record at the price.