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White Hot Stamper

Bruch - Scottish Fantasia / Mendelssohn - Violin Con. - Campoli

  (Item #: bruchscott_15015_1912) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • As good as the Mendelssohn is on side one - with Double Plus (A++) sound it would have to be excellent indeed - the crowning glory of this disc is the Scottish Fantasy on side two
  • It's some of the best sound we have ever heard for the work, right up there with our longtime favorite, the Heifetz on Living Stereo (LSC 2603)
  • One of the truly great 1959 All Tube Kenneth Wilkinson "Decca Tree" recordings in Kingsway Hall, captured faithfully in all its beauty on this very disc
  • Referring to the Mendelssohn, Gramophon noted: "[Campoli's] virtuosity in the finale are as self-evident as is the excellence of the accompaniment under Sir Adrian Boult. There are many felicitous touches and the distinguished soloist plays magnificently throughout."
More of the music of Max Bruch (1938-1920)


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Super Hot Stamper

Paganini / Violin Concertos 1 & 2 / Menuhin / Erede

  (Item #: paganvioli_emi_1910) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A superb UK pressing with a Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one, mated to a very good sounding side two - exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
  • Two of the truly great virtuoso/romantic violin concertos, boasting superb 1961 EMI Golden Age Analog Sound
  • The complete first Violin Concerto on this vintage LP has killer sound, right up there with our Shootout Winner from the last go around
  • It's simply bigger, more transparent, less distorted, more three-dimensional and more REAL than most others
  • The best balance of orchestra and soloist we know of for both works, with sound to rival the greatest concerto recordings we've played
More of Niccolò Paganini's music


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Super Hot Stamper

Ella Fitzgerald
The Duke Ellington Songbook, Vol. 2

  (Item #: fitzgsings_the_duke_1903_6_10) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • A superb sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on all four sides!
  • Forget the originals - like so many of the early songbook pressings, they suffer from painfully hard and honky mastering EQ (and gritty sounding vinyl)
  • We know whereof we speak when it comes to early Ella records - we've played plenty of them and found that most just don't sound very good
  • "Duke's spectacular catalog dazzles, and his sprightly, lush textures are transfigured under Fitzgerald's warm-timbred voice and elegant, precise delivery... each tune as familiar as it is delightful to hear in this new context."
See all of our Ella Fitzgerald albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Beethoven / Violin Concerto / Grumiaux

  (Item #: beethvioli_grumiaux_1911) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • Presenting one of the best sounding recordings of the Beethoven Violin Concerto we have ever played
  • This classical masterpiece boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Grumiaux's violin is presented in a more correct concert hall perspective - he's meant to be heard as a natural part of the orchestra on this recording
  • The orchestra is wide, tall, spacious, rich and tubey, yet the dynamics and transparency are first rate
More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)


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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 / 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 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 / Violin Concerto / Grumiaux

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: beethvioli_grumiaux_2018) 



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 / 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/ ’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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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 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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Brahms / Concerto for Violin and Cello - Heifetz / Piatigorsky (LDS 2513)

  (Item #: brahmvioli_2513) 



This nice looking RCA Soria pressing plays about Mint Minus, pretty quiet for a Shaded Dog era pressing.

The orchestra is its typical shrill self. The cello and violin sound wonderful most of the time. When they really get going the sound can be a bit much. At moderate volumes the record is very enjoyable.

This is a famous recording for having distortion and congestion in the louder orchestral passages. There is no such thing as a copy of this record that doesn't have that problem. You listen to this record for the wonderul interplay between Heifetz and Piatigorsky and not much else.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)


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Brahms / Sonata in D Minor / Laredo

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: brahmsonat_2414_2007) 



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

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND for this incredibly rare Living Stereo violin record.

This is the first copy I've ever seen. Side one, the Brahms Sonata, has very good sound and is played beautifully. When I dropped the needle on side two I went "Wow!"

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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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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Brahms / Violin Concerto - Milstein / Steinberg

  (Item #: brahmvioli) 



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

Another nice Milstein record with exquisite violin tone. Of course the performance is magical. The massed strings are lovely here. Lots of hall, big spacious sound, and of course a violin to die for.

See all of our pressings with Nathan Milstein performing


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Brahms / Violin Concerto / Heifetz / Reiner

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: brahmvioli_1903_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The Classic reissue of LSC 1903 is a disaster: shrill, smeary and unmusical.

