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Heavy Vinyl Orchestral Music Scorecard

Audio Commentary  >  Start Here  >  Heavy Vinyl Orchestral Music Scorecard
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Liszt, Enesco, Smetana / Rhapsodies - Stokowski

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: lisztrhaps_classic_records) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

The lower strings are wonderful on the original -- wall to wall, with that rosiny texture we love. I wrote at the time -- this is twenty or so years ago -- that the Classic pressing took that rich, dark sound and brightened it up, naturally ruining it in the process. Cellos and double basses just don't sound like that. On the best pressings of LSC 2471 their timbre is Right On The Money. Of course, that's is the real thing, not some audiophile rebutchering.

Now if you're a Classic Records fan, and you like that brighter, more detailed, more aggressive sound, the original is probably not the record for you.


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Brahms / Piano Concerto #1 / Curzon / Szell

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: brahmpiano_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven't played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"One of the best of the Speakers Corner heavy vinyl reissues. As you may know they have gone way downhill lately. Haven't played this LP in a while but I remember liking it quite a bit."

More of the music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)


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Prokofiev / Love for Three Oranges Suite / Dorati

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: prokolovef_classic_records) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

Dreadful sound. The Mercury series on Classic is a disaster.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)


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Sibelius / Violin Concerto / Heifetz

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: sibelvioli_classic_records) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked. Classic remastered this title in the '90s -- it's one of the better Heifetz recordings. As expected, their version was awful, as bad as LSC 1903, 1992, 2129 and others too numerous to list.

More of the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)


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Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: tchaisym6_classic_records) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

It's been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as none-too-impressive, playing into my natural prejudice against early Living Stereo recordings and Classic Records themselves.

Keep in mind the Shaded Dog originals of this recording are awful too, as we make clear below.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Orchestral Music Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.


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Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Fiedler

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: offengaite_1817_classic_records) 
by RCA LP



Sonic Grade: F

Another Classic Records LP found wanting.

The last time I played the Classic I thought it was a smeary mess, as awful as their awful Scheherazade (both shamefully on the TAS List as I recall). If I were to play it today I'm guessing it would join the other Classic Records entries in our Hall of Shame.

I love Fiedler's performance and the 1954 two track RCA Living Stereo sound but finding an original Shaded Dog pressing in clean condition under $500 with the right stampers (something above 10 as a rule) is all but impossible nowadays.

More of the music of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)


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Mahler / Symphony No. 1 / Solti

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: mahlesym1_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: C+

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca. We haven't played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "C+" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. The right "real" pressing should be dramatically better sounding in every way. They almost always are.

See more of the music of Gustav Mahler


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Gounod - Ballet Music from Faust - Gibson

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: guonofaust_classic_records) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

Classic Records did a passable job with LSC 2449, one of their better efforts, but of course it has almost none of the sweetness, richness and ambience that the best RCA pressings have, and they have them more often than not in abundance. Their version is not awful, like most of the classical recordings they remastered, and considering that the original goes for many, many hundreds of dollars, might be worth picking up at a reasonable price.


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Mendelssohn & Prokofiev / Concertos / Heifetz / Munch

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: mendeconce_2314_classic_records) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Heavy Vinyl Classical LP debunked.

Classic Records ruined this album, as expected. Their version is dramatically more aggressive, edgy and smeared than the better vintage pressings. In fact it's just plain awful, like most of the classical recordings they remastered.

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


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Berlioz / A Berlioz Orchestra Spectacular

Another Dubby Klavier Mess of a Record

  (Item #: berliaberl_klavier) 
by klavier



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Record and another Remastered Audiophile Pressing debunked. Eight spectacular shorter works including overtures, marches and excerpts from symphonic poems. Orchestral fireworks to make your stereo come alive.

But the sound is thick and opaque because the record was mastered from a copy tape, and not all that well anyway.


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Falla/ The Three Cornered Hat - de Burgos

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: fallathree_alto) 
by Heavy Vinyl Audiophile Reissue



Sonic Grade: C

Years ago we wrote: "This Alto 180 gram LP has very good sound overall but is a bit smeary on the strings and harsh on the brass."

In other words, it's just another Heavy Vinyl Classical LP we found wanting.

