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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Liszt / Piano Concertos 1 & 2 / Kondrashin / Richter

  (Item #: lisztpiano_1908_1) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • This pressing has nearly White Hot Stamper (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides, just shy of our big Shootout Winners
  • The finest Liszt 1st and 2nd Piano Concertos we know of for their performances, and unquestionably for sonics (when the sonics are this good!)
  • More like LIVE MUSIC than any classical recording I have played in longer than I care to remember
  • So big, rich and transparent we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto recording (unless you already one of our White Hot copies!)
More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1886)


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Super Hot Stamper

Liszt / Piano Concertos 1 & 2 / Kondrashin / Richter

  (Item #: lisztpiano_1910) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An outstanding pressing of superb classical works, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • With lively, present piano and a smooth, full sounding orchestra, this is just the right sound for this music
  • The finest Liszt 1st and 2nd Piano Concertos we know of for their performances, and unquestionably for sonics (when the sonics are this good!)
  • So big, rich and transparent we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto recording (unless you already one of our White Hot copies!)
More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1886)


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Chopin / Fantasy - Impromptu, more / Philippe Entremont

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: chopifanta_2014) 



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

The subtitle of the album reads Philippe Entremont Plays Best-Loved Piano Pieces.

After hearing this one as well as another exceptionally good sounding copy, we would like to amend that to Philippe Entremont Plays the Hell Out of These Best-Loved Piano Pieces.

Truly this is an undiscovered gem from Columbia in 1966.

More of the music of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)


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Everything But the Beer / Fiedler Conducts a Boston Pops Concert

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: varioevery_6082_2012) 



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

This VERY RARE 2 LP Shaded Dog pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound. Much of what's good about Golden Age recordings is heard here, with side one for example having the sound of a HUGE hall and that Three-Dimensional quality that the best vintage recordings are able to convey so well.

We constantly knock Heavy Vinyl here at Better Records for the simple reason that we play vintage recordings such as this by the score every month and can hear what they do so well. Unfortunately the huge hall and the 3-D soundstaging they effortlessly reproduce cannot be found on any Heavy Vinyl pressing we know of.

See more recordings conducted by Arthur Fiedler


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Grieg & Liszt / Piano Concertos / Rubinstein

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: griegpiano_2011) 



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

The strings are RICH in the best Living Stereo tradition, but unlike so many classical pressings we play, the tubey magical string tone comes with virtually no tube smear. The textures and overtones are fully intact. This side may in fact be pretty much as good as it gets; we don't have enough copies to know just how good the recording can be, but it can't be too much better than this, because this side puts most Golden Age classical recordings to shame.

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


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JS Bach and Liszt / Organ Music / Richter

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: bach_organ_6172_2007) 



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

This is a Minty looking London Red Label LP with Virtually No Sign Of Play (VNSOP).

You can feel the cool air in the hall! Some audiophiles buy organ records to show off their subwoofers. Records like this can do that but records this good have musical qualities far beyond simple demonstrations of bass reproduction. Karl Richter understands this music perfectly and makes it come alive in a way I've never heard any other musician.

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach


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Liszt & Weber / Ballade No. 2, Mephisto Waltz, more / Bar-Illan

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: lisztpiano_audiofon_2011) 



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

The Liszt side here actually has the best sound. This is one of the few audiophile-oriented recordings I have ever played that actually sounded NATURAL and CORRECT. This is a very real sounding piano; there are not many recordings that can capture that instrument's weight, but this one sure does.

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


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Liszt - Les Preludes / Wagner - Various / Mehta

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: lisztlespr_6529_2013) 



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

This London UK pressing (not the Decca as shown in the picture) vinyl from 1967 has Hot Stamper sound on both sides. Some of what we've always liked about Decca/London from the period (mid- to late-'60s, in this case 1967) can be heard on this pressing: transparency; the texture on the strings; the natural timbre of the instruments.

These London pressings are quite hard to find in our experience. The music is wonderful throughout, perhaps the reason that so few of these have found their way to the record bins here in L.A.

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


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Liszt - Preludes / Wagner - Various / Mehta

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: lisztprelu_6298_2013) 



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

This Unboxed Decca Deep Groove UK pressing on heavyweight vinyl from 1967 has Super Hot Stamper sound on side one. This is the side that has Les Preludes in its entirety, and what a powerful piece of music it is.

Much of what we like about Decca/London from the period (mid- to late-'60s, in this case 1967) can be heard on this pressing: the wonderful transparency; the richly textured lower strings; the natural timbre of the instruments. If only side two sounded as good!

