Older Reviews – Classical

Chopin and Delibes / Les Sylphides / Maag / PCO – Reviewed in 2005

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

A dynamic and excellent pressing. This record has lovely string tone. Lots of tubey magic. Not one of the rarest Londons, but certainly one of the most enjoyable.

[This is a very old commentary so take it for what it’s worth.]

Paganini – Kreisler / Concerto In One Movement / Campoli – Reviewed in 2019 and 2008

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  • This exceptionally rare early London pressing features Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER and includes a wonderful performance of the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3
  • This is a spectacular recording – it’s big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic, and is guaranteed to put to shame any Heavy Vinyl pressing of orchestral music you own
  • Campoli brings his warmth, feeling, and technical precision to these classical masterpieces
  • The Decca engineers captured the correct amount of detail in the bowing and fingering – it’s not overdone as it is in so many records that many audiophiles prefer, with the mics much too close to the strings

This is a WONDERFUL sounding violin concerto recording. It has TUBEY MAGIC as well as MUSIC to die for. What”s most interesting about the sound is how well the violin is integrated into the orchestra. On most RCAs, just to pick one golden age label to use as an example, the violin is typically hugely oversized and placed far in front of the orchestra. Not so here. The violin is of a whole with the orchestra, which makes for a much more natural and relaxed presentation. (more…)

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Dorati – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This lovely Mercury Golden Import LP not only has Super Hot Stamper sound on side one, which is where Gaite Parisienne can be found, but it also boasts one of the greatest performances of the piece ever recorded. 

Dorati is surely The Man when it comes to energy, drive and dynamic excitement with this venerable warhorse. He and his Minneapolis Symphony play the hell out of this boisterous music, and luckily for us audiophiles, the Mercury engineers give us Demonstration Quality Sound to go with it.

The original Mercury release of this record (90016) is a shrill piece of trash, as is the Mercury Wing pressing. So many of the early Mercurys were poorly mastered it seems. We audiophiles must wait for reissues (either by Mercury or in this case by Philips once they had bought Mercury) to show us how good the sound of a particular recording might actually be. (Of course what you really need is the right copy to know ultimately how good the recording can be, and to find it you might have to clean and play ten LPs, or more. That’s where we come in.) (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini / Reiner – Reviewed in 2005

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

1S/ 1S Shaded Dog with fairly good sound. As is usual with this album, and most Rubinstein records, the piano lacks weight compared to the best Golden Age recordings. 

Stravinsky / Song of the Nightingale / Ansermet – Reviewed in 2007

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

“Song of the Nightingale” is far more enjoyable in Ansermet’s hands than in Reiner’s or Dorati’s. The sound is significantly better on this pressing than on the Stereo Treasury, the RCA, and the Mercury versions. Once past the obvious saturation that opens this recording, the sound is perfection! The percussion leaps off of this LP like it does with a good Direct To Disc recording. The strength of this LP is “Song of the Nightingale”.

The “Pulcinella Suite”, also featured on this record, never sounds as good as “Song of the Nightingale”. But what does?

Paganini & Wieniawski / Concerto No.1 & Con. No. 2 – Rabin – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

WONDERFUL MUSIC AND SOUND ON SIDE ONE, plus quiet vinyl! This copy gives you precisely the right balance of clarity and sweetness we were looking for in the sound of the violin. Beyond that, the orchestra also sounds amazing here — so RICH and FULL-BODIED. We found the sound of this side one Hard To Fault and I bet you will too. In fact, I guarantee it — or your money back! This record puts most of the TAS Super Discs to shame, and it’s on a budget reissue label. Hey Harry, how about them apples!? 

Side two is decent but a bit too dark. The best music is on side one, so it’s not a huge loss. It’ll also show you just how exceptional this side one is! (more…)

Bizet / Carmen / Gould – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875) 

More Carmen / Gould 

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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND, if what you’re demonstrating is the three dimensional quality of Living Stereo recordings. Amazing depth and width can be heard on this record. And the music is sublime.

I confess I somewhat misjudged this title. Yes, the opening is compressed, which led me to think that the entire record was compressed, but that’s not true. In some ways it’s quite dynamic. The quiet portions are very quiet; in a couple of places there are just horns playing off in the deep distance, followed by some flutes, and they sound very natural, just as you would hear them in a concert hall. (more…)

Adam / Giselle / Karajan – Reviewed in 2010

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

This Dutch Import is the best sounding copy I have ever heard. It is dead silent and rich!

Big spacious hall sound. Lovely mid-hall perspective. Very smooth and sweet. You can listen to music like this for hours and never get tired — the opposite of your typical Classic Records pressing (or any other remastered Heavy Vinyl LP you care to name).

Rimsky-Korsakov / Scheherazade / Dorati – Reviewed in 2006

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One of the most dynamic Scheherazade”s on record. The brass really blasts through in this recording. 

Of course the question is how does this recording stack up to the famous Reiner. Well, I’ll tell you.

The Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra is not in the same league with the CSO, that’s well known. Dorati may be every bit as talented as Reiner, but he doesn’t have the players at his disposal capable of pulling off demanding material such as this.

But the orchestra acquits itself well here. The first violinist is quite good. That’s not the problem. What lets the side down is the Mercury recording team, who fail to adequately present the weight of the orchestra in the lower midrange and below. One thing I noticed recently when playing an original LSC 2446 was how rich and powerful the sound was in the lower strings and in the brass relative to later pressings of the same title and other recordings of the work. That opening movement of Scheherazade needs power down there and the Mercury simply doesn’t have enough of that power to qualify it as one of the top sounding Mercs. (more…)

Mahler / Das Lied Von Der Erde / Solti / CSO – Reviewed in 2006

More of the music of Gustav Mahler

Das Lied Von Der Erde / Solti / CSO

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

This Minty Decca pressing from 1972 sounds WONDERFUL — another Kenneth Wilkinson/ Gordon Parry triumph. 

This recording is part of the Solti Decca Silver Jubilee, celebrating the 25th year of Solti’s collaboration with Decca.

(He started in 1947!) The Beethoven 9th on the TAS List, one of the all time great Beethoven recordings, is also part of that series. Judging by those two records, it appears that Decca still had their act together in 1972, long after other labels were producing garbage.