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Beethoven & Kodaly / Serenade & Duo / Heifetz, Piatigorsky

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: beethseren_2550_2013) 



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

This wonderfully quiet (for the most part) Shaded Dog pressing has EXCEPTIONALLY good sound for side two, which is where the Kodaly Duo for Violin and Cello can be found. Rarely have I heard these two instruments sound better than they do here. With a sonic grade of A++ to A+++, you can be sure the sound is right up there with the best of the classical recordings we have to offer.

The Beethoven on side one has many good qualities as well, but the acoustic in which it is performed is not nearly as good as that of this side two.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven - Symphony #5 - Monteux

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: beethsym5_1103_classic) 



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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Beethoven - Symphony #6 / Monteux

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: beethsym6_2316_2005) 



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

1S/ 6S Immaculate looking RCA Shaded Dog.

This is a lovely sounding record, with a smooth, natural top end, the opposite of a hi-fi spectacular. Some may find it dull, but it's actually correct.

Monteux has a wonderful feel for this symphony. His Beethoven in general is actually quite good. This music belongs in any serious collection. String tone is everything in the Pastoral, and Living Stereo gives you the string tone rarely found elsewhere.

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


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Beethoven - Symphony #9 - Solti (2 LPs)

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: beethsymph_mfsl) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Bright phony string tone, MoFi's trademark sound for classical recordings. Anyone who has ever attended a concert knows that strings in real life simply do not sound anything like they do on these MoFi records.

The London pressing of this recording is no great shakes either; any pressing should be avoided.

More music by Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / 'Appassionata' / Kamiya

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: beethappas_2010) 



A distinguished member of our Better Records Hall of Fame.

A famous resident of the TAS list, this album mixes beautiful music with lovely, solid piano tone, the best of both worlds for audiophiles. A friend of mine tells me that Kamiya plays this piece exactly the way Horowitz did, and that's probably a good thing. Good luck finding a Horowitz recording that sounds like this.

See more of our Direct to Disc recordings


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Beethoven / ’Kreutzer’ Sonata

Putting Your System to the (Violin and Piano) Test

  (Item #: beethkreut_2577_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating this kind of recording.

Do you want a recording that is going to put your system to the test? Well this is that record! That violin is REAL. As you compare equipment or tweak your system, you will hear the sound of that violin change and it should be obvious when it gets better and when it gets worse.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / 4th Movement of the Ninth Symphony / Mitzelfelt

  (Item #: beethodet0_65112) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Audiophile Recording debunked.

Can't find anything nice to say about this record.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Concerto No. 3 / Hendl / Graffman

Reviewed in 2014

  (Item #: beethpiano_2396_2014) 



This rare RCA Shaded Dog has SUPERB SOUND as well as a top performance. Super Hot Stampers for both sides means that this pressing has the real Living Stereo magic in spades. Unlike most of the RCA concerto recordings (Rubinstein's come immediately to mind in this regard), the brilliant soloist featured here is not overly spotlighted, hence the more credible "concert hall" sound. The piano is part of the orchestra, allowing all the contributions of the musicians to be heard clearly, with each of the orchestral sections laid out beautifully across an especially huge and deep Orchestra Hall stage.
More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Concerto No. 4 / Rubinstein / Krips

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: beethconce_2123_2011) 



This Super Hot Stamper pressing has superb RCA Living Stereo sound, with an exceptionally clear, solid, tonally correct piano.

We recently did a major shootout for all of Beethoven's Piano Concertos, pulling pressings from the three major Golden Age labels -- RCA, London, Mercury -- and this Fourth came out near the top of the heap. Most pressings of Rubinstein's Beethoven concertos simply do not have this kind of open, big and bold sound. Side one earned a grade of A++ and side two was actually a bit better at A++ to A+++. That makes this a very special piano recording indeed.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Famous Beethoven Overtures / Munchinger

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: beethfamou_6053_2011) 



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

This British London Blueback original pressing has better than A+ Hot Stamper sound on both sides. The music is lively and well-played, as one would expect from the venerable Karl Munchinger leading the Vienna Phil.

The sound is quite good but very different for each of the two sides. For more on the sound please see our notes below.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Haydn / The Heifetz - Piatigorsky Concerts

  (Item #: beethheife_2770_2010) 



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

This is a lovely sounding Red Seal pressing of cello and violin, with smooth, natural, tonally correct sound and correctly sized instruments, something you don't much on recordings of Heifetz, which tend to have huge violins and small orchestras. In these chamber works perhaps the engineers had an easier time of getting it right. The sound is transparent, spacious and three-dimensional in the best Living Stereo tradition.

