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Chabrier / Espana & Rimsky-Korsakov / Argenta

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: chabrespan_6006_2013) 



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

This London Whiteback (CS 6006) TAS List Super Disc really IS a Super Disc, with SUPERB SUPER Hot Stamper sound on both sides. It easily bested the Blueback we put up against it, and most of the pressings of Ansermet's performance on London/Decca that we like (CS 6438).

What this album has going for it over the London/Decca with Ansermet is an out of this world Capriccio Espagnol, with the kind of orchestral color and excitement that rivals the composer's Scheherazade and arguably exceeds it, compressing as it does its bright orchestration into fewer than 15 minutes of unalloyed brilliance.

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


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Heavy Vinyl Reviews

Obvious Differences Don't Seem to Register

  (Item #: rimskscheh_reviews) 



There is a newly remastered 33 RPM pressing of the album which has garnered rave reviews in the audiophile press. We have played it and will report our findings at the appropriate time.

Have you noticed that in many of the reviews for the new pressing, the original used for comparison is a Shaded Dog? In our experience almost no Shaded Dog pressings are competitive with the better White Dog pressings, and many of them are just plain awful, as we have mentioned previously on the site. At best one out of three would qualify to be offered as a Hot Stamper; most simply would not make the cut.

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


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MS 6069

A Columbia Record We Can't Recommend

  (Item #: rimsk_6069) 



Another recording that we auditioned and found wanting. Without going into too many specifics, we'll just say the album suffers from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore deserves a place in our Hall of Shame.

The performance here is far too slow to be taken seriously.

A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.

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


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Music of Old Russia / Milstein / Irving

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: tchaimusic_2013) 



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

This rare, hard to find original Blue Angel stereo pressing has exquisite sound. As we noted in our listing for Milstein's Saint-Saens Third, it is the rare Heifetz album on Shaded Dog (or any other label) that could hope to compete with it.

We would rank this Angel recording/pressing with the best of Rabin and Milstein on Capitol, as well as the wonderful Ricci and Campoli discs on London/Decca.

The transparency of both sides lets you "see" the orchestra clearly, without sacrificing richness or weight.

More of the music of Tchaikovsky


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Mussorgsky et al. / Night On Bare Mountain CS 6785 / Solti

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: mussonight_6785_2012) 



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

Released as Romantic Russia by Decca in 1967, this London can also be found with a different cover and a different catalog number, CS 6503.

DEMO QUALITY SOUND on side one -- in some ways. Don't go looking for the Tubey Magic of an earlier era. What you get instead is super-low distortion, full-bandwidth sound with deep powerful bass and more transparency than most later Londons.

Solti is clearly the man for this music! He's on fire with this fiery material. THIS is the way you want to hear Russian Orchestral Showpieces -- played with verve and dynamically ALIVE.

More of the music of Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)


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Rimsky-Korsakoff / Scheherazade / Reiner (LSC 2446)

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: rimskscheh_2446_2014) 



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

White Hot on Side One! Big brass, so full-bodied and dynamic. The solo violin is present and so real you will not believe it. The highest resolution we have ever heard for this performance. Hard To Fault (HTF).

This copy is huge in every dimension, just as all the best ones always are, with maximum amounts of height, width, and depth. The transparency is also superb -- you really hear into this one in the way that only the best Living Stereos (and other golden age recordings) will allow.

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock


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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 - Scheherazade - Ansermet

  (Item #: rimskscheh_london_mono) 



This is a WONDERFUL SOUNDING London Mono LP with a SUPERB performance by Ansermet and the Suisse Romande. You will not believe the power of the brass at the opening of side one. It makes most stereo recordings sound positively anemic.

Most of the time, the surfaces are pretty good, especially for an old London, but I would grade this record overall as M-- as there are some slightly noisy passages. Part of the problem is that this record is EXTREMELY dynamic, so there is a tendency to have the volume up too high for some of the quiet passages where the surface noise is more noticeable.

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock


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Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade - Reiner

Chesky Records Debunked

  (Item #: rimskscheh_chesky) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Record and another Remastered Audiophile Pressing debunked.

Chesky is one of the WORST AUDIOPHILE LABELS in the history of the world. Their recordings are so artificial and "wrong" that they defy understanding. That some audiophiles actually buy into this junk sound is equal parts astonishing and depressing. Their own records are a joke, and their remasterings of the RCA Living Stereo catalog are an abomination. If there is a more CLUELESS audiophile label on the planet, I don't know who it could be, and I don't want to find out.

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


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Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: rimskscheh_classic_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

In 2009 or 2010, during our testing of the TT Weights turntable products, the record I played again and again -- close to a hundred times over the course of two days -- was a wonderful White Dog pressing of LSC 2446. The sound was glorious, some of the best reproduction of large orchestra I have ever heard.

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 / Capriccio Espagnol / Black / London Fest.

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rimskcapri_black_2013) 



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

AN AMAZING A++++ SIDE TWO, presenting the complete work by Rimsky-Korsakov. The Capriccio Espagnol here is one of THE BEST on record. Not only does it have incredibly powerful DEMO DISC sound, but the performance is superb on every level as well. The energy and excitement of the piece are brought to life by Stanley Black and the London Festival Orchestra like no other you have ever heard.

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


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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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Tchaikovsky / Capriccio Italien / Black

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: tchaicapri_21004_2013) 



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

The Capriccio Espagnol here is one of THE BEST on record. Not only does it have incredibly powerful DEMO DISC sound, but the performance is superb on every level as well. The energy and excitement of the piece are brought to life by Stanley Black and the London Festival Orchestra like no other you have ever heard.

This beyond White Hot Stamper may make you reevaluate virtually every classical recording in your collection. The energy, size, scope and immediacy found on this Four Plus copy is easily superior to that of any other recording of the work we have ever heard!

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov


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Tchaikovsky / Capriccio Italien / Ormandy

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: tchaicapri_6917_2010) 



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

This is a CBS White Arrows "360 Sound" LP with DEMO DISC sound and the BEST performance we have ever heard. In our experience there is no combination of sound and performance that can beat Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra captured on this Columbia record. Ormandy is on fire here! As good as the famous Kondrashin on RCA is (LSC 2323), the sound on both the Shaded Dog copies we had on hand and the Classic Records reissue (which is very good by the way) could not begin to match this wonderful pressing.

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


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Various Artists - Destination Stereo

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: variodesti_2015) 



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

Side one is White Hot, with some of the best 1959 Living Stereo we've ever heard. Explosive dynamics, HUGE space and size, with unerringly correct tonality, this is a Demo Disc like no other. When "in -the-know" audiophiles discuss soundstaging and depth, they had better be talking about a record that sounds like this. Shockingly real - proof positive that the cutting systems of the day are capable of much better sound than we normally assume.

More Living Stereo


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