The best Heifetz records on Classic were, if memory serves, LSC 2734 (Glazunov), LSC 2603 (Bruch) and LSC 2769 (Rozsa). They aren't nearly as offensive as the others. If you can pick one up for ten or twenty bucks, you might get your money's worth depending, I suppose, on how critically you listen to your classical records.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Violin Concerto / Szeryng / Dorati

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: brahmvioli_90308_2012) 



These later Mercury stampers are wonderful: gorgeous woodwinds, a large, full-bodied orchestra and of course a Tubey Magical violin to die for. Both sides earned SUPERB Super Hot Stamper grades (but for very different reasons). The exciting sound is matched by an equally exciting performance by Dorati. Dorati and the LSO pull out all the stops; they're staking out a position as to just how powerfully and emotionally this work ought to be performed.

The opening is so dramatic -- in the style of the First Brahms Symphony -- that it's hard to imagine there is any recording medium that can capture it without a fair amount of dynamic compression. This vintage pressing suffers from a relatively (in our experience) small amount of congestion and shrillness at the opening and elsewhere.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

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Brahms / Violin Concerto / Szeryng / Monteux

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: brahmvioli_2281_2007) 



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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND!.

One of the most amazing violin concerto records I have ever heard! Makes most of the Heifetz records pale in comparison. The performance is sublime as well.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Violin Concerto In D Major / Stern / Ormandy

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: brahmconce_2009) 



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

This very nice looking Columbia LP has SUPERB SOUND on side two. The violin is much sweeter than on side one and there's much less distortion during the loud passages. If we were grading this as a Hot Stamper we'd give it about an A+ - A++. And on top of all that, Isaac Stern, never one of my favorite performers, is actually wonderful here. He plays beautifully.

See all pressings of Johannes Brahms' music in stock


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Brahms Violin Concerto

Is the 1s Pressing Always the Best?

  (Item #: brahmvioli_1903_myth) 



This early Shaded Dog pressing of a 1958 recording has surprisingly good Super Hot stamper sound on side two. On the second side the sound opens up and is very sweet, with the violin becoming much more present and clear. The whole of side two is transparent with an extended top. Usually the earliest Living Stereo titles suffer from a lack of top end extension, but not this one.

Maybe the 1S is that way. For some reason audiophiles tend to think that the earliest cuttings are the best, but that's just another Record Myth in our experience, easily refuted if you've played hundreds of these Living Stereo pressings and noted which stampers sound the best and which do not.

More recordings featuring the violin


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Britten / Piano & Violin Concertos / Richter

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: brittconce_2011) 



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

This London pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, the Violin Concerto side. Here the violin sounds superb -- rich, sweet and natural. The brass on this side is HUGE, which is a bit shocking for a later London from 1971. Once you get past the '60s the sound of most Londons is opaque and flat (which describes perfectly far too many Londons with Solti at the helm), but not so here. The stage is as deep and wide as any vintage Golden Age recording we've played recently, and we've played plenty.

More of the music of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)


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Bruch & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Laredo - Mitchell

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bruchvioli_2010) 



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

Superb sound. The violin is wonderful on both sides. The Mozart is absolutely gorgeous; the best I''ve ever heard it.

The orchestra on the Bruch side gets a little congested in the louder passages, which is typical for records of this era.

Laredo plays these pieces beautifully. The Bruch is an especially romantic work and his violin sings sweetly and with deep emotion throughout. The Mozart is more spritely and he plays it with the light touch it requires. You will have a hard time finding a better violin concerto record. This ranks with the best of them.

More of the music of Max Bruch


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Bruch - Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: bruchvioli_2011) 



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

Both sides of this Shaded Dog pressing of Heifetz and the New Symphony Orchestra of London have sound that earned the quite respectable sonic grades of A+ to A++.

Side one is tonally correct and lively, but suffers from a bit of the all-too-common tube smear, no doubt from the mastering chains and record presses that were in use at the time. (Most modern mastering chains and record presses are, to our ears, even worse, so this is not to denigrate the engineers at RCA in any way. It's simply to say that with Tubey Magic you often get tubey smear.)

More of the music of Max Bruch


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Bruch / Scottish Fantasia - Oistrakh / Horenstein

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: bruchscott_2014) 



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

CS 6337. This Minty looking London Whiteback LP has THE MOST AMAZING SCOTTISH FANTASIA I have ever heard! Folks, it doesn't get any better than this. I would say this is one of the five best sounding violin recordings I have ever heard. Interestingly, the violin sound that we typically put up with is found on side two of this very album. It's easy to forget that there are actually records that sound like side one, and that side two really isn't the way an orchestra is supposed to sound.