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


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Liszt / Les Preludes / Dorati

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: lisztlespr_90214_2008) 



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

This copy with Philips stampers has a fairly quiet and good sounding side one, which is the work by Smetana and A Night On Bald Mountain. Side two is thin and bright. Dorati is excellent on material like this and plays it with great verve.

Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Antal Dorati. This performance also includes Smetana's "The Moldau", Mussorgsky's "Night On Bald Mountain", and Sibelius' "Valse Triste".

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


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Liszt / Piano Concertos 1 & 2 / Arrau / Davis

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: lisztconce_arrau_2011) 



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

SUPERB orchestral sound on side one, dramatically better than what you might expect from the typical Philips import pressing. The sound is BIG, rich, clear and present for the first piano concerto. The piano is percussive and weighty, and the strings have lovely texture -- this is Top Quality Sound. You know it when you hear it! We rated side one Super Hot: A++. No other side of any copy in our shootout scored higher.

See more of Franz Liszt's music in stock


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Liszt / Piano Concertos No. 1 and 2 / Kondrashin / Richter

Awful Mercury Mastering

  (Item #: lisztpiano_philips) 



Sonic Grade: F

An Orchestral Hall of Shame pressing.

This recording was released through Mercury, recorded by Robert Fine and Wilma Cozart, mastered by George Piros, the legendary Mercury team of renown. It is instructive to note that the Philips mastering is dramatically superior to the mediocre Mercury mastering, which may strike you as counterintuitive, but is nonetheless a fact. It's precisely the reason we play records all day here at Better Records. You can't judge a record by its credentials. The only way to know how it sounds is to play it, and to really know how it sounds you must play it against a sizeable number of other copies.

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


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Liszt / Piano Concertos No. 1 and 2 / Richter

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: lisztpiano_2016) 



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

This A++++ Beyond White Hot Stamper 2-pack has sound that must be experienced to be believed! The finest Liszt 1st & 2nd Concertos we know of for performance and unquestionably for sound when they sound like this. More like LIVE MUSIC than any classical recording I have played in longer than I care to remember - both sides are so big, rich and transparent we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto.

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


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Liszt / Sonata in B Minor & Other Pieces / Curzon

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: lisztsonat_6371_2011) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper solo piano record is 1963 Decca recording technology at its finest (or would be if we had ten copies to shoot out and could find the White Hot Stamper pressing hidden among them). As it is, we are happy to have found this one, Super Hot on both sides, an amazingly realistic representation of a piano. You will have a hard time finding better.

And the music, especially on side two, is compelling and wonderful. This is classical music that will engage you at the deepest and most serious level. Widely considered Liszt's masterpiece, in Curzon's forceful hands it is not hard to understand why.

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


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Liszt / Sonata in B Minor & Other Pieces / Curzon

Speakers Corner Debunked

  (Item #: lisztsonat_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: F

More vinyl dreck from Speakers Corner and a Hall of Shame pressing if there ever was one. Pure mud.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Orchestral Music Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

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


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Liszt / The Music of Franz Liszt / Fiedler

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: lisztmusic_2442_2010) 



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

The rich, textured, rosin-on-the-bow lower strings on this record are to die for. Find me a modern record that sounds like this and I will eat it, and by "modern record" we hasten to include both modern recordings and modern remasterings of older recordings. NO ONE alive today can make a record that sound even remotely like this.

To call it a lost art is to understand something that few vinyl-loving audiophiles appear to have grasped since the advent of the Modern Reissue, which is simply this: they don't sound as good.

More of Franz Liszt's music in stock


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Liszt, Enesco, Smetana / Rhapsodies - Stokowski

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: lisztrhaps_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The lower strings are wonderful on the original -- wall to wall, with that rosiny texture we love. I wrote at the time -- this is twenty or so years ago -- that the Classic pressing took that rich, dark sound and brightened it up, naturally ruining it in the process. Cellos and double basses just don't sound like that. On the best pressings of LSC 2471 their timbre is Right On The Money. Of course, that's is the real thing, not some audiophile rebutchering.

Now if you're a Classic Records fan, and you like that brighter, more detailed, more aggressive sound, the original is probably not the record for you.


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Liszt, Enesco, Smetana / Rhapsodies - Stokowski

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: lisztrhaps_2471_2010) 



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

This RCA Living Stereo White Dog LP has SUPERB SOUND!

I'm a big fan of this title. The string tone is rich and dark and just wonderful. If you want an exciting record with outstanding Living Stereo sound -- dynamic, with strings to die for, and an energetic performance, this is the one! Don't let the White Dog fool you. I doubt if the average Shaded Dog is any better. This record sounds just right to me. Listen to how clear and correct the triangle is.

