Top Producers – Christopher Bishop

Holst – The Planets / Previn

More of the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Reviews and Commentaries for The Planets

  • With outstanding sonic grades on both sides, this early EMI pressing is guaranteed to be the best copy of Holst’s Magnum Opus, The Planets, you have ever played
  • Orchestral power like practically no other music on vinyl you may have heard, and Previn’s and the LSO’s performances are without peer in our estimation
  • These sides are rich, clear and dynamic, with weighty brass, and the kind of dynamic power that lefts the energy level right into space
  • A TAS List Super Disc, with a performance that’s as spectacular as the recording by the two Christophers
  • More of our Favorite Orchestral Performances with Top Quality sound

These sides have some of the best sound we have ever heard for the work, and that’s saying something considering the scores of recordings we have played of this famous and famously well-loved piece.

Fortunately for audiophiles who love The Planets but are disappointed by most performances, a group that includes us to be sure, the amazing sound found on this copy is coupled with a superb performance.

As you might imagine, on a big system this would make for a powerful listening experience, which is exactly the experience we ourselves had during our recent shootout. This copy actually deserves its place on the TAS List.

Both sides earned strong grades for their powerful energy and orchestral excitement, especially from the brass section, a subject we discuss at length below. (more…)

Mozart / Haydn – The Best Toy Symphony on Vinyl

More of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • An early EMI UK import pressing with STUNNING Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • The amazingly well recorded Toy Symphony on side two (which is fairly quiet by the way) is the real reason to own this record – you will be shocked at how realistic the toys sound, and how spaciously they are arrayed in the soundfield
  • These sides are clear, full-bodied and present, with plenty of live venue space around the players, the unmistakable sonic hallmark of the properly mastered, properly pressed vintage analog LP
  • The first pressing of the album I ever played, back in about 1995, was on the Japanese Soundphile Series, and it blew my mind at the time
  • Fast forward 25 plus years and now we know that, as good as the Japanese pressing can be, the real EMI can be even better.  That’s what shootouts are for, right?

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Haydn / Toy Symphony – We Was Wrong about a Japanese Soundphile Pressing

More of the music of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Reviews and Commentaries for the music of Joseph Haydn

More Classical ‘Sleeper” Recordings We’ve Discovered with Demo Disc Sound

Many years ago we got hold of a Japanese pressing of Marriner conducting The Toy Symphony and were blown away by the audiophile quality sound. When listing the record for sale, I raved:

“DEMO QUALITY SOUND! This is the best sounding Toy symphony you will ever hear!”

Now we know definitely that this is clearly not true!  We did the shootout in 2022 and found out that the best of the original EMI pressings are even better, a classic case of Live and Learn.

I believe I had at least one or two UK EMI pressings to play against the Japanese ones, but all the details of how I came to this conclusion — a proto-shootout, carried out long before I knew how to do a real one — are lost to the mists of time.

My stereo was dramatically less revealing back then, I had not learned how to clean records properly, and those two facts, combined with the underdeveloped listening skills that go with them, helped me to arrive at the wrong conclusion.

No, the Japanese pressing, specifically targeted to audiophiles, or “soundphiles” if you prefer, is not superior to a properly mastered and pressed UK LP.

If you have more than a handful of Japanese pressings in your collection, you can be sure that there is still plenty of room for improvement in your audio system. An advanced system — the kind we are using today in our shootouts, and didn’t exist back then — will quickly reveal the shortcomings of these formerly desirable pressings.

The Japanese pressings of this album are still good sounding, just not as good sounding as the real thing. For that reason we would not consider them Stone Age Audio records. Perhaps Bronze Age Audio records is a better way to think about them.

OUR REVIEW FROM MANY (10? 15?) YEARS AGO

I discovered how good this Japanese EMI Soundphile Series recording is almost 20 years ago [that would have been in the early 90s]. In that time I can say that I think I may have run across at most two other copies. This is a tough one to find!

But it’s worth the effort, because all the little toys that play along with the music just JUMP out of the speakers. The recording is so transparent and the toys are so well miked it’s like hearing this work for the first time, or live.

This album can easily become a favorite Demo Disc — it has that kind of “you-are-there” sound. This recording was made at Abbey Road in 1976 under the direction of the two Christophers. Perhaps that accounts for the quality of the recording.

The Eine Kleine on side two is also very nice, although I wouldn’t say it’s world class the way The Toy Symphony is.

FURTHER READING

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Tchaikovsky / Capriccio Italien – Boult – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

ASD 3093. EMI Postage Stamp Label LP with DEMO QUALITY SOUND and a performance to match! I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed these pieces more.

[This was written long ago, and in the meantime we have heard many amazing recordings of excellent performances of these works. Please visit the site to see them.]

The energy of the playing complements the dynamic, powerful and rich sound. A great EMI.

Recorded by the Two Christophers, this record features selections from Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov.