Masterpieces of Orchestral Music

The Music of Leonard Bernstein – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2012

More of the music of Leonard Bernstein 

More Rogers 

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

This London Phase 4 British import has some of the most SPECTACULAR sound I have ever heard reproduced from disc. The sound is so BIG and BOLD that it handily puts to shame 95% or more of all the Golden Age Shaded Dogs, London Bluebacks, Mercury Living Presence’s, EMI’s and Decca’s we’ve ever played. If we had a Classical Top 100 list, this record would belong in a Top Ten taken from it, right near the top judging by what I heard when I played it.

Side two here is BEYOND White Hot, earning a sonic grade of A++++! I don’t know that any other copy has earned such a high grade for side two but this one sure did. It blew our minds. (more…)

Mahler / Symphony #1 / Haitink – Reviewed in 2006

More of the music of Gustav Mahler

Symphony #1 / Haitink

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

This IMMACULATE looking Philips Dutch Import LP is the best sounding version of this music I’ve ever heard and one of the all time great performances as well.

The Solti on 180g Decca is a good record. This is a great one. 

Grofe / Grand Canyon Suite / Bernstein

More of the music of Leonard Bernstein

More Grofe / Grand Canyon Suite / Bernstein

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

This Minty Columbia Grey label Stereo LP is one of the most amazing copies ever! You will be hard pressed to find a better sounding Grand Canyon suite. Bernstein’s Columbia recordings usually leave much to be desired. This is a notable exception. The normal Columbia shrillness is gone, replaced by sweet and liquid sound. I wish more of his records sounded like this one: I’d be picking them up left and right.

Grieg / Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad / LSO – Our Shootout Winner from 2005

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

More Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad / LSO

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

This is overall the best sounding pressing of the Fjeldstad / LSO we have ever played, with BETTER than Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides. For those of you who know your Londons, when you see the label on this LP you will no doubt be shocked: This is the last pressing in the world that one would expect to sound good. 

Of course we here at Better Records don’t give a sh*t about any such conventional wisdom / collector bias. We like audiophile quality sound and we don’t give a damn where we find it. Up against the competition this copy was superb in practically every way, excelling with orchestral size, weight and energy like virtually no other.

This is to be expected from a recording of its renown. What was not to be expected was the actual pressing that delivered those sonic qualities

We’ve loved the Blueback pressings in the past; this time not so much (too crude and opaque with jello for bass. (more…)

Grieg & Liszt / Piano Concertos / Rubinstein – Reviewed in 2011

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

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

The strings are RICH in the best Living Stereo tradition, but unlike so many classical pressings we play, the tubey magical string tone comes with virtually no tube smear. The textures and overtones are fully intact. This side may in fact be pretty much as good as it gets; we don’t have enough copies to know just how good the recording can be, but it can’t be too much better than this, because this side puts most Golden Age classical recordings to shame.

This side one earned a grade of A++ (or better).

Side two, which contains the third movement of the Grieg and the complete Liszt Piano Concerto no. 1, is not quite as rich as we would have liked. It’s cut lower than side one, so turn up the volume if you want it to come to life. It’s also not nearly as transparent. We grade it about A Plus — a step up over the average Shaded Dog but not the equal of this wonderful side one. (more…)

Khachaturian / Masquerade Suite / Kondrashin (LSC 2398)

More Khachaturian / Masquerade Suite

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A distinguished member of our Hall of Fame.

DEMO DISC SOUND for this TAS List Shaded Dog, with each side earning an A++ grade and playing relatively quietly! 

This is a BIG one folks, as most of you probably know already. It is not easy to find copies of this album with excellent sound and fairly quiet surfaces on both sides, and if you don’t believe me than I encourage you to try. The violin is so sweet and full of rosiny texture here. The whole string section is full of Living Stereo magic. The soundstage is wide and deep, the overall sound rich and warm. The midrange is nothing short of magical.

This is the kind of Golden Age recording that makes us audiophiles lose it. It’s one of the few legitimate reasons to take the TAS Super Disc List seriously in the first place. HP put records like this on the audiophile map and we owe him a debt of gratitude for having done so. Our musical lives are remarkably richer for it. (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…)

Grieg / Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

More Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad

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

One of the greatest records in the London catalog. As you may have read elsewhere on the site, the Londons to me have the best overall sound of any Golden Age label. As good as RCA and Mercury were, the Londons are more consistently sweet, tonally correct, dynamic and natural sounding. This is a perfect example.  

Amazing DEMO QUALITY SOUND. This is the best sounding copy of this record I have ever heard! Side two is astonishingly good: there’s nothing like it.

TAS List Thoughts on Albeniz – Where on The List Is This Record?

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

More TAS List Thoughts on Albeniz 

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Another nail in the coffin for HP’s TAS List. The fact that questionable entries such as Reiner’s Pines of Rome make the cut, and an amazing recording such as this doesn’t, should tell you everything you need to know concerning the value of such an incomplete list.

This is truly DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Records simply do not get any more spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet.

Our Hot Stamper Classical Pressings will be dramatically more transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings tend to fall short in in our experience.


Further Reading

Check out our new section: The Better Records Hall of Fame for Orchestral Music.

We have a section for all the Classical Records we have reviewed on the site to date.

We also have a section for all the Heavy Vinyl Classical Records we have reviewed on the site.

We have a number of Commentaries specifically addressing issues we’ve encountered when playing classical recordings.

Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet – What to Listen For

More Emmanual Chabrier

More Orchestral Music / Ansermet

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

On many copies the strings are dry, lacking Tubey Magic. This is decidedly not our sound, although it can easily be heard on many London pressings, the kind we’ve played by the hundreds over the years. If you have a rich sounding cartridge, perhaps with that little dip in the upper midrange that so many moving coils have these days, you will not notice this tonality issue nearly as much as we do. Our 17D3 is ruler flat and quite unforgiving in this regard.  

It makes our shootouts much easier, but brings out the flaws in all but the best pressings, exactly the job we require it to do. (more…)