If you love the sound of the violin and cello, played by virtuosos of the highest order, this is the record for you!

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


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Beethoven / Kreutzer & Spring Sonatas / Rubinstein

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: beethkreut_2377_2010) 



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

This Red Seal may be a reissue, but the sound is absolutely STUNNING on side two. The immediacy of the violin was simply in a league of its own, leaving all others in the dust. Add to that some of the sweetest, richest, most "rosiny" violin tone we've had the good fortune to hear, tonality that is as close to perfection as imaginable, and you have yourself one helluva great sounding work for piano and violin. The performances are extraordinary as well, as you might imagine from the likes of Szeryng and Rubinstein.

More recordings featuring the violin


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Beethoven / Kreutzer and Spring Sonatas / Rubinstein

Shaded Dogs Vs. Red Seals

  (Item #: beethkreut_shaded_dogs) 



The Shaded Dog original RCA pressings are the best, right?

Not in our experience. We think that's just another Record Myth.

In this listing for one of our Hot Stamper 2-packs we compare the sound of the originals (which tend to be crude, veiled, recessed and a bit smeary) with the reissues, which can be awful or wonderful depending on which side of which copy you are playing.

More recordings featuring the violin


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Beethoven / Kreutzer Sonata / Heifetz / Rubinstein

Cisco Debunked

  (Item #: beethkreut_cisco_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex.

The Cisco pressing of LSC 2577 is not acceptable on any level. There is no violinist in front of you when you play their record. There is someone back behind your speakers under a thick blanket, and his violin sure doesn't sound very much like a real violin -- no rosiny texture, no harmonics, no real body. I am proud to say we rejected the record when it was released and never carried it. (The Cisco Peer Gynt was every bit as bad.)

More recordings featuring the violin


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Beethoven / Piano Concerto No.1 / Richter / Munch

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: beethpiano_2544_2012) 



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

As you may know, this is a ridiculously difficult Shaded Dog to find in clean condition. Its companion, the Brahms disc with Richter (LSC 2466), is ten times more common and not half as good.

This pressing has the real Living Stereo magic in spades, but unlike most of the RCA concerto recordings, Richter, the brilliant soloist featured here, is not overly spotlighted, hence the much more natural "concert hall" sound.

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


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Beethoven / Piano Sonatas / Backhaus

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: beethsonat_6535_2008) 



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

CS 6535. This is the best sounding Backhaus LP I've ever heard. The piano is natural and full bodied, as would be expected from the Decca engineers of the day. They were still making good records in 1967, when RCA had gone Dynagroove.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Quartet in C-Sharp Minor / Julliard String Quartet

  (Item #: beethquart_LSC2626_2013) 



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

This RCA White Dog pressing contains what many consider to be Beethoven's greatest string quartet, with SUPERB better than Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides, each of which rated grades of A++ to A+++. The reason we held back on the full Three Plus White Hot Stamper designation is simple: each side had slightly more of a fairly important quality that the other side lacked. When you play this record at home see if you don't agree with us that this is an AMAZING sounding chamber music record, with minor, albeit recognizable and appreciable, differences in its strengths on each side.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Septet In E Minor / Members of the Vienna Octet

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: beethsepte_6132_2012) 



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

We rarely put the effort into finding top quality pressings of chamber music that we do for the large orchestral works favored by audiophiles, works such as Scheherazade and The Planets. However, if more of them sounded as good as this one, and played as quietly, we would be more than happy to do just that.

My first note on side one is "HTF" -- Hard To Fault, for the sound was both rich and sweet, with easily recognized, unerringly correct timbres for all seven of the instruments which are heard in the work. The legendary 1959 Decca Tree microphone setup had worked its magic once again.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Symphonies 8 & 9 (Choral Symphony) - Giulini

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: beethsym8_9) 



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

SLS 841. Two fairly quiet (for EMI anyway) LPs with BIG SOUND -- the kind of sound this work demands. This is obviously a huge orchestra and chorus. It sure sounds like it anyway. The production is first class all the way. The soloists sound particularly real, surrounded by dozens of other musicians in a big hall. I like the way Giulini plays this as well.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Symphony #1 and #8 / Ansermet

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: beethsym1-8_2011) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper side one London Whiteback LP (CS 6388) gives you a wonderful sounding Beethoven First Symphony. It's rich, sweet and Tubey Magical in the tradition of all the best Ansermet recordings from the era.