More of the music of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)


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Beethoven / Violin Concerto in D / Heifetz

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: beethvioli_1992_classic_records) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

It is an airless fraud, a cheap fake reproduction that's incapable of fooling anyone with two good ears, a properly set up stereo and a decent collection of Golden Age violin concertos.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Debussy - Iberia (Images Pour Orchestra)

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: debusiberi_2222_classic_records) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

The Classic of LSC 2222 is all but unlistenable on a highly resolving system. The opacity, transient smear and loss of harmonic information and ambience found on Classic's pressing drives us right up the wall. Who can sit through a record that sounds like that? Way back in 1994, long before we had anything like the system we do now, we were disparaging the "Classic Records Sound" in our catalogs.

More of the music of Claude Debussy


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Chabrier / Espana and more / Paray

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: chabrespan_classic_records) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

I much prefer Ansermet’s performances on London to those of Paray on Mercury. I know of none better. The famous Classic pressing of the Mercury is a grainy, gritty, shrill piece of crap.

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)


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Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: mussopictu_classic_records) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

The shrillness, the hardness, the sourness, the loss of texture to the strings, the phony boosted deep bass -- this is the kind of sound that makes my skin crawl. After a minute or two I’ve had it. And the performance is dreadful as well.

HP put this on his TAS List? Yes he did!

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Heifetz / Reiner

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: tchaivioli_2129_classic) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

The Classic is both aggessive and lacking in rosiny string texture at the same time, the worst of both worlds. Bernie's cutting system is what I would call Low Resolution -- the harmonics and subtleties of the sound simply never make it to the vinyl.

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


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Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture - Alwyn

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: tchai1812_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B

Excellent, one of the best of the Deccas. Better sound by far than the Classic with Reiner, although of course the original of that record is quite good. You may get better results if you reverse your absolute phase when playing this record. It's been a while since I did it so better to check it yourself and see how you like it each way.

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


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Grieg / Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad / LSO

Speakers Corner Reviewed / VTA Advice

  (Item #: griegpeerg_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: C+

The Fjeldstad has long been one of our favorite performances of Peer Gynt here at Better Records.

This record is handy for VTA set-up as well, a subject discussed below in our listing from 2010.

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)


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Grieg / Piano Concerto - Curzon / Boult

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: griegpiano_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven't played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the '90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"One of the best Deccas -- superb sound and music that belongs in your life!"

This performance also includes Franck's "Variations Symphoniques" and Litolff''s "Scherzo from Concerto Symphonique, Op. 102".

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)


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Stravinsky - Le Sacre du Printemps - Solti

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: stravlesac_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca.

Years ago we wrote the following: "Wow! What a performance! What dynamic full bodied sound! To be fair, I pulled out my original London, one of those awful mid-'70s English pressings that are never quiet, and yes, some of the ambience on the original is missing here on the new version, but everything else seems right: dynamics, tonality, the frequency extremes (including some pretty awesome deep bass)."

Can't be sure we would still feel that way but I'm guessing this is a good record if you can pick one up at a cheap price.

More of the music of Igor Stravinsky


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Stravinsky - Petrushka - Ansermet

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: stravpetru_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven't played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the '90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"One of the best of the Deccas. Superb sound. Ansermet''s performance here is definitive."

More of the music of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)


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Shostakovich / The Age of Gold - Martinon

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: shostageof_2322_classic) 
by RCA LP



Sonic Grade: D

Another Classic Records LP debunked.

It's been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as fairly typical of their mediocre-at-best catalog, tonally fine but low-rez and lacking space, warmth and above all Tubey Magic. I don't think I've ever played an original or a VICS reissue that didn't sound better, and that means that the best grade to give Classic's pressing is probably a D: below average.

More reviews of Heavy Vinyl Classical LPs.

More of the music of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)


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Rimsky-Korsakov - The Tale of Tsar Saltan

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: rimsktaleo_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: C

We cracked open the Speakers Corner pressing shown here in order to see how it would fare up against a pair of wonderful sounding Londons we were in the process of shooting out a while ago. Here's what we heard in our head to head comparison.

The soundstage, never much of a concern to us at here at Better Records but nevertheless instructive in this case, shrinks roughly 25% with the new pressing; depth and ambience are reduced about the same amount. But what really bothered me was this: The sound was just so VAGUE.

