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Brahms & Dvorak / Hungarian & Slavonic Dances / Reiner

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: brahmhunga_15009_2010) 



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

GOOD SOUND and QUIET VINYL on both sides of this British Stereo Treasury pressing -- this one beat out some of our Blueback pressings! This one gives you more extension both up top and down low than the typical pressings. It's not the most impressive record in the world, but it's a nice step up from most copies out there and the vinyl is quiet.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms - Concerto No. 2- Reiner / Gilels

Cisco Reviewed

  (Item #: brahmpiano2_2281_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: C+?

Another Heavy Vinyl pressing from Cisco / Impex reviewed.

It's been quite a while since I played the Cisco pressing, but I remember it as being quite good. At the time we wrote: "The overall sound is smooth and spacious. The piano may lack the full weight of the live instrument, but that's RCA's fault, not Cisco's. If you can look past that you will find this to be one of the better Living Stereo reissues available today." and we'll just have to stick with that for now, since we haven't played the record in more than ten years.

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


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Brahms / Concerto for Violin and Cello - Heifetz / Piatigorsky (LDS 2513)

  (Item #: brahmvioli_2513) 



This nice looking RCA Soria pressing plays about Mint Minus, pretty quiet for a Shaded Dog era pressing.

The orchestra is its typical shrill self. The cello and violin sound wonderful most of the time. When they really get going the sound can be a bit much. At moderate volumes the record is very enjoyable.

This is a famous recording for having distortion and congestion in the louder orchestral passages. There is no such thing as a copy of this record that doesn't have that problem. You listen to this record for the wonderul interplay between Heifetz and Piatigorsky and not much else.

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


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Brahms / Four Symphonies / Boult (4 LP Box Set)

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: brahmfours_5009_2012) 



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

This is an IMMACULATE looking EMI 4 LP Box Set. These recordings have much more presence, as well as beautifully textured strings, unlike many of the typical ’70s mid-hall, vague, cold sounding EMIs that some audiophiles seem to like. (At least they seem to like them much more than I do.) In fact the more I play this set the more I like it. Boult quite a bit of energy to these performances, especially considering his age at the time (he was in his 80s!).

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


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Brahms / Hungarian Dances / Dvorak / Slavonic Dances

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: brahmhunga_6198_2011) 



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

The London pressing of this music used to be on the TAS List but appears to have been dropped at some point over the years. Not that I would notice what comes and goes on HP's list, as I do not hold it in as high a regard as most audiophiles I have met over the years. For some reason there were those who tended to think it definitive or consistent. I can assure you it is neither.

The Brahms here (side one) is nothing special on this copy, but the Dvorak is SUPERB, sounding much better than the other Bluebacks we played and the Stereo Treasury copies as well. With Reiner at the helm both sides are lively and fun.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Piano Concerto #1 / Curzon / Szell

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: brahmpiano_6329_2006) 



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

This is a Near Mint London Whiteback Import LP with an excellent side one. Side one sounds about as good as this record can sound -- smooth and sweet with a natural top end and plenty of deep bass. Side two is not quite as magical.

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


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Brahms / Piano Concerto #1 / Curzon / Szell

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: brahmpiano_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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Brahms / Piano Concerto #2 - Van Cliburn / Reiner / CSO

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: brahmpc2_2581_2005) 



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

This White Dog pressing is the best sounding copy I've ever heard, much better than the earlier pressings! The piano doesn''t break up like it does on those, especially in the second movement. Finally the piano sounds right - solid and with the correct overtones. It goes without saying that this is an exceptionally good performance as well. One of the best of the Cliburn recordings.

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


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Brahms / Piano Concerto #2 / Bachauer

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: brahmpiano_2012) 



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

This original Maroon Label Mercury pressing has big and rich Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, with a a side one that's very nearly as good.