More of the music of Max Bruch (1938-1920


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Bruch / Scottish Fantasy / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bruchscott_2603_2012) 



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

WHITE HOT Stamper sound for the Bruch side of this original RCA Shaded Dog, one of the best Heifetz concerto titles of all time. (I'm trying to think of a Heifetz title that sounds better and coming up blank.)

This was our shootout winner on side two, beating all comers, earning our highest grade, the full Three Pluses (our blue ribbon, gold medal, and best in show all wrapped into one). The sound is nothing short of DEMO DISC QUALITY.

More of the music of Max Bruch


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Bruch / Scottish Fantasy / Heifetz

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: bruchscott_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

It should go without saying that a good original pressing kills the Classic reissue, and the Classic version is one of the better Classics. Still, it's no match for the real thing, not even close. The Classic is airless, smeary and low-rez, which means that all the subtleties of the music and the performance will be much more difficult to appreciate. I dare say that were you to hear this copy it would be all but impossible to sit through the Classic ever again.

More of the music of Max Bruch


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Debussy & Ravel / String Quartet - Julliard String Quartet

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: debusquart_2413_2005) 



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

Near Mint SUPER RARE Demonstration Copy Shaded Dog of this Debussy and Ravel string quartet recording.

I haven't seen a clean one of these in probably close to ten years. This record looks like it has been played very little.

The sound is also very natural. Not bright or close miked -- much more the way it would actually be heard in a smaller more intimate setting.

More Living Stereo


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Dvorak & Glazounov - Violin Concertos - Milstein

Cisco Reviewed

  (Item #: dvoravioli_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: B or so

Some of the sweetest violin tone on heavy vinyl you will ever hear. For Heavy Vinyl this one gets a very high recommendation. The domestic originals we've played have been uniformly awful so pick up this Cisco pressing wherever you can find it if the price is right, assuming you can stand the lack of ambience and resolution that Heavy Vinyl consistently suffers from. To be honest, we have not played this record in many years and would probably like it much less now than we did at the time of its release.

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Dvorak & Glazounov / Violin Concertos - Milstein

Hopelessly Outclassed by the Stereo LP

  (Item #: dvoravioli_milstein_mono) 



Stick with stereo on this album. The Mono pressings -- at least the ones we've played -- aren't worth anybody's time (scratch that: any audiophile's time).

Here are some other records that we don't think sound very good in MONO.

Here are some we think can sound amazing in MONO.

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)


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Dvorak / Violin Concerto / Accardo / Davis

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: dvoravioli_accardo_2015) 



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

Top quality sound on BOTH sides of this lovely Philps recording from 1980 -- yes, it was still possible to record classical music properly in 1980, though not many labels managed to pull it off. (Londons from this era are especially opaque and airless. We find them as irritating and frustrating as most of the Heavy Vinyl releases being foisted on the audiophile public today.)

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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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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Glazounov & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz/ Hendl

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: glazoconce_2734_2011) 



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

Hot Stamper sound on side one of this Shaded Dog pressing, and even better sound on side two for these two important works of the basic repertoire.

The presentation of the violin on side one is present, one could even say immediate. It's not quite as tubey magical as the better Heifetz pressings I have played, so we are keeping the grade at a fairly modest A+. Those with "tubier" systems may find it complements your sound better than it does mine.

More recordings featuring the violin


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JS Bach / Mozart - Two Violin Concertos

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: bach_conce_1129_2011) 



This original plum label Victrola pressing from 1965 has SUPERB sound on both sides. The Bach piece is a rich tapestry of strings spread across the stage and clearly separated left to right. There's not much depth but that seems of little consequence; all the instruments are heard in their proper space and location. The tonality is right on the money throughout.

The Mozart concerto starts out sounding a bit opaque, but about an inch or so into the side it opens up wonderfully, with sweet, spacious, natural sound from there on out. Jaime Laredo plays both works superbly, and the Living Stereo quality sound brings his playing to life in a way that few recordings can.

