Top Studios and Concert Halls – Victoria Hall

Bizet – L’arlesienne And Carmen Suites – Ansermet

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning side one mated to a nearly as good side two, this pressing has the best sounding Carmen Suite we have ever heard – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is the best sounding and quietest Carmen Suite to ever make it to the site, and it was worth the wait – the sound of this vintage Blueback is absolutely breathtaking
  • If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good ’60s All Tube Analog can be, this killer copy should be just the record to do it
  • Recorded in 1961 using the amazing Decca Tree mic setup, it’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording

This is High Fidelity Audiophile Gold, with an orchestra that sounds so real it will take your breath away. The Golden Age tapes have clearly been mastered brilliantly onto this vintage London Blueback vinyl.

No doubt you have run into something like this in our classical listings:

This London is energetic, dynamic, spacious, transparent, rich and sweet. James Walker was the producer, Roy Wallace the engineer for these 1961 sessions in Geneva’s glorious Victoria Hall. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology,

We were impressed with the fact that this pressing excelled in so many areas of reproduction. The illusion of disappearing speakers is one of the more attractive aspects of the sound here, allowing the listener to inhabit the space of the concert hall in an especially engrossing way. (more…)

Albeniz / Iberia – Ansermet

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

The sound of this copy is so transparent, undistorted, three-dimensional and REAL, without any sacrifice in solidity, richness or Tubey Magic, that we knew we had a real winner on our hands as soon as the needle hit the groove.

We were impressed with the fact that it excelled in so many areas of reproduction. The illusion of disappearing speakers is one of the more attractive aspects of the sound here, pulling the listener into the space of the concert hall in an especially engrossing way.

Side One – Iberia (1-4)

A huge hall, correct string tone, spacious and open as practically any orchestral recording you can find!

Listen to the plucked basses – clear, not smeary, with no sacrifice in richness. Take it from us, the guys that play classical recordings by the score, this is hard for a record to do!

Listen to how natural the cymbal crashes are. (more…)

Bizet – L’arlesienne And Carmen Suites

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

With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side two and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one, this pressing is one of the best sounding Carmen Suites we have ever heard. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good ’60s All Tube Analog can be, this killer copy should be just the record to do it. This is only the second Carmen Suite to make it to the site, and it was worth the wait – the sound of this vintage Blueback is absolutely breathtaking. Recorded in 1961 using the amazing Decca Tree mic setup, it’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.

What To Listen For – Side to Side

My notes for side two read:

Could use more tubes.

Strings could be a bit smoother.

Needs a bit more weight down low.

Side one had all of this and more!

(more…)

Ravel & Dukas / Bolero & Sorcerer’s Apprentice / Ansermet

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

We are rarely able to find quality recordings (or performances) of either Bolero or The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, so this pressing comes as an especially welcome addition to the classical offerings on the site. 

The sound is clear, with wonderful depth to the stage. As a rule, the classic ’50s and ’60s recordings of Ansermet and the Suisse Romande in Victoria Hall are as big and rich as any you may have encountered. These recordings strike us as the ideal blend of clarity and richness, with depth and spaciousness that will put to shame 98% of the classical recordings ever made.

Bolero (Ravel)

ZERO compression. ZERO distortion when loud. Which means it has ZERO compressor distortion, something not five out of a hundred Golden Age recordings can claim. Nice extended top too.

The strings are never dry nor shrill, and the brass is neither sour nor brash, but gets big and stays clear. No other copy could do all of these things.

There is depth and richness here to beat the band, as well as clarity and tonal correctness that let you forget the recording and just enjoy the music.

The timbre of the brass is right on the money. As we have noted before, the brass of the Suisse Romande is some of the best to have ever been committed to analog tape. (more…)

Stravinsky / Song of the Nightingale / Ansermet – Reviewed in 2007

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

“Song of the Nightingale” is far more enjoyable in Ansermet’s hands than in Reiner’s or Dorati’s. The sound is significantly better on this pressing than on the Stereo Treasury, the RCA, and the Mercury versions. Once past the obvious saturation that opens this recording, the sound is perfection! The percussion leaps off of this LP like it does with a good Direct To Disc recording. The strength of this LP is “Song of the Nightingale”.

The “Pulcinella Suite”, also featured on this record, never sounds as good as “Song of the Nightingale”. But what does?

Tchaikovsky / Swan Lake / Ansermet – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This London Small Red Label “Whiteback” (it’s white inside the box, not on the back but you get what I mean) UK Import 2 LP Set put every other recording we had of Swan Lake to shame. This is the one folks, assuming you want a nearly complete performance of the work. (We will have some single LP highlight pressings coming to the site down the road. The Fistoulari on London can be especially good on the right pressing.) 

The performance here by Ansermet and the Suisse Romande I rank second to none.

Ansermet is surely the man for this music, and the famously huge hall he recorded in just as surely contributes much to the wonderful sound here. (The Royal Gala Ballet is a good example. If you have the two grand to spend we highly recommend you find yourself a good one. And don’t waste your money on the Classic no matter what you may have read elsewhere.)

Speaking of bad sounding Heavy Vinyl, Speakers Corner reissued this very recording on 180g fifteen years ago or so and ruined it. Imagine that. (I happily admit their Nutcracker was quite good for a Heavy Vinyl reissue. It cannot hold a candle to a good vintage pressing but it will beat most of what’s out there on audiophile vinyl, which, truth be told, isn’t saying much.) (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Sleeping Beauty / Ansermet / 3 LP Box Set

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

Big Decca sound! Powerful deep bass. Beautiful string tone and sharply articulated brass sound. This is a wonderful record. Ansermet is of course a master of the ballet. The performance here is outstanding, perhaps even definitive.

Tchaikovsky / Nutcracker Suites 1 & 2 / Ansermet – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Nutcracker Suites 1 & 2 / Ansermet

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

This is an AMAZINGLY well recorded performance of one of the most famous ballets, probably the most famous, ever committed to analog tape. Enchanting music and sound combine on this copy to make one seriously good Demo Disc, if what you are trying to demonstrate is how relaxed and involved vintage analog can make you feel.

A record like this lets you get lost in the world of its music, and what could be more important in a recording than that? 

There is certainly no shortage of Audio Spectaculars available on the site. A record such as this, so rich, natural and effortless, has distinctly different qualities that we feel are every bit as vital to the critical audiophile’s enjoyment of Tchaikovsky’s music. (more…)

Rimsky-Korsakov / Christmas Eve Suite / Ansermet – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) 

Christmas Eve Suite / Ansermet 

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

This Blueback original pressing has EXCELLENT Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides, with both sides earning grades of A+ to A++. The sound is rich and Tubey Magical in the finest tradition of London / Decca.

The Christmas Eve suite takes up the entire first side, with three shorter pieces comprising the second. Rimsky-Korsakov’s exotic orchestrations, much like those found on his wonderful Scheherazade, are pure audiophile ear candy from first note to last. (more…)

Glazounov / The Seasons / Ansermet – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

More Victoria Hall

More Glazounov / The Seasons / Ansermet

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

This London Whiteback LP (CS 6509) has a Super Hot Side Two, flowing with Decca / London richness and sweetness. As we’ve said on the site many times, the London pressings with catalog numbers that start with 6400 and 6500 are some of the best recordings we’ve ever played. 

Side two gives you that sound. There are two lovely Concert Waltzes that complete the program and they are just wonderful here, with quiet vinyl to boot. (more…)