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Barney Kessel - Barney Kessel Plays Carmen (Stereo)

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: kessebarne_stereo_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This original Black Label Contemporary stereo LP has a STUNNING side two! Barney Kessel Plays Carmen is one of our favorite jazz guitar recordings of all time, and on a copy like this the sound is absolutely KILLER.

As you can see from looking at the condition notes, this copy is quieter than any other we have listed to from our recent shootout. Fifties jazz doesn't play much better than this copy right here.

More Barney Kessel


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Bizet & Saint-Saens / Carmen Fantasie / Ricci - Gamba

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bizetcarme_6165) 



This London Whiteback LP has DEMO DISC sound like you will not believe, especially on side two, which earned our coveted A Triple Plus rating. The sound is warm, sweet and transparent; in short, absolutely GORGEOUS. We call it AGAIG -- As Good As It Gets!

As this is one of the Greatest Violin Showpiece Albums of All Time, it is certainly a record that belongs in every right-thinking audiophle's collection. (If you're on our site and taking the time to read this, that probably means you.) Ruggiero Ricci is superb throughout.

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


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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 - Bernstein (3 LP Box Set)

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: bizetcarme_1) 



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

TAS List. Three Minty looking DG German Import LPs with big, beautiful sound.

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


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Bizet / Carmen / Gould

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: bizetcarme_2437_2006) 



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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND, if what you're demonstrating is the three dimensional quality of Living Stereo recordings. Amazing depth and width can be heard on this record. And the music is sublime.

I confess I somewhat misjudged this title. Yes, the opening is compressed, which led me to think that the entire record was compressed, but that's not true. In some ways it's quite dynamic. The quiet portions are very quiet; in a couple of places there are just horns playing off in the deep distance, followed by some flutes, and they sound very natural, just as you would hear them in a concert hall.

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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Bizet-Shchedrin / Carmen Ballet Suite / Rozhdestvensky

Alto Heavy Vinyl Debunked

  (Item #: bizetcarme_alto_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

Alto records did this title on 180 gram more than a decade ago, and it was a COMPLETE DISASTER. Those of you getting our catalogs in the '90s when that record came around were warned not to buy it. I was lucky enough to own a very good original pressing of it at the time, which of course made it all too easy to recognize just how poorly the new pressing had been mastered. No criticisms of the quality of the mastering were offered in the audiophile press however, not that I saw anyway. And every major audiophile record dealer carried it. Funny how some things never change.

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


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Bizet-Shchedrin / Carmen Ballet Suite / Rozhdestvensky

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: bizetcarme_melodiya_2011) 



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

This White Hot Stamper copy of Bizet's Carmen, rearranged by Soviet composer Rodion Shchedrin for strings and 47 percussion instruments, has two AMAZING sides back to back, which makes it only the second copy of this quality to ever hit the site, and the first to do so in two years.

Demo Quality Sound barely begins to do it justice. If you have the system to play it, this copy is a KNOCKOUT.

More of the music of Georges Bizet


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Ibert / Divertissement / Martinon

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: ibertdiver_2011) 



This London LP has a very good A+ to A++ side two. Lively and not too bright with nice space and clarity, the Jeux D'Enfants is very enjoyable. Le Rouet D'Omphale (the Spinning Wheel) which follows is even better! Natural and dynamic with rich strings, the tonality is wonderfully balanced.

Performed with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra under Jean Martinon, this record also features Bizet's Jeux D'Enfants and Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre and Le Rouet D'Omphale.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens


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Set-up Discs, Part Two

Dialing in the Anti-Skate

  (Item #: setup_anti-skate) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

I once adjusted my anti-skate while playing this very album, at the time dialing it in to a "T". Over the years I've found that the best test for fine anti-skate adjustment is massed strings, and not just at the end of a side but right at the beginning too.

When you have all the rosiny texture, the high-end harmonic extension, the least shrillness and the widest and deepest staging, you are there, assuming that tracking weight, azimuth and VTA are correct as well.

More Set-Up Advice / More Audio Advice


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What We Listen For

Timbre, Richness, Tubey Magic and Freedom from Artificiality

  (Item #: kessebarne_listen) 



This Home Audio Exercise entry was inspired by the wonderful qualities of the Contemporary recording you see pictured, qualities brought to our attention while doing a shootout of various pressings of the album in early 2009.

We addressed a number of issues in our commentary: first and foremost what we were listening for on the album (and what we were hearing). A bit of mono versus stereo (in this case both can be good). This is followed by some Audiophile Equipment bashing.

More Contemporary jazz


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