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)


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JS Bach / Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin / Martzy

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: bach_sonat_2012) 



This Minty British "Sitting Angel" pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, reproducing accurately the sound of a solo violin in what sounds to us like a fairly lively and resonant rehearsal hall. Perhaps accurately is not the right word, since obviously none of us have ever set foot in whatever room the music was recorded in. "Realistic" might be a better choice in that regard, since the sound is believable for what we would expect that room might have contributed to the sound we hear on the pressing in hand.

Interestingly, the sound on side two is a tad better than side one -- the violin is more present and warm, the room less resonant (in a good way).

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach


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Lalo / Symphonie Espagnole / Szeryng / Hendl

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: lalo_symph_1064_2011) 



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

This is an AMAZING sounding early Plum Victrola pressing, one of the BEST SOUNDING Victrolas we have ever heard -- when (and only when) you have a copy that sounds as good as this one does. This is by far the best side two we played, out of the three copies we had on hand, earning our top sonic grade of A+++. This pressing on side two ranks right up there with the best of the hundreds of Shaded Dogs we've played. I haven't had a Shaded Dog of this title to audition in a long time, but I sure don't remember it sounding like this.

More Living Stereo


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Mendelssohn & Prokofiev / Concertos / Heifetz / Munch

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: mendevioli_2314_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Heavy Vinyl Classical LP debunked.

Classic Records ruined this album, as expected. Their version is dramatically more aggressive, edgy and smeared than the better vintage pressings. In fact it's just plain awful, like most of the classical recordings they remastered.

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)


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Mendelssohn & Prokofiev / Concertos / Heifetz / Munch

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mendevioli_2314_2011) 



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

This BETTER than Super Hot Stamper (A++ to A+++) White Dog pressing has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side one for the Mendelssohn concerto! It really has the Breath of Life. On top of that it's quiet, playing mostly Mint Minus, something that we don't run into too often with fifty year old Living Stereo pressings! Now I see why Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List. Most copies do not sound remotely as good as this one on side one. (Side two is a step down; it would almost have to be.)

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)


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Mendelssohn / Violin Concerto in E Minor / Rybar

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mendevioli_wh_2011) 



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

This Whitehall budget reissue stereo pressing has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides and a performance by Peter Rybar that can hold its own against any you may have heard.

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)


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Mendelssohn and Bruch / Violin Concertos / Ricci / Gamba

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mendevioli_6010_2011) 



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

One of the great London violin concerto records. With a Super Hot Stamper copy such as this one, the Mendelssohn here has DEMO QUALITY SOUND!

In Ruggiero Ricci's hands both works are nothing short of magical (although the Bruch never sounds especially good in our experience). If you want to know why people drool over Golden Age recordings, listen to the violin on side one. If you're not careful you may find yourself drooling too.

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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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Mozart & Turina / The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: mozarheife_2957_2012) 



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

This is a Super Hot Stamper Two-Pack that comprises a White Dog RCA original for side one and a Red Label reissue for side two, for the simple and obvious reason that the "bad" sides of each of these LPs are not nearly as good as the "good" sides. When you play the weaker sides you will no doubt appreciate why we felt it was appropriate to bundle two very different records together to make a truly SUPERB one.

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Mozart / Mendelssohn - The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mozarheife_3048_2011) 



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

The Mozart side of this Red Seal pressing from 1968 sounds AMAZING. I have never heard better staging for a chamber work of this kind. All five instruments are so clearly set apart from each other and tonally correct (for the most part) that it is nothing less than fascinating to be able to follow each instrument as it weaves its way through the score. If you've suffered through the horrendously sour and screechy recordings Heifetz and Piatigorsky are known for in audiophile circles -- LDS 2513 and LDS 6159, you will be glad to know that this side one sounds NOTHING like them.

See more of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)


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Mozart / Sinfonia Concertante / Oistrakh (Igor and David)

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: mozarsinfo_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: B

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca.

Years ago we wrote that the following: "One of the best of the Decca reissues! EXCELLENT SOUND for these pieces, written for violin, viola and orchestra." Can't be sure we would still feel that way but I'm guessing this is a good record at the price.

See more of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)


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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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Paganini & Wieniawski / Concerto No.1 & Con. No. 2 - Rabin

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: paganconce_2010x) 



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

WONDERFUL MUSIC AND SOUND ON SIDE ONE, plus quiet vinyl! This copy gives you precisely the right balance of clarity and sweetness we were looking for in the sound of the violin. Beyond that, the orchestra also sounds amazing here -- so RICH and FULL-BODIED. We found the sound of this side one Hard To Fault and I bet you will too. In fact, I guarantee it -- or your money back! This record puts most of the TAS Super Discs to shame, and it's on a budget reissue label. Hey Harry, how about them apples!?

