Top Studios and Concert Halls – Kingsway Hall

Mendelssohn and Bruch / Violin Concertos / Ricci / Gamba

xxxxx

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

  • With two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard Mendelssohn Violin Concerto sound remotely as good as it does here, and the Bruch Violin Concerto on the second side is every bit as good
  • With sonic grades like these, you can be sure this pressing will beat all comers for sound, including the performances by Heifetz, Rybar, and others we’ve been enamored with in the past
  • The violin is so sweet and present, so rich, natural and real, you will forget you’re listening to a record at all
  • The glorious sound of these truly great 1958 All Tube “Decca Tree” recordings from Kingsway Hall is faithfully captured in all its beauty on this very disc

This is one of the ALL TIME GREAT violin concerto records. In Ruggiero Ricci’s hands both works are nothing short of magical. If you want to know why people drool over Golden Age recordings, listen to the violin. Careful, when you hear it you may find yourself drooling too.

The staging of the orchestra and violin is exactly the way we want to hear it in our heads. Whether it would really sound this way in a concert hall is impossible to say — concert halls all sound different — but the skill and the emotion of the playing is communicated beautifully on this LP. This is a sweetheart of a record, full of the Tubey Magic for which London recordings are justly famous.

As we noted above, engineering took place in the legendary Kingsway Hall. There is a richness to the sound of the strings that is exceptional, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least. (more…)

Schubert / Symphony No. 9 “The Great” / Krips / LSO – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

xxxxx
xxxxx
xxxxx

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

Krips’ 1958 recording for Decca (from Kingsway Hall, with the legendary Kenneth Wilkinson behind the board) is here brought to life on a quiet and wonderful World of the Great Classics reissue from 1976. This copy was one of the best we played, showing us depth and transparency that was only hinted at on most pressings, regardless of age.

The strings are so, so rich and sweet — this pressing is yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers of the day were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago. The ’50s master has been transferred brilliantly using “modern” cutting equipment (from 1976, not the low-rez junk they’re forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound that only the best of both worlds can offer.  (more…)

Mussorgsky – Ravel / Pictures at an Exhibition / Ashkenazy – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

xxxxx

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

This original London pressing of the solo piano version of Pictures has uncannily natural piano reproduction, which is why we are awarding this side one our highest sonic grade, A Triple Plus.

The fact that the recording takes place in Kingsway Hall in 1967 no doubt plays a large part in the superb sound. The hall is bigger here than on other copies, the piano even more solidly weighted, yet none of this comes at the expense of the clarity of the playing. There is no smear, allowing both the percussive aspects of the piano and the extended harmonics of the notes to be heard clearly and appreciated fully.

Side two has Mehta’s performance of the orchestrated work squeezed onto side two, which is never a good idea if one is looking for high quality orchestral sound. The performance itself is mediocre as well.

We are not, and never haver been, big fans of Mehta’s work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on London. The exceptionally rare copy of The Planets can sound good, but 90% of them do not — just don’t make the mistake of telling that to the average audiophile who owns one. Harry told him it was the best, he paid good money for it, and until someone tells him different it had better be “the one Planets to own.”

We see one of our roles here at Better Records as being the guys who actually will “tell you different”, and, more importantly, can back up our opinions with the records that make our case for us. (more…)

Bernard Herrmann – The Fantasy Film World of… – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

More Bernard Herrmann

More Fantasy Film World of…

xxxxx

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

Two AMAZING SOUNDING DEMO DISC LPS for the price of one! We’ve mated the HOTTEST SIDE ONE of one copy with the HOTTEST SIDE TWO of another to produce the best sounding complete Fantasy Film World we have ever heard. A+++ sound, with the kind of orchestral power that few recordings in the history of the world can lay claim to. There’s a reason this record is on the TAS Superdisc list — if any LP should be called a Superdisc, this one should. (With Phase Four sound you might even call it a Super-Duper-Disc.)   (more…)

Elgar / Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO – Reviewed in 2011

More Elgar

More Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO – 2011

xxxxx

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

This famous Shaded Dog, containing two superb performances by Monteux and the LSO, has many of the Golden Age strengths and weaknesses we know well here at Better Records, having played literally hundreds upon hundreds of these vintage pressings over the last twenty years or so. 

