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Albeniz / Iberia - Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: albeniberi_2017) 



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.

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)


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Beethoven / Symphony #6 (Pastoral) / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: beethsym6_6160_2016) 



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

In our opinion this is the best sounding Beethoven 6th Symphony ever recorded. It is the most beautiful of them all, and has long been my personal favorite of the nine Beethoven composed.

Ansermet's performance is clearly definitive to my ear as well. The gorgeous 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 any other hall we know of. There is a richness to the sound that exceeds all others, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Symphony No. 9 / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: beethsymp9_2016) 



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

The is the best recording of the Beethoven 9th Symphony we have ever played here at Better Records

Ansermet's performance is clearly definitive to my ear as well. The gorgeous 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 any other hall we know of.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Big Speakers, Loud Levels and More Power to the Orchestra

  (Item #: mussopictu_6177) 



The darker brass instruments like tubas, trombones and french horns are superb here. Other Golden Age recordings of the work, as enjoyable as they may be in other respects, do not recreate the full weight of the brass, probably because of compression, limiting, tube smear, or some combination of the three.

The brass on this record has a power like no other. It's also tonally correct. It's not agressive. It's not irritating. It's just immediate and powerful the way the real thing is when you hear it live. That's what really caught my ear when I first played Ansermet's recording.

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Bizet & Saint-Saens / Carmen Fantasie

This Is Why You Must Do Shootouts

  (Item #: bizetcarme_wtlf) 



Ricci’s playing of the Bizet-Sarasate Carmen Fantasie is OUT OF THIS WORLD. There is no greater performance on record in my opinion, and few works that have as much Audiophile Appeal. Which is why I've had a copy of this record in my own collection for about fifteen years marked "My Demo Disc". But this copy KILLED it. How could that be?

It just goes to show: No matter how good a particular copy of a record may sound to you, when you clean and play enough of them you will almost always find one that's better, and often surprisingly better. Shootouts are the only way to find these kinds of records. Nothing else works.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875)


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Bizet / Carmen Fantaisie, etc. - Ricci / Gamba

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: bizetcarme_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C

Speakers Corner remastered this title back in the '90s and did a decent enough job; I would guess my grade would be about a "C". We carried it and recommended it at the time. I doubt if I would have very many kind things to say about it now. We've played an enormous number of superb classical records in the last five years or so and the bar is dramatically higher than it used to be.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875)


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Bizet / Symphony in C Major / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: bizetsymph_2011) 



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

This Decca Ace of Diamonds pressing of Ansermet's 1961 recording has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides. The Symphony in C, which takes up the whole of side one, is BIG and LIVELY, which is just the kind of sound that makes us swoon here at Better Records. Live music IS big and lively, so why shouldn't the best records be?

The second movement has a sublimely gorgeous oboe part you must hear. The whole side is wonderfully spacious, with real depth.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875)


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Bizet / Symphony in C Major / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bizetsymph_2012) 



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

This London pressing of Ansermet's 1961 recording has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides. The Symphony in C, which takes up the whole of side one, is BIG and LIVELY, which is just the kind of sound that makes us swoon here at Better Records. Live music IS big and lively, so why shouldn't the best records be? The bottom end has real power on this copy, the way live music does.

We like our recordings to have as many Live Music qualities as possible, and those qualities really come through on a record such as this when reproduced on the full-range speaker system we use.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875)


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Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: chabrespan_JB10_2011) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper Decca reissue pressing has superb sound on both sides, with some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard.

On both sides it is very RICH and TUBEY. Some might even say that it's too "Tubey Magical", but of course that's a matter of taste. If you like the dry sterility of the modern Heavy Vinyl pressing, perhaps this is not the right record for you. Or maybe this is EXACTLY the record you need, the one that can show you what real vintage Golden Age Glorious Analog is all about.

See more of our spectacular orchestral recordings in stock


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Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: chabrorche_2016) 



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

The Espana side earned our rare and coveted Four Plus (A++++) Sonic Grade - Wow! Monstrous size and dynamic power thanks to the brilliant Decca engineering of Roy Wallace. Without a doubt the most spectacular sound we’ve ever heard from CS 6438.

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


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Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: chabrorche_2009) 



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

This side one has some of the loveliest classical music reproduction we’ve heard around here in ages. Man, this has it all going on: it’s super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, and it has the full weight of the orchestra down low. The string tone is so sweet and silky I have to say it’s AGAIG -- As Good As It Gets. We've only heard one other copy that was worth the coveted Three Pluses on side one that this LP earned. If you want a classical record to TEST your system, if you want a classical record to DEMO your system, you will have a hard time finding a better pressing than this one for both.

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


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Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

What to Listen For

  (Item #: chabrorche_wtlf_2016) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

On many copies the strings are dry, lacking Tubey Magic. This is decidedly not our sound, although it can easily be heard on many London pressings, the kind we've played by the hundreds over the years. If you have a rich sounding cartridge, perhaps with that little dip in the upper midrange that so many moving coils have these days, you will not notice this tonality issue nearly as much as we do. Our 17D3 is ruler flat and quite unforgiving in this regard.

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


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Debussy / Images Pour Orchestre / Argenta

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: debusimage_15020_2012) 



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

Presenting Super Hot Stamper sound on side two of this Stereo Treasury LP, which is where this superbly performed, wonderul sounding Iberia can be found. Although lacking in orchestral weight, from about 200 cycles up this copy is perfection. In its own way -- especially on systems with not a lot of firepower down low -- this side two qualifies as a Demo Disc.