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Paganini - Kreisler / Concerto In One Movement / Campoli

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: paganconce_6084) 



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

This is a WONDERFUL sounding violin concerto recording. It has TUBEY MAGIC as well as MUSIC to die for. What''s most interesting about the sound is how well the violin is integrated into the orchestra. On most RCAs, just to pick one golden age label to use as an example, the violin is typically hugely oversized and placed far in front of the orchestra. Not so here. The violin is of a whole with the orchestra, which makes for a much more natural and relaxed presentation.

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Paganini / Caprices / Ricci

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: pagancapri_6163_2011) 



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

This London White Hot Stamper pressing has DEMO QUALITY SOUND on side two! Sound of this calibre is nothing less than SHOCKING. If you like the sound of solo violin -- and who doesn't -- you will have a VERY hard time finding a better sounding recording of it than this. That's assuming you can get your Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA) dead on the money, not something every audiophile can manage. If you can, lookout -- you are in for a sonic treat.

More of the music of Niccolò Paganini


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Paganini / Concerto No. 1 / Rabin / Goossens

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: paganconce_2011) 



This is a rare and very nice looking Capitol LP with Very Little Sign of Play (VLSOP). The violin sounds rich and sweet, although the orchestral sound is a bit old school.
More of the music of Niccolò Paganini


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Paganini / Violin Concerto 1 & 2 / Menuhin

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: paganvioli_emi_2013) 



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

Another remarkable Demo Disc from the Golden Age of recording, in this case 1961, with the benefit of more modern mastering from the '70s, a combination that works wonders on this title, as you will hear from both of these White Hot sides.

The sound is so transparent, undistorted, three-dimensional and REAL, without any sacrifice in solidity, richness or Tubey Magic, that we knew we had our shootout winner with this copy.

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Paganini / Violin Concerto 1 & 2 / Ricci (LL 1215)

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: paganconce_2010) 



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

This is one of the MOST AMAZING VIOLIN RECORDINGS in the history of the world. For sheer violin virtuosity it doesn't get any better than this. Ricci and London in the early '50s cannot be beat! This is a true Demo Disc with music of the highest caliber, and I'm betting whoever takes this one home will be THRILLED.

Both sides are dynamic, full-bodied, lively and sweet. This is a vintage London mono recording of the '50s and consequently has some limitations in terms of bandwidth and of course soundstage, but the luscious midrange more than makes up for both. The violin is REAL in a way that few other recordings manage to make it.

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Paganini / Violin Concertos 1 & 2

Expensive Heavy Vinyl Trash

  (Item #: paganvioli_outrage) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning (usually old) records.

Had I paid good money to buy this pressing in the hopes of hearing the supremely talented Yehudi Menuhin of 1961 tear it up on Paganini's legendary first two concertos, I can tell you one thing: I would be pissed.

Where is the outrage in the audiophile community over this kind of trash? I have yet to see it. I suspect I will grow quite a bit older and quite a bit greyer before anyone else notices just how bad this record sounds. I hope I'm proven wrong.

More of the music of Niccolò Paganini


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Paganini / Violin Concertos 1 & 2

Fenn Music Debunked

  (Item #: paganvioli_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Heavy Vinyl Classical LP debunked.

We managed to get hold of the Heavy Vinyl pressing from Fenn Music in Germany, about which a well known record dealer on the web (you may recognize the style) had this to say:

Stunning Reissue Of EMI ASD 440 Recorded In Stereo In 1961. This Recording Featuring The Royal Philharmonic Conducted By Alberto Erede Provides Convincing Proof, If Any Were Needed, That Menuhin Was One Of The Great Violinists Of The 20th Century.
More of the music of Niccolò Paganini


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Paganini/ Caprices - Rabin

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: pagancapri_2010) 



This is a Minty looking Mono Capitol LP (PBR 8477) with Very Little Sign of Play (VLSOP). The one disc in the box contains sides two and three of the full two-record set. All fourteen caprices included here (6 through 19) are complete.

In stereo, in this kind of minty condition, the most recent copy that sold in 2010 went for over $700. The mono copies do not bring quite that kind of money -- not sure why, this is a solo violin recording, what would stereo add? -- and the copy we are offering here is missing one of the records, so take it for a much better price than you might otherwise have to pay. Perhaps one disc's worth of Caprices is enough?

