Older Reviews – Classical / Orchestral

Tchaikovsky / Nutcracker Suite / Karajan – Reviewed in 2005

The Music of Tchaikovsky Available Now

Album Reviews of the Music of Tchaikovsky

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This import pressing has some astonishing qualities, qualities we are not used to hearing on vintage Golden Age recordings such as this (or or any other recordings, truth be told). This 1964 release — our pressing is the whiteback reissue, which we tend to prefer — has 3-D-like clarity and spaciousness that we could hardly believe. The stage is DEEP and you can hear all the way to the back of it. The width of the stage is dramatically wider than practically any record I can remember playing in the last year or two. I felt as though my listening room got bigger when playing this record.

And the dynamics are explosive. This pressing can really get LOUD when it wants to.

In some respects it’s hard to beat. But not, alas, hard to fault.

It lacks weight down low, whomp as we like to call it.

The details: (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

The Music of Tchaikovsky Available Now

More Records that Sound Better on the Right Reissue

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This remastered Victrola version of the original Living Stereo pressing (LSC 1901) is guaranteed to KILL any and all originals — Shaded Dogs, White Dogs, Red Seals — you name it, this pressing will beat the pants off of it, guaranteed. I’ve played many copies of the earlier RCAs and I have surely never heard one sound like this, with so much LIFE and CLARITY. Where is all the old cutter head distortion, congestion and frequency limiting? It’s sure not here!

Side one is Super Hot (A++) and side two is EVEN BETTER, earning our coveted Top Grade of A Triple Plus! You may have noticed that not many vintage RCA recordings make it to the site with stellar grades such as these, so that makes this a very special pressing indeed. (more…)

Thomson / The River & The Plow That Broke The Plains

TAS List Records Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for TAS Super Disc Recordings

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Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides! This later label Vanguard pressing has CLARITY and TRANSPARENCY that I would be very surprised to hear on the original Stereolab LP. There is practically no smear to the sound of this side one, which means the texture of the strings and the bite of the brass are here for all to savor. Old school tube mastering, the kind that would have been used to make the originals, rarely manages to avoid this kind of sound.

Of course Tubey Magic and smear go hand in hand, so this more modern mastering can’t give you all the Tubey Magic of the originals either. These are trade-offs to be sure. But this pressing sounds RIGHT in a way that not many original classical recordings from 1960 ever do.

This record sounds, for lack of a better word, ACCURATE. The instruments in this orchestra sound correct to my ear. I like Tubey Magic as much as the next guy, but when everything else is so good, as it is here, I can live without it. I don’t need it on every record. It’s a nice coloration, but it IS a coloration let’s not forget.

Side One

A++ Super Hot sound! Not all the richness one would hope for, but it does sound rich in its own way. So clear and so 3-D, this is what modern mastering (from the ’70s, not the crappy mastering of the last twenty plus years) can do amazingly well. It’s so TRANSPARENT you can hear all the way to the back of the hall, with layers of depth clearly delineated.

Side Two

A++, as good but different (of course). Big bass, bigger than the bass on side one. Very dynamic too. The horns are a bit shrill at the start but they calm down soon enough. Overall very similar tonality and spaciousness. A great record! (more…)

Ravel / Concerto in G – Munch/ Boston Symphony

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

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DEMO QUALITY SOUND!

Boy does this record ever sound good! It’s alive. Dynamic and immediate, like a good Mercury but with plenty of ambience and sweet strings — the best of both worlds.

This is one of the great RCAs. Classic Records did a passable job with this title, which is about the best they ever do. It’s a far cry from the sound heard here but for those of you who do not want to spend the money, or insist on quiet surfaces, check that one out.

The performance is excellent as well, and of course the Ravel Concerto is a piece of music that belongs in any serious collection. (more…)

Strauss / Waltzes / Reiner

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Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Disc LPs, but it’s the rare copy that deserves such an exclusive ranking. This copy delivers the sonic goods on side one with Super Hot Stamper sound.

Side two is not quite up to the standards set by side one. It’s darker, not as open and lacks some of the richness of the first side. That said, it’s still better than the average copy we’ve played and worlds better than any reissue.

Both sides have some deep powerful bass and are fairly dynamic.

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Festival of Russian Music / Reiner – Reviewed in 2008

Living Stereo Titles Available Now

200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

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Excellent sound, more mid-hall than some other RCAs. This is the Victrola version of the Shaded Dog of Festival. Some of these pieces are amazing in Reiner’s hands, Marche Slave, for example. Russlan and Ludmilla is also superb here. The sound is quite dynamic and powerful with very little distortion or noticeable compression. Reiner is excellent on music like this.

It should go without saying that this pressing kills the awful Classic Records pressing.

Mendelssohn / Symphony No. 4 / Ansermet

More Mendelssohn

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Demo quality. This record has the same kind of amazing sound as the Chabrier disc on London, but it’s much more rare. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better Mendelssohn 4th.

It even beats the excellent Solti on Blueback, which of course is much more common. Hard to imagine a better sounding record than this and the music is wonderful as well.

Strauss et al. / Vienna Holiday / Knappertsbusch

More Johann Strauss

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This is a super rare and quiet early UK Decca LP (SXL 2016) with two very good sounding sides! Side one is spacious and transparent but could use a bit more extension on the top and bottom, rating an A+. Side two is similar sounding, but has some added fullness that nets it an A+ to A++ grade. Both sides play about Mint Minus with no inner groove distortion and only very light surface noise.

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Schumann / Concerto in A Minor / Reiner

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Side two of this RCA Shaded Dog original pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound. It’s rich and smooth, yet it captures the texture and harmonics of the strings beautifully. It’s transparent, high-rez, as well as being open, all signs that the cutting was done on very high quality equipment, properly eq’d and not bandwidth limited or overly compressed.

Side one is not as full as side two; it’s undistorted when loud, which is nice, but does not have all the magic that side two will show you. If you have a nice side one of the album and need a side two to complement it, this is the record for you. Or if you want a record that gets the work mostly right, this might just be the ticket. Finding two good sides for this album is probably not in the cards for us; clean copies are just too rare and expensive these days.

Strauss / Horn Concertos – Tuckwell / Kertesz – A Top Copy from 2009

More vintage Decca/London recordings currently available

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This is a fairly quiet 1967 Decca British LP with lovely sound. It’s tonally Right On The Money. The strings have lovely texture. The horn has a nice smooth quality, just like the real thing.

A solid record, guaranteed to beat the pants off the Speakers Corner 180 gram pressing, which is not a bad record, just not remotely as good as this one.

FURTHER READING

The sonic signature of the modern Heavy Vinyl Classical Reissue in Four Words: Diffuse, Washed Out, Veiled, and Vague