Older Reviews – Classical

Rozsa / Music From the Film Ben Hur – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This TAS List Super Hot Stamper pressing of one of the greatest and most famous Orchestral Blockbuster Soundtracks ever recorded more than lives up to our expectations for Decca Phase 4. This is Phase 4 done RIGHT.

As with all the best Herrmann releases, the huge size and scope you hear is the sound of orchestral music recorded in glorious ANALOG!

The sound is so clear, spacious and three-dimensional that you will feel as if your speakers have disappeared before your very eyes.

The layering of depth is really something to hear on this copy, with choirs of brass instruments located precisely in space, some further back, some off to the side of the soundstage. And what a soundstage it is, so wide and deep. Transparency – a quality you find on both sides of this copy — is what makes this all sound so REAL.

Opacity Vs. Transparency

Note that we have been especially anti-heavy vinyl in our recent commentaries for their consistently opaque character, the opposite of what is necessary in order to hear into the music, deep into the soundstage, to see and hear ALL the instruments, even the ones at the back. Try that with any Classic Record or Speakers Corner pressing. It’s records like this that show you precisely what you have been missing all these years if you have been collecting and playing releases from those labels and the others like them. (more…)

Rachmaninoff / Concerto #1 For Piano & Orchestra / Katin / Boult

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CS 6055. Demo quality. Incredible sound. The piano is heard surrounded by the hall. This is much more natural than the usual spotlight. Ferocious brass. I love it. Blueback pressing.

Khachaturian Conducts Spartacus

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Probably more than ten years ago we had written

The famous TAS list recording. The Decca 180 gram version is very good, but those of you who appreciate the qualities of the original mastering will want to have this one. 

We played three or four copies of the album recently and none of them quite worked for us.  The sound was a bit opaque, and not as tubey as we would have liked.

A good record, not a great one, and for that reason really not worth cleaning up and doing a shootout for.  The best copy would not pay for the labor to find it.

Rossini-Respighi / La Boutique Fantasque / Fiedler – Reviewed in 2008

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

DEMO QUALITY. It’s hard to find a better record with more Tubey Magical hear-all-the-way-to-the-back-of-the-hall sound than this, at least on side one.  

Fiedler has a way with the Ibert piece here like nobody’s business; the performance is definitive, although the sound is not as good as La Boutique Fantasque, which is nothing short of amazing. The Kay piece sounds excellent here and is beautifully performed. Fiedler is hard to beat on music like this.

Mozart / Piano Concerto No. 27 / Backhaus / Bohm

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Lovely music. Superb sound, one of the rarest of the London records. I haven’t seen one of these in close to twenty years. 

Performed with The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Karl Bohm, this record also features the Piano Sonata in A-major.

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Boston Pops / Fiedler – Reviewed in 2008

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

12s Hot stampers. The best sounding copy I’ve ever heard.

Jim Mitchell is famous for pointing out that many of the RCA’s that were re-recorded a few years later are inferior to their earlier counterparts. This record is no exception. LSC 1817 is an amazing record. This record is merely good, with depth, soundstaging, nice string tone, etc., but not the kind of sonic fireworks to be found on the 1954 2-track recording that RCA first did of this work.

A very good Sabre Dance as a bonus, check it out! It’s the lead off track on Destination Stereo (LSC 2307) for good reason: it sounds great. (more…)

Sibelius/ The Popular Sibelius – Berglund – Reviewed in 2005

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This Minty looking EMI Promenade Series LP is a real SLEEPER!

BIG, EXCITING SOUND! With a spirited performance to match from Berglund, a man well known for his Sibelius work. This is not one of those vague, washed out EMIs

This record is ALIVE. Recorded by Stuart Eltham in 1972, you will be hard pressed to find more immediacy in an EMI. The sound may even be a bit over the top on some selections — whether it is or not will probably depend on your tastes and playback system. But one listen to the third track on side one should convince you that you’re in the presence of a superb recording.

This record includes Finlandia, Valse Triste, Karelia – Intermezzo, The Swan Of Tuonela, Lemminkaines’s Return, King Christian II – Elegy, Musette & Nocturne.

Shostakovich – Symphonies No. 6 & 11 – Berglund

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SLS 5177 EMI Large Dog Label LP with powerful bass — a very dynamic copy! TAS List of course. The strings are immediate, perhaps a little hot, but that’s Shostakovich for you. It’s probably in the scoring.