More of the music of Niccolò Paganini


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Prokofiev / Violin Con. #1 & Lalo / Symphonie Espagnole - Milstein

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: prokovioli_milstein_2008) 



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

This fairly nice Milstein record has exquisite violin tone and of course the performance is magical. These comments only apply to the Lalo on side two. (Side one never sounds good on this album.)

See all of our pressings with Nathan Milstein performing


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Rabin / The Magic Bow / Slatkin

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: variorabin_bow_2010) 



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

This original Capitol Michael Rabin record is ONE OF THE VERY BEST VIOLIN RECORDINGS we have ever played here at Better Records. The sound is OUT OF THIS WORLD! The immediacy of the violin tone is unbelievable -- Rabin is in the room with you throughout the entirety of the record in a way that few recordings in our experience could hope to equal.

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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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Ruggiero Ricci / Solo Recital

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: riccisolor_6193_2011) 



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

EXCELLENT SOUND and quiet vinyl on both sides of this London LP featuring the great Ruggiero Ricci performing solo violin pieces! Side two in particular has a sweet, clear top end that really shows you the detail in the violin. Side one is transparent and tonally correct but a bit dark, without all the clarity and sweetness of side two. Still, a very good side at A+ to A++.

Violin sonatas by Stravinsky, Bartok, Prokofiev and Hindemith.

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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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Sibelius / Violin Concerto / Heifetz

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: sibelvioli_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked. Classic remastered this title in the '90s -- it's one of the better Heifetz recordings. As expected, their version was awful, as bad as LSC 1903, 1992, 2129 and others too numerous to list.

More of the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)


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Sibelius / Violin Concerto / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: sibelvioli_2435_2011) 



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

This TAS List Shaded Dog has AMAZINGLY NATURAL violin tone, especially on side two, which earned a seriously good grade of A++. This side two will show you exactly what Living Stereo Magic is all about. The violin is very well recorded, and with a side two as good as this one you hear just how big and rich it can sound.

More of the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)


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Sibelius / Violin Concerto / Ricci - Fjelstad

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: sibelvioli_2011) 



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

This is a wonderful sounding London Stereo Treasury pressing featuring one of our favorite violinists, Ruggiero Ricci, performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor. The tone of the violin on side one is just right -- every nuance of Ricci's bowing can clearly be heard!

More of the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)


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Tchaikovsky / Concerto for Violin & Orchestra / Oistrakh

Not Too Big to Fail

  (Item #: tchaivioli_mhs_wtlf) 



Side two of this copy from our 2016 shootout provides a clear example of the effect known as the "The Violin That Ate Cincinatti."

Yes, it may be oversized, but it's so REAL and IMMEDIATE and harmonically correct in every way that we felt more than justified in ignoring the fact that the instrument could never sound in the concert hall the way it does here -- unless you were actually playing it (and even then I doubt if it would be precisely the same sound -- big, but surely quite different).

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


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Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Grumiaux

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tchaivioli_2012) 



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

This White Hot Two-Pack of the most well-known and beloved violin concerto in the classical repertoire gives you a TOP performance with TOP quality sound from first note to last. No single copy had two sides as good as these, so we've combined two LPs to bring you the best Tchaicovsky Violin Concerto ever to hit the site.

In choosing these two sides we put special emphasis on the sound of the violin. Many copies suffered from a slight screechiness to the sound of the instrument, but we present here a violin that is rich and sweet, yet retains the full pallette of its complex harmonics.

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


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Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Heifetz / Reiner

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: tchaivioli_2129_2009) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper Shaded Dog pressing has DEMO DISC SOUND in the truest sense of the word. What you have here is a more tonally correct, more correctly sized and more NATURAL sounding violin than you will find on the vast majority of pressings of LSC 2129. If you want to hear a violin jump out of your speakers and into your lap, this is NOT the record for you. Instead what you get here is a violin that sounds more like the real thing, assuming you paid top dollar for your seats and like to sit up close.

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Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Heifetz / Reiner

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: tchaivioli_2129_classic) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The Classic is both aggessive and lacking in rosiny string texture at the same time, the worst of both worlds. Bernie's cutting system is what I would call Low Resolution -- the harmonics and subtleties of the sound simply never make it to the vinyl.

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


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Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Szeryng - Munch

Not