Once again, the right Decca reissue blows the doors off the original London we played. This has lately become a pattern, but keep in mind it’s a pattern that’s reliable less than half the time, if memory is any guide. Many of the Decca reissues we’ve played over the last few years have failed badly in a head to head with their earlier-mastered and -pressed counterparts.
But the ones that beat all comers are the ones that stick in our minds and show up on our site.
Clearly a case of confirmation bias, but at least we know something about our own biases, and that puts us well ahead of the audiophile pack.
Record collectors and record collecting audiophiles will tell you it shouldn’t happen, but fools like us, who refuse to accept the prognostications of those supposedly “in the know,” have done the work and come up with the experimental data that’s proven them wrong again and again.
Sort of. We had one, and only one, pressing of the original London (CS 6185), and boy was it a mess — crude as crude can be. It sounded like an “old London record” — we’ve played them by the hundreds, if not thousands, so we know that sound fairly well by now — not the Decca engineered and mastered vintage collectible we know it to be.
Are there copies that sound better? Surely there are, but how are you going to find them? Are you going to shell out the going rate of $25-50 on ebay for one (or more) clean copies, only to find that it/they sound every bit as bad as the one we auditioned? The question answers itself.
If, however, you are one of the lucky few who has a nice London or Decca original of this recording, please let us send you this copy so that you can do the shootout for yourself. You may be shocked at how good this music can sound on the right pressing. And if your copy sounds better than ours we will be very shocked indeed. [This offer was only good while we had the record, and it is long gone at this point. We still remember the sound though!]
Production and Engineering
James Walker was the producer, Roy Wallace the engineer for these sessions from April of 1959 in Geneva’s glorious Victoria Hall. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.
The hall the Suisse Romande recorded in was possibly the best recording venue of its day, possibly of all time. More amazing sounding recordings were made there than in any other hall we know of. There is a solidity and richness to the sound beyond all others, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least.
It’s as wide, deep and three-dimensional as any, which is of course all to the good, but what makes the sound of these recordings so special is the weight and power of the brass, combined with unerring timbral accuracy of the instruments in every section of the orchestra.