See more of our spectacular orchestral recordings in stock


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Debussy / Images Pour Orchestre / Argenta

Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: debusimage_6013_2013) 



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

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Side two (with Iberia) is simply amazing. It''s more natural than the famous Reiner performance. Argenta brings out the folky quality of this music.

Side one is nothing special. The real magic is on side two.

More of the music of Claude Debussy


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Delibes / Coppelia & Sylvia / Ansermet

London Vs. Decca, Again

  (Item #: delibcoppe_decca) 



Don't buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals are better. The right Decca reissue blows the doors off the original 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.

More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891)


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Delibes / Coppelia / Ansermet

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: delibcoppe_2201_2010) 



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

Very good sound from the Master Ballet Conductor, Ernest Ansermet, with only a few slightly bright passages marring an otherwise wonderful recording.

More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891)


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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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Falla / El Amor Brujo & El Retablo de Maese Pedro / Argenta

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: fallaelamo_2012) 



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

The famous Ansermet recording of El Retablo de Maese Pedro (Master Peter's Puppet Show) has been mastered on this London Stereo Treasury Import LP to near PERFECTION. This is High Fidelity Audiophile Demo Disc Quality Gold, with bells, drums, voices, trumpets, strings, woodwinds and more, all sounding so real it will take your breath away. This Golden Age tape has been mastered brilliantly with "modern" mastering equipment (from the mid-'60s, 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 of the music of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)


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Falla / Three Cornered Hat (Complete Ballet) / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fallathree_6224_2017) 



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

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


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Offenbach et al / French Overtures - Ansermet

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: offenfrenc_6205_2009) 



This Minty London Blueback LP has a WONDERFUL Tubey Magical Super Hot Stamper Side One. I have never heard this music sound better. Of course Ansermet is exactly the right conductor for these light and colorful orchestral pieces; the performances are uniformly superb.

But as audiophiles we want to make sure the sound is what it should be, and here side one does not disappoint. The string tone is perfection. I defy anyone to find a Heavy Vinyl reissue with string tone even remotely as good. In my experience there simply is no such record.

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


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Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade - Ansermet - Paris

Not the Ansermet Recording You Want

  (Item #: rimskscheh_paris) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

In our experience this is not the recording of the work to buy, on either Decca or London. Of the two recordings by Ansermet, we much prefer the one made with the Suisse Romande to that of the Paris Conservatoire.

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock


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Rimsky-Korsakov - The Tale of Tsar Saltan

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: rimsktaleo_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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Rimsky-Korsakov / Christmas Eve Suite / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: rimskchris_6036_2011) 



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


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Rimsky-Korsakov / Scheherazade / Ansermet / Suisse Romande

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: rimskscheh_6212_2015) 



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

We did a monster shootout for this music in 2014, one we had been planning for more than two years. On hand were quite a few copies of the Reiner on RCA; the Ansermet on London (CS 6212, his second stereo recording, from 1961, not the earlier and noticeably poorer sounding recording from in 1959); the Ormandy on Columbia, and a few others we felt had shown potential.

The only recordings that held up all the way through -- the fourth movement being THE Ball Breaker of all time, for both the engineers and musicians -- were those by Reiner and Ansermet.

More music conducted by Ernst Ansermet (1883-1969)


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Rimsky-Korsakov / The Tale of Tsar Saltan / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: rimsktaleo_6012_2011) 



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

This London Whiteback pressing contains a stunningly BEAUTIFUL Tale of the Tsar Saltan Suite. The sound is gorgeous. With a little more top end extension (check out our commentary about the triangle below) and more definition to the bottom end -- it would have been very hard to beat.

It's clearly one of the great Demo Disc Quality recordings from the Golden Age (or any age for that matter), with everything that a top Golden Age Orchestral recording should have: all the magic; all the timbral and harmonic subtlety; all the sweetness and warmth; all the Tubey Magical richness.

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock


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Rimsky-Korsakov / The Tale of Tsar Saltan / Ansermet

What to Listen For - The Triangle

  (Item #: rimsktaleo_6012_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your pressing of the album.

This is a work that makes extensive use of the triangle, and I don't know when I've ever heard a better recording of that instrument. (I think there are actually two being played.) It's incredibly sweet, detailed and extended, without calling attention to itself in an unnatural manner. When you hear it, you know it, and I'm hearing it in my head as this is being written.

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock


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

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: shostsym1_2016) 



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.

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


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Stravinsky - Petrushka - Ansermet

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: stravpetru_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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Stravinsky / The Firebird Suite / Ansermet

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: stravfireb_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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Tchaikovsky / Sleeping Beauty / Ansermet / 3 LP Box Set

  (Item #: tchaisleep_2304) 



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.

More music conducted by Ernst Ansermet (1883-1969)


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Tchaikovsky / Swan Lake / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tchaiswanl_2204_2012) 



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.

See more of Tchaikovsky's music


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Tchaikovsky / The Nutcracker - Ansermet

(Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: tchainutcr_2092) 



Sonic Grade: B?

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.

"Superb! New records just don’t sound any better! This is the complete Nutcracker Ballet as conducted by Ansermet for Decca, a record that sets a standard of performance and sound that is unlikely ever to be equaled, and almost certainly not to be surpassed."

More music conducted by Ernst Ansermet (1883-1969)


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