See all of our Living Stereo albums in stock


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Liszt, Khatchaturian et al. / Fiedler / BPO

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: lisztliebe_2546_2015) 



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

Breathtaking 1961 Living Stereo sound on side two - huge, open and Tubey Magical as all get out. Living Stereo Hot Stampers mean the hall is huge, the strings rich and sweetly textured. Vaughan Williams' arrangement of Fantasia On "Greensleeves" is especially lovely here. Fiedler and his Boston Pops play these 8 shorter pieces with great gusto and skill.

See more recordings conducted by Arthur Fiedler


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Mussorgsky on Vinyl

Three that Didn't Make the Grade

  (Item #: Mussorgsky) 



These are just some of the recordings of the music of Mussorgsky that we've auditioned and found wanting. Without going into specifics we'll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place on our site, in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

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

Hot Stamper Pressings of Mussorgsky's Music

Pressings of Mussorgsky's Music We've Reviewed



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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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Rachmaninoff & Liszt / Favorite Classics for Piano / Pennario

Reviewed in 2014

  (Item #: rachmfavor_2014) 



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

White Hot Stamper sound on side two of this solo piano recording. It's big, rich and above all REAL sounding, with natural studio space. The legendary soloist Leonard Pennario is presented here at the height of his powers. Superb choice of material, from Clair De Lune to Liebestraum to the Hungarian Rhapsody No . 2.

On the rare Stereo pressing of course -- we want to hear all that studio space reproduced, just as your two ears would have heard it (more or less).

More of Franz Liszt's music in stock


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Saint-Saens et al. - Danse Macabre

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: saintdanse_2011) 



This is a Decca reissue that just happens to have the material found on one of the most famous and sought-after Shaded Dog pressings in the world, Witches' Brew, along with another track added, The Sorcerer's Apprentice conducted by Ansermet. (As a budget reissue they felt they needed to give you more music in order to get you to buy performances that were no longer current.)

This pressing is tonally much more natural from top to bottom. I used to think that it was the best way to hear the music on Witches' Brew. Like so much of what happens in the world of records, it is and it isn't.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens


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Set-up Discs, Part One

Start with a Large Scale Orchestral Recording

  (Item #: setup_orchestral_recording) 



Classical music is surely the ultimate test for proper turntable/arm/cartridge set-up. The Liszt recording you see pictured is a superb choice for adjusting tracking weight, VTA, azimuth and the like.

One of the reasons $10,000+ front ends exist is to play large scale, complex, difficult-to-reproduce music such as Liszt’s two piano concertos. You don’t need to spend that kind of money to play this record, but if you choose to, it would surely be the kind of record that can show you the sound your tens of thousands of dollars has paid for.

More Set-Up Advice / More Audio Advice


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Sibelius, Liszt, Dukas et al. / Bernard Herrmann Conducts

London Phase 4 Debunked

  (Item #: sibelberna_phase_4) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing.

While preparing for a Finlandia shootout recently we happened to drop the needle on this album, a 1977 Phase 4 recording made in Kingsway Hall and engineered by Arthur Lilley. We could hardly believe how bad it sounded. The multi-miking is the worst I have ever heard! We like lots of Phase 4 recordings -- especially those of Bernard Herrmann -- but this is definitely not one of them.

More of the music of Bernard Herrmann


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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 Not So "Golden Age" of RCA, Mercury, London and more

  (Item #: rca_golden_age) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning music and recordings.

We ran into a number of copies of this title that had what we like to call that "Old Record" sound, which is surprisingly common on even the most revered Golden Age labels, RCA included.

No top, no real bottom, congested climaxes and an overall shrillness to the sound -- we've played Living Stereos by the dozens that have these shortcomings and many more. Some audiophiles may be impressed by the average Shaded Dog pressing, but I can assure you that we here at Better Records are decidedly not of that persuasion. Something in the range of ten to fifteen per cent of the major label Golden Age recordings we play will eventually make it to the site. The vast majority just don't sound all that good to us.


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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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Various / Witches' Brew / Gibson

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: variowitch_2225_2007) 



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

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND, of a sort. As I've said elsewhere on the site, this is not my idea of natural tonality.

As for the music, I have long held that the Danse Macabre on this album is the best ever. I probably still agree with that, but so much of the material on this record is amazingly good that that's actually kind of a left-handed compliment. The entire side 2 is outstanding from start to finish.

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


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