In fact the piano itself on side one earned a grade of A++ for its amazingly present and real sound. It's the orchestra that's the problem, but that happens quite often with Mercury concerto records in our experience. We're just happy that side two sounds so good and that side one is clearly a big step up from the average copy.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Piano Concerto No. 2 / Gilels / Reiner

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: brahmpiano2_2010) 



This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

This Very Nice Plum Label Victrola has excellent sound -- sweet and spacious -- but only if you reverse your absolute phase. The vinyl is quiet and, most importantly, this is arguably the greatest performance of all time. The LSC might be a tad better overall; they're so darn rare it's hard to know.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Sonata #3 in F Minor / Rubinstein

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: brahmsonat_2459_2011) 



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

This exceptionally rare Shaded Dog pressing has AMAZING sound on side one, A+++, with side two rating a nearly as good sonic grade of A++. I can't recall the last time I played a solo piano recording that was this transparent and lively. It's shockingly realistic; this is what a piano sounds like in performance.

Well, almost. Rubinstein's recordings never manage to convey all the weight of a real concert grand piano -- as if any home stereo could anyway -- but this recording is still relatively full-bodied. What it is more than anything else is REAL sounding. You will quickly forget that you are listening to a record at all.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Sonata in D Minor / Laredo

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: brahmsonat_2414_2007) 



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

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND for this incredibly rare Living Stereo violin record.

This is the first copy I've ever seen. Side one, the Brahms Sonata, has very good sound and is played beautifully. When I dropped the needle on side two I went "Wow!"

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Sonatas #2 & 3 / Rubinstein and Szeryng

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: brahmsonat_2619_2010) 



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

3S/ 4S RCA Shaded Dog. The sound is actually quite decent when you INVERT the ABSOLUTE PHASE. If you cannot or will not do that, this record will not sound good -- it's somewhat hard and bright. It will never be a Top Shaded Dog but it is a good one with the absolute phase inverted.

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


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Brahms / Trio & Beethoven / Sonata for Horn and Piano

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: brahmtrioi_2420_2013) 



This is an exceptionally good sounding chamber record on the RCA White Dog label, especially on side two, which earned a sonic grade of A++ to A+++. Side two has the Beethoven work for horn and piano, and it sounds about as real and natural as a chamber recording can. Side one is not quite up to the same sonic standards, but is quite good nevertheless, earning a very respectable grade of A+ to A++.

This title is so rare I had literally never seen one in my 25+ years as a dealer in audiophile-oriented recordings. The other bit of good news is that the vinyl is unusually quiet, playing as it does mostly Mint Minus. How many early RCA pressings can make such a claim? No more than five per cent I would think, if that.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)


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Brahms / Variations And Fugue On A Theme By Handel / Katchen

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: brahmvaria_6158_2008) 



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

Near Mint copy with excellent sound! Superb piano tone for these solo pieces and very quiet vinyl add up to a wonderful listening experience. This surprisingly quiet British vinyl is going to be hard to beat by other Golden Age labels. (Finding solo piano recordings on RCA or Mercury from this era that play quietly is practically impossible.)

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Violin Concerto - Milstein / Steinberg

  (Item #: brahmvioli) 



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

Another nice Milstein record with exquisite violin tone. Of course the performance is magical. The massed strings are lovely here. Lots of hall, big spacious sound, and of course a violin to die for.

See all of our pressings with Nathan Milstein performing


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Brahms / Violin Concerto / Heifetz / Reiner

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: brahmvioli_1903_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The Classic reissue of LSC 1903 is a disaster: shrill, smeary and unmusical.

The best Heifetz records on Classic were, if memory serves, LSC 2734 (Glazunov), LSC 2603 (Bruch) and LSC 2769 (Rozsa). They aren't nearly as offensive as the others. If you can pick one up for ten or twenty bucks, you might get your money's worth depending, I suppose, on how critically you listen to your classical records.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Violin Concerto / Szeryng / Dorati

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: brahmvioli_90308_2012) 



These later Mercury stampers are wonderful: gorgeous woodwinds, a large, full-bodied orchestra and of course a Tubey Magical violin to die for. Both sides earned SUPERB Super Hot Stamper grades (but for very different reasons). The exciting sound is matched by an equally exciting performance by Dorati. Dorati and the LSO pull out all the stops; they're staking out a position as to just how powerfully and emotionally this work ought to be performed.

The opening is so dramatic -- in the style of the First Brahms Symphony -- that it's hard to imagine there is any recording medium that can capture it without a fair amount of dynamic compression. This vintage pressing suffers from a relatively (in our experience) small amount of congestion and shrillness at the opening and elsewhere.

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

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Brahms / Violin Concerto / Szeryng / Monteux

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: brahmvioli_2281_2007) 



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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND!.

