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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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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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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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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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Mussorgsky et al. - Danse Infernale

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: mussodanse_2009) 



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

It took two copies -- one for side one, one for side two -- to find two sides this good. We love this album but most copies are unbelievably dreadful. (Actually, if you’ve played a fair number of DG recordings over the years you might not have any trouble believing how bad the average one is, so I take that back.)

This German Import has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND -- of a kind. Being a DG recording, one of the things you won’t be demonstrating with this record is natural string tone -- it’s just not part of the DG sound. But, this record is ALIVE.

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


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Ravel, Saint-Saens et al. / Tzigane, Havanaise / Kyung-Wha Chung

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: raveltziga_7073_2012) 



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

This 1979 London original English pressing of violin showpieces has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, which came as a bit of a shock to us after playing side one, which is as congested and opaque as one would expect from such a late London recording. Side two is fabulous -- full-bodied, rich and sweet. Even though it may have been recorded in 1977, the engineer is Kenneth Wilkinson, and the hall is Kingsway -- not many bad recordings can be attributed to either.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Saint-Saens - Carnival of the Animals

180g Klavier Debunked

  (Item #: saintcarni_debunk_2015) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

Yet another murky, smeary Audiophile Piece of Trash from the mastering lathe of the formerly brilliant Doug Sax. He used to cut the best sounding records in the world. Then he started working for AP and to my knowledge hasn't cut a good sounding record since.

For those of us who remember his consistently superb work in the '70s, we sadly note that he passed away in 2015. I was honored to have met him a few years back at a Chopin concert performed by Lincoln Mayorga.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens


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Saint-Saens - Danse Macabre / Ravel, Debussy, Chabrier

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: saintdanse_2016) 



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

This White Hot EMI pressing has some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard. Man, this copy sure has it going on: it’s super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, with all of the weight of the orchestra down low on both sides.

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 very copy.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)


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Saint-Saens - Organ Symphony

180g Klavier Debunked

  (Item #: saintsym3_klavier) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing.

Yet another murky, smeary Audiophile Piece of Trash from the mastering lathe of the formerly brilliant Doug Sax. He used to cut the best sounding records in the world. Then he started working for Analogue Productions and never cut a good record again as far as I know.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)


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Saint-Saens - Piano Concerto No. 2

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: saintconce_2234_2011) 



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

Harry Pearson put this recording on his TAS List of Super Disc LPs, and with good reason -- the sound is wonderfully relaxed and natural. This is no Hi-Fi Spectacular, as is the case with so many of the records on his list. (Hey, we like our Demo Discs every bit as much as he does; just not the same ones. SR 90006 and LSC 2225 on Classic? Really?)

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens


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Saint-Saens / Symphony #3 / Mehta

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: saintsymph_6680_2011) 



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

This British London pressing is the winner of our recent shootout. We had three London pressings, all the same stamper numbers if I recall correctly, and this is the only copy to have Super Hot Stamper sound on either side. Side two is actually quite nice, with lovely texture to the strings. The sound is transparent and natural, two qualities that are in short supply on most of the recordings Mehta did with the L.A. Phil. in our experience.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens


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Saint-Saens / Symphony No. 3 ("Organ") / Fremaux

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: saintsym3_2016) 



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

One of Saint-Saens' greatest masterpieces finally comes to Better Records with true Demo Disc sound. Huge, lively, spacious, dynamic - both sides earned our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++). What this copy did better than any other was show us just how rich, smooth and Tubey Magical the 1973 sound could be.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)


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Saint-Saens / Violin Con #3 & Chausson / Poeme - Milstein

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: saintviol3_2013) 



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

This White Hot Stamper original Blue Angel pressing has some of the most exquisite sound for a violin/orchestral recording we have ever heard here at Better Records. I do not think there is any Heifetz album on RCA Shaded Dog (or otherwise) 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. In other words, this is one of the best sounding violin-led orchestral recordings we have yet to play, and we've played them by the hundreds and hundreds. (Practice makes perfect they say.)

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens


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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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Saint-Saens on Vinyl

Four that Didn't Make the Grade

  (Item #: saint-saens) 



These are just some of the recordings of the music of Saint-Saens 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 Saint-Saens's Music

Pressings of Saint-Saens's Music We've Reviewed



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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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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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Various Composers / Ballet Music From The Opera / Fistoulari

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: varioballe_2400_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

Classic Records ruined this album, as one would have expected. Their version is dramatically more aggressive, shrill and harsh than the Shaded Dogs we've played, with almost none of the sweetness, richness and ambience that the best RCA pressings have in such abundance. In fact their pressing is just plain awful, like most of the classical recordings they remastered, and should be avoided at any price.

More Living Stereo


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Various Composers / Ballet Music From The Opera / Fistoulari

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: varioballe_2400_2011) 



This Super Rare, Highly Collectible copy of LSC 2400 has vintage RCA Golden Age sound, for better and for worse. Even though the album was recorded by Decca, it's got a heavy dose of Living Stereo Tubey Magic. There will never be a reissue of this record that even remotely captures the richness of the sound here.

And the hall is HUGE -- so spacious and three-dimensional it's almost shocking, especially if you've been playing the kind of dry, multi-miked modern recordings that the '70s ushered in for London and RCA. (EMI is super spacious but much of that space is weird, coming from out of phase back channels folded in to the stereo mix. And often so mid-hall and distant. Not our sound, sorry.)

More Living Stereo


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Various Composers / Ballet Music From The Opera / Fistoulari

VICS 1206 - Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: varioballe_1206_2013) 



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

Better than Super Hot Stamper sound on side one of this lovely Victrola reissue from 1960, one of the best in the entire series. Pay attention to the brass -- yes, it may have some tubey smear, but listen to how HUGE and POWERFUL it is! Drop the needle on the first side and watch (or listen) as the sound comes jumping out of your speakers. Modern records can't do that.

These Decca-derived recordings are highly sought after, and with good reason. It's hard to imagine a more wonderful audiophile disc, both in terms of the programme and the quality of the sound.

More Living Stereo


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