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock


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Schubert / Great C Major Symphony / Krips

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: schubsym9_2045_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven't played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the '90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"Superb sound with a great performance to match. A TOP TOP TITLE in every way. This performance has never been equaled and probably never will be (on any format I can stand to listen to!)"

More of the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)


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Stravinsky / The Firebird Suite / Ansermet

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: stravfireb_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven't played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the '90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"Excellent sound with a wonderful performance from Ansermet."

More of the music of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)


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Mozart / Sinfonia Concertante / Oistrakh (Igor and David)

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: mozarsinfo_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca.

Years ago we wrote that the following: "One of the best of the Decca reissues! EXCELLENT SOUND for these pieces, written for violin, viola and orchestra." Can't be sure we would still feel that way but I'm guessing this is a good record at the price.

See more of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)


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Respighi / Pines Of Rome / Maazel

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: respipines_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: C

We were only slightly impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing of this album, writing at the time: "The famous TAS List recording. Very good sound. You can do better but it's not easy. This work is just too difficult to record."

We have never done a Hot Stamper shootout of the album but hope to soon.

More recordings engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson


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Beethoven - Symphony #5 - Monteux

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: beethsym5_1103_classic) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: B

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

It's been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as being quite good. At the time we wrote: "One of the better Classic Records classical titles." and we'll just have to stick with that for now, since we haven't played the record in more than ten years.

More Living Stereo


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Saint-Saens - Organ Symphony

180g Klavier Debunked

  (Item #: saintsym3_klavier) 
by klavier



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing.

Yet another murky, smeary Audiophile Piece of Trash from the mastering lathe of the formerly brilliant Doug Sax. He used to cut the best sounding records in the world. Then he started working for Analogue Productions and never cut a good record again as far as I know.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)


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Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture / Kunzel

Telarc UHQR Debunked

  (Item #: tchai1812_UHQR) 
by Telarc



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

This is what we had to say about the UHQR back in 2005 or so:

Having played this record all the way through, I have to comment on some of its sonic qualities. It's about the most dynamic recording I've ever heard. This was the promise of digital, which was never really delivered. On this record, that promise has been fulfilled. The performance is also one of the best on record. It's certainly the most energetic I can remember.

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


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Mozart - Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - Munchinger

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: mozareinek_2270) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B?

We were impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing of this album when it came out back in 1994. We wrote: "Probably the best sound and performance of the Eine Kleine available -- highly recommended!

We haven't played a copy in years, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds.

See more of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)


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Various Composers / Ballet Music From The Opera / Fistoulari

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: varioballe_2400_debunk) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

Classic Records ruined this album, as one would have expected. Their version is dramatically more aggressive, shrill and harsh than the Shaded Dogs we've played, with almost none of the sweetness, richness and ambience that the best RCA pressings have in such abundance. In fact their pressing is just plain awful, like most of the classical recordings they remastered, and should be avoided at any price.

More Living Stereo


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Beethoven / Symphony #4 / Monteux

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: beethsymph4_debunk) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

It's been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as none-too-impressive, playing into my natural prejudice against early Living Stereo recordings and Classic Records themselves.

More music by Ludwig van Beethoven


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Falla / Nights In The Gardens Of Spain - De Burgos

Testament Heavy Vinyl Debunked

  (Item #: fallanight_debunk) 
by Testament Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

Another pointless Heavy Vinyl reissue, this time from Testament, with sound bad enough to qualify for our Hall of Shame. Dead as a doornail. Surely even the CD is better.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Orchestral Music Scorecard to read more about the latest winners and losers.

More music by Manuel de Falla


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Mozart / Clarinet Concerto / Maag

(Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: mozarclari_decca) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B?

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca reissue.

Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the '90 when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"One of the best of the Deccas. I raved about this one years ago when it came out. If I had to pick a record to demonstrate how wonderful Decca recordings are, musically and sonically, this would be an easy choice."

More Mozart


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Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon

Speakers Corner - Reviewed in the '90s

  (Item #: schubtrout_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B?

We were impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing when it came out back in the day. We've come to learn that it is such an exceptional recording that even their second rate remastering of it was still capable of producing a very good sounding record.

One of the ways you can tell how great a recording this is is simply this: as soon as the needle hits the groove you are immediately involved in the music, listening to each of the lines created by the five preternaturally gifted players, all the while marveling at Schubert's compositional skills.

More of the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)


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