Top Artists – Jascha Heifetz

RCA’s Chamber Recordings

beethseren_LSC2550The sound is RICH and TRANSPARENT, and unlike a lot of RCA’s chamber recordings and this very side one, not dry. The tonality is Right On The Money. The performers are present and the transients of their instruments are not in the least bit smeared, vintage tubes or no vintage tubes in the recording chain.

Classical Shootouts

RCA is justly famous for its chamber recordings, which tend to be somewhat rare for some reason. Let’s be honest: we did not conduct this shootout with a dozen copies of the album. (It would take us at least twenty-five years to find that many clean pressings.)

What we had were quite a few other Heifetz RCA chamber recordings, as well as some favorites by the Quartetto Italiano and I Musici that we are very fond of and know well.

After twenty six years in business selling vintage vinyl, by now we’ve played scores if not hundreds of good violin recordings. We have no problem recognizing good violin sound (as well as correct violin tone, not exactly the same thing) when we hear it. In the past our top Hot Stamper classical pressings would go directly to our best customers, customers who want classical recordings that actually sound good. not just the kind of Golden Age Recordings that are supposed to. Now that we are able to do classical shootouts on a regular basis, we hope to have enough superb sounding classical recordings for all of our audiophile customers.
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Glazounov & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz / Hendl – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Glazounov & Mozart

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

Hot Stamper sound on side one of this Shaded Dog pressing, and even better sound on side two for these two important works of the basic repertoire.  

The presentation of the violin on side one is present, one could even say immediate. It’s not quite as tubey magical as the better Heifetz pressings I have played, so we are keeping the grade at a fairly modest A+. Those with “tubier” systems may find it complements your sound better than it does mine.

Side two earned a grade of A+ to A++. It’s richer and smoother, sweeter too. It can get a little smeared at times and also can get hard in the upper mids on some passages. Still, overall the sound is excellent. (more…)

Bruch – Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Max Bruch 

More Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz 

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

Both sides of this Shaded Dog pressing of Heifetz and the New Symphony Orchestra of London have sound that earned the quite respectable sonic grades of A+ to A++.

Side one is tonally correct and lively, but suffers from a bit of the all-too-common tube smear, no doubt from the mastering chains and record presses that were in use at the time. (Most modern mastering chains and record presses are, to our ears, even worse, so this is not to denigrate the engineers at RCA in any way. It’s simply to say that with Tubey Magic you often get tubey smear.) (more…)

Mendelssohn & Prokofiev / Concertos / Heifetz / Munch – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

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

This BETTER than Super Hot Stamper (A++ to A+++) White Dog pressing has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side one for the Mendelssohn concerto! It really has the Breath of Life. On top of that it’s quiet, playing mostly Mint Minus, something that we don’t run into too often with fifty year old Living Stereo pressings! Now I see why Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List. Most copies do not sound remotely as good as this one on side one. (Side two is a step down; it would almost have to be.)  

And the performance by the Boston Symphony under Munch is the best we’ve ever heard. The orchestra is on fire with passion for this music. (more…)

Beethoven / Violin Concerto / Heifetz

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

More Beethoven / Violin Concerto / Heifetz 

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

This White Dog Living Stereo pressing has SUPERB sound on side one. It’s alive and immediate in a way that the Shaded Dogs almost never are. Listen to the violin! Again, the Classic pressing of this recording does not present the listener with the sound of a real, wood instrument bowed by horsehair in physical space. This copy does.

The White Dog pressing we are offering here is not as rich as the better Shaded Dog pressings we played in our shootout but in some ways the brighter, more forward presentation actually works to its advantage.

It becomes a real showpiece for Heifetz’s mastery of the violin, so clear and immediate is the sound.

The Living Stereo/ Boston Symphony string tone is excellent, although it can be a little dry in spots and occasionally can become edgy in the loudest sections. (more…)

Bruch / Scottish Fantasy / Heifetz

More of the music of Max Bruch 

More Scottish Fantasy / Heifetz 

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

WHITE HOT Stamper sound for the Bruch side of this original RCA Shaded Dog, one of the best Heifetz concerto titles of all time. (I’m trying to think of a Heifetz title that sounds better and coming up blank.)

This was our shootout winner on side two, beating all comers, earning our highest grade, the full Three Pluses (our blue ribbon, gold medal, and best in show all wrapped into one). The sound is nothing short of DEMO DISC QUALITY.

If you want to demonstrate the magic of Living Stereo recordings, jump right to the second movement of the Bruch. The sonority of the massed strings is to die for. When Heifetz enters, the immediacy of his violin further adds to the transcendental quality of the experience. Sonically and musically it doesn’t get much better than this, on Living Stereo or anywhere else. (more…)

Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven 

More Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky 

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

This Red Seal pressing of the famous 1961 recording (LSC 2563) has SUBLIME White Hot Stamper sound for one of the works contained herein, the Schubert. It’s so rich and sweet you may have a hard time believing it’s on a Red Seal LP. The originals we’ve played over the years sure never sounded like this! Perhaps it’s the thin vinyl that contributed to the shockingly good sound. Maybe, just maybe, RCA was right to start pressing thinner records in the ’70s. If they can sound this good, we should all be for it.

So often when we do these shootouts involving original pressings up against their reissue counterparts, it’s the reissues that sound rich, warm and tubey, and the originals that sound dry and boxy. If you haven’t noticed that in your own critical listening, play this record against any shaded dogs that you own and see which one is more Tubey Magical.

If you have your VTA set right, you might be shocked to find it’s this one. Don’t get us wrong; lots of these later RCA pressings are awful: thin, often with no top end at all. Flat transfers perhaps? Who is to say? (more…)

Beethoven / Haydn / The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts

More Beethoven

More Haydn

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

This is a lovely sounding Red Seal pressing of cello and violin, with smooth, natural, tonally correct sound and correctly sized instruments, something you don’t hear often on recordings with Heifetz. They tend to have huge violins and small orchestras. In these chamber works perhaps the engineers had an easier time of getting it right. The sound is transparent, spacious and three-dimensional in the best Living Stereo tradition.

If you love the sound of the violin and cello, played by virtuosos of the highest order, this is the record for you. (more…)

Beethoven / ’Kreutzer’ Sonata – Putting Your System to the (Violin and Piano) Test

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven

More ’Kreutzer’ Sonata

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating this kind of recording.

Do you want a recording that is going to put your system to the test? Well this is that record! That violin is REAL. As you compare equipment or tweak your system, you will hear the sound of that violin change and it should be obvious when it gets better and when it gets worse.  (more…)

Vintage Violin Recordings – What to Listen For

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

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This copy had practically no smear on either the violin or the orchestra. Try to find a violin concerto record with no smear. We often say that Shaded Dogs, being vintage All Tube recordings, tend to have tube smear. But what about the ’70s Transistor Mastered Red Label pressings – where does their smear come from?

Let’s face it: records from every era more often than not have some smear and we can never really know what accounts for it. The key thing is to be able to recognize it for what it is. (We find modern records, especially those pressed at RTI, to be quite smeary as a rule. They also tend to be congested, blurry, thick, veiled, and ambience-challenged. For some reason most audiophiles — and the reviewers who write for them — rarely seem to notice these shortcomings.) (more…)