Unfortunately the second side with the 8th Symphony is awful -- hard, shrill and definitely not worth your time.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Symphony #4 / Monteux

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: beethsymph4_2011) 



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

BOTH sides of this early Plum Label Victrola pressing earned a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade, with the kind of string tone only found on the best of the Living Stereo releases and other top quality Golden Age recordings. Here is the kind of sound that Classic Records could not ignore, even though it was only ever made available as part of RCA's budget reissue series, Victrola. Don't let its budget status fool you -- this pressing puts to shame most of what came out on the full price Living Stereo label.

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


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Beethoven / Symphony #4 / Monteux

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: beethsymph4_debunk) 



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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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 #7 / Reiner

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: beethsymph7_0411) 



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

This somewhat rare and fairly quiet White Dog pressing has lovely vintage Golden Age sound from 1958, comparable to the sound you hear on many early Londons and RCAs from that era.

On both sides the famous Living Stereo soundstage is wide and deep as usual.

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


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Beethoven / Symphony 6 ’Pastoral’ / Monteux

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: beethsymph6_1070_2012) 



Both sides of this Plum Victrola have better than Hot Stamper sound (A+ to A++), on this lovely sounding Living Stereo recording from 1959. The top end is smooth and natural, the opposite of a hi-fi spectacular. Some may find it dull, but it's actually correct -- live music doesn't really have the top end that orchestral recordings usually do.

Monteux has a wonderful feel for this symphony. His Beethoven in general is actually quite good. String tone is everything in the Pastoral, and here the Living Stereo engineers give you the rich, resonant strings rarely found on other labels.

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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Beethoven / The Emperor Concerto / Backhaus

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: beethemper_6156_2010) 



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

Another top London, recorded with more of a mid-hall approach, and smooth sound that reminds me much more of a live concert than most records. This is a demo quality disc, if what you are demonstrating is the kind of realistic piano sound and natural, relaxed presentation found in the concert hall. These may not be qualities that all audiophiles appreciate, but we sure as hell do.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / The Five Beethoven Concertos / Rubinstein

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: beethfiveb_6702_2011) 



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

This original Shaded Dog Five Disc Box Set (LSC 6902) contains all five of Beethoven's Piano Concertos, with sound that's predictably all over the map, from White Hot to Not-So-Hot and every grade in between. Yes folks, we actually listened to every one of these sides in a shootout with other RCA, London and Mercury pressings of the same music.

The best sound in the set was clearly the Third Piano Concerto, which had sides that were Super Hot and White Hot.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Violin Concerto / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: beethvioli_1992_2011) 



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

This White Dog Living Stereo pressing has SUPERB sound on side one. It's alive and immediate in a way that the Shaded Dogs almost never are. Listen to the violin! Again, the Classic pressing of this recording does not present the listener with the sound of a real, wood instrument bowed by horsehair in physical space. This copy does.

The White Dog pressing we are offering here is not as rich as the better Shaded Dog pressings we played in our shootout but in some ways the brighter, more forward presentation actually works to its advantage.

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


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Beethoven / Violin Concerto / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: beethvioli_1992_2017) 



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

The reproduction of the violin here is superb -- harmonically rich, natural, clean, clear, resolving. What sets the truly killer pressings apart is the depth, width and three-dimensional quality of the sound, as well as the fact that they become less congested in the louder passages and don't get shrill or blary. The best copies display a Tubey Magical richness -- especially evident in the basses and celli -- that is to die for.

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


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Beethoven / Violin Concerto in D / Heifetz

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: beethvioli_1992_classic_records) 



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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Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: beethtrios_2563_2013) 



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

This Red Seal pressing of the famous 1961 recording (LSC 2563) has SUBLIME White Hot Stamper sound for one of the works contained herein, the Schubert. It's so rich and sweet you may have a hard time believing it's on a Red Seal LP. The originals we've played over the years sure never sounded like this! Perhaps it's the thin vinyl that contributed to the shockingly good sound. Maybe, just maybe, RCA was right to start pressing thinner records in the '70s. If they can sound this good, we should all be for it.

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


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Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Trios / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky

On the Red Seal Label?

  (Item #: beethtrios_reissue) 



So often when we do these shootouts involving original pressings up against their reissue counterparts, it's the reissues that sound rich, warm and tubey, and the originals that sound dry and boxy. If you haven't noticed that in your own critical listening, play this record against any shaded dog that you own and see which one is more Tubey Magical.