One of the most amazing violin concerto records I have ever heard! Makes most of the Heifetz records pale in comparison. The performance is sublime as well.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Violin Concerto In D Major / Stern / Ormandy

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: brahmconce_2009) 



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

This very nice looking Columbia LP has SUPERB SOUND on side two. The violin is much sweeter than on side one and there's much less distortion during the loud passages. If we were grading this as a Hot Stamper we'd give it about an A+ - A++. And on top of all that, Isaac Stern, never one of my favorite performers, is actually wonderful here. He plays beautifully.

See all pressings of Johannes Brahms' music in stock


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Brahms and Dvorak / Serenades / Kertesz

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: brahmseren_6594_2011) 



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

This London Whiteback LP (CS 6594) has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, which is where the Dvorak Serenade for 10 wind instruments, cello and bass can be found. It has lovely space and depth, with dead on tonality and lots of Tubey Magic.

If you love the sound of wind instruments (and who doesn't? British Band Classics springs immediately to mind as one of the most enjoyable classical recordings I own), then this just may be the classical chamber recording for you.

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Brahms Violin Concerto

Is the 1s Pressing Always the Best?

  (Item #: brahmvioli_1903_myth) 



This early Shaded Dog pressing of a 1958 recording has surprisingly good Super Hot stamper sound on side two. On the second side the sound opens up and is very sweet, with the violin becoming much more present and clear. The whole of side two is transparent with an extended top. Usually the earliest Living Stereo titles suffer from a lack of top end extension, but not this one.

Maybe the 1S is that way. For some reason audiophiles tend to think that the earliest cuttings are the best, but that's just another Record Myth in our experience, easily refuted if you've played hundreds of these Living Stereo pressings and noted which stampers sound the best and which do not.

More recordings featuring the violin


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Brahms, Handel, Chopin - Lincoln Mayorga, Pianist

Reverse Your Polarity!

  (Item #: variobrahm_mayorga) 



This IMMACULATE Sheffield Direct-to-Disc LP with Very Little Sign Of Play (VLSOP) is one of the best Sheffields. Lincoln Mayorga is an accomplished classical pianist: this is arguably his best work. (I had a chance to see him perform at a recital of Chopin's works early in 2010 and he played superbly -- for close to two hours without the aid of sheet music I might add.)

You might want to try reversing the phase when playing this LP; it definitely helps the sound, a subject we discuss below.

See more of our Direct to Disc recordings


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Elgar / Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: elgarenigm_1107_2007) 



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



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Elgar / Enigma Variations / Monteux / LSO

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: elgarenigm_2418_2011) 



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!

See more recordings engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson


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Franck / Piano Quintette & Brahms / Heifetz, Piatigorsky et al.

Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: francpiano_2739_2013) 



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

A stellar reading of the Franck from this formidable group. Side one of this Shaded Dog is Super Hot: rich, smooth and sweet. The piano is exceptionally well-recorded, with real weight. The Brahms is very good if you can reverse your polarity.

See all pressings of Franck's music in stock
See all pressings of Brahms' music in stock


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Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture / Reiner

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: tchai1812o_2241_2017) 



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

The real stars here are NOT the 1812, but the three coupling works, which demonstrate, on this copy at least, The Real Power of the Orchestra. The remarkably rich, Tubey Magical and oh-so-rosiny Living Stereo strings and powerful, dynamic brass make this a real demo quality orchestral heavyweight. Lizst's Mephisto Waltz, Mendelssohn's The Hebrides Overture, and the Tragic Overture by Brahms are the Must Own 36 minutes worth of music on the record.

More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1886)


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The Brahms Violin Concerto

Unplug or Suffer the Consequences!

  (Item #: brahmvioli_test) 



The massed strings here, such as those found at the opening, are close miked and immediate in the "Mercury recording style." Your electricity better be good when you play this record, because it presents a test many of you will have trouble passing at even moderate levels.

We've often encouraged our readers and customers to go about unplugging things in their homes in order to test the effect of clean electricity on their playback systems. The opening of this record is a perfect example of the kind of material with which everyone should be testing in order to hear these changes. I'd be very surprised if the strings on this record don't sound noticeably better after you've unplugged a few things in your house, and the more the better.

More recordings featuring the violin


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