Both sides earned sonic grades of at least A+ to A++ (with side one being just a bit better than that but maybe not quite A++). The sound is rich and sweet and full of Living Stereo Magic!  

The wonderful sounding tube compressors that were used back in the day result in quieter passages that are positively swimming in ambience and low-level orchestral detail. Tube compression is, in large part, what we mean when we use the term Tubey Magic. (If you want to know what Zero Tubey Magic sounds like, play some Telarcs or Reference Recordings from the ’70s. Or a modern digital recording on CD.)

But all that sweet and rich Tubey Magic comes at a price when it’s time for the orchestra to get loud. It either can’t, or the louder passages simply distort from compressor overload. Fortunately on this copy the orchestra does not distort, it simply never gets as loud as it would have in a real concert hall, clearly the lesser and more preferable of the two evils. (more…)

Bernard Herrmann / Citizen Kane & Other Classic Film Scores – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

More Bernard Herrmann

More Citizen Kane & Other Classic Film Scores

xxxxx
xxxxx

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

The Citizen Kane Suite on this album is to die for — a real desert island disc for me. (The CD by the way is actually quite good. I have it in the car and play it often.) 

The Concerto Macabre for Piano and Orchestra (from “Hangover Square”) is superbly well recorded and a brilliant piece of music as well.

An orchestral dreadnought such as this requires mastering and pressing of the highest quality. The music by its very nature taxes the limits of LP playback itself, with deep bass notes; incredible dynamics from every area of the stage; masses of strings playing at the top of their registers with abandon; huge drums; powerful brass effects — every sound an orchestra can produce is found on this record, and then some.

You will hear plenty of sounds that defy description, that’s for sure. Some of the time I can hardly imagine what instrument or group of instruments could possibly be making some of these sounds. (more…)

Shostakovich / Sym. No.1 / Age of Gold Suite / Martinon

More Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Sym. No.1 / Age of Gold Suite / Martinon

xxxxx
xxxxx

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

Triple Plus on side one for the Symphony No. 1 – the sound is extraordinarily big, lively, clear and above all Tubey Magical. Side two is nearly as good, with all the same attributes, as rightly befits a true Golden Age Classic from 1959. Recorded in KINGSWAY HALL with the London Symphony, this Decca licensed title has orchestral sound to rival the best you’ve heard.

Both sides of this wonderful pressing are simply phenomenally good sounding, with size and scope the likes of which you rarely hear on record. (more…)

Elgar/ Pomp & Circumstance / LPO / Solti – Reviewed in 2005

More Elgar

More Pomp & Circumstance / LPO / Solti

xxxxx

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

Near Demo Quality. Solti is magnificent here. This record has even better sound than the famous Barbarolli. Another Wilkinson/ Kingsway winner.

It would be demo quality if it were recorded in ’67 instead of ’77; it doesn’t quite hang together in the climaxes the way an earlier recording would.

 

Elgar / Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO – Reviewed in 2005

More Elgar

More Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO – 2005

xxxxx

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

Near Demo quality. Outstanding sound. One of the best Enigma Variations around. The Brahms on the second side is also a treat. Better than the LSC if my experience from many years ago still holds up. 

See more recordings engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson
See more recordings made in Kingsway Hall

Bernard Herrmann – Conducts Psycho and Other Film Scores – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Bernard Herrmann

More Conducts Psycho and Other Film Scores

xxxxx

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

This very nice looking London Phase 4 LP has SUPERB SOUND for some of these pieces. Especially noteworthy is the ’Psycho Narrative For Orchestra’, at 14 minutes the longest piece here. Written purely for string orchestra, the tonality is Right On The Money (ROTM), with cellos that growl like the real thing. 

In fact, so much of this sounds so good, and is such a brilliant showcase for one of the great orchestral colorists, Bernard Herrmann, that you’ll be asking yourself why more classical music doesn’t sound like this. (more…)