If you have your VTA set right, you might be shocked to find it's this one. Don't get us wrong; lots of these later RCA pressings are awful: thin, often with no top end at all. Flat transfers perhaps? Who is to say?

More Living Stereo


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Beethoven/ ’Kreutzer’ Sonata & Bach/ Concerto... / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: beethkreut_2577_2009) 



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

This beautiful 1S/1S first pressing in excellent condition has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND -- on both sides!

This is the kind of record on which the RCA reputation is based. They're not kidding -- this is truly LIVING STEREO SOUND at its best.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven/ Piano Concerto No. 3 - Gamba

  (Item #: beethpc3_gamba) 



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

CS 6096 Blueback LP. This is one of the RAREST and BEST Londons I have ever heard. I think this is the first copy I ever played and it's absolutely WONDERFUL. The sound is London at its best. What's especially striking is the quality of the piano -- it's absolute perfection. The quiet vinyl actually lets you hear the quietest piano parts clearly, no mean feat when it comes to Golden Age recordings. I don't know of a better Beethoven 3rd -- this one sets the standard for me.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven/ Quartets in F Minor & F Major 25 Julliard

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: beethquart_2632) 



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

Red Seal. This string quartet sounds like it''s in your living room. Has that immediacy that Mercury is famous for. Many of RCA''s chamber recordings are excellent and unfortunately for us record lovers they are quite rare.

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


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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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Favorite Beethoven Concertos / Heifetz & Rubinstein / BSO

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: beethconce_7087_2007) 



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

RCA Red Seal LPs. DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND!

The first LP of this disc is the equivalent of LSC 1992 and sounds AMAZING. The mastering is right on the money.

This compilation was created in 1971. The tapes were still good then, because the transparency of this pressing is top notch. I wish I could say as much for the second record, which, like most of these reissues, is a disaster. It should go without saying that the LP here KILLS the Classic Records reissue.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Frames of Reference, Carefully Conducted Shootouts and Critical Listening

  (Item #: beethsepte_shootouts) 



The sound we were hearing on this copy during a recent shootout was both rich and sweet, with easily recognized, unerringly correct timbres for all seven of the instruments heard in the work. The legendary 1959 Decca Tree microphone setup had worked its magic once again. And, as good as it was, we were surprised to discover that side two was actually even better! The sound was more spacious and more transparent. We asked ourselves, how is this even possible?

Hard to believe but side two had the sound that was TRULY Hard To Fault. This is precisely what careful shootouts and critical listening are all about. If you like Heavy Vinyl, what exactly is your frame of reference? How many good early pressings could you possibly own, and how were they cleaned?

More Shootout Advice


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Milstein / Master pieces / Susskind

Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: variomaste_2013) 



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

This is a RARE and WONDERFUL SOUNDING original Capitol pressing of Milstein playing pieces for violin and orchestra by Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Saint-Saens and others. The recording of the Mozart Rondo on side one boasts DEMO DISC quality sound. Side one is amazingly rich, sweet and tubey magical. The violin is tonally correct, with the kind of immediacy few violin records (in our experience) manage to capture as well, while still retaining the correct size of the instrument.

See all of our pressings with Nathan Milstein performing


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Philippe Entremont - Ritual Fire Dance

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: fallaritua_2011) 



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

An undiscovered gem from 1967 on 360 Columbia! Side two of this record blew our minds with its White Hot Stamper sound. Musically and sonically this record is nothing short of wonderful. Who knew? You could play fifty vintage piano recordings and not find one as good as this!

Tchaicovsky, Liszt, Beethoven, Debussy, Mozart -- these shorter pieces and excerpts were composed by those with the greatest gift for melody, men who've produced works that have stood the test of time, enchanting audiences over the centuries with works of such beauty and charm.

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


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Various / Heart of the Piano Concerto - Rubinstein

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: varioheart_2495_2008) 



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

This is an EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD SOUNDING Shaded Dog pressing with fairly quiet vinyl. What''s surprising about this is how transparent and low distortion it is. Just as with Destination Stereo (LSC 2307), the excerpts here frequently sound better than they do on the original complete performances. Rubenstein's piano is solid and clear sounding, which is rarely the case, especially for his Beethoven concertos. Those almost never sound good, but the excerpt here for Concerto #3 is excellent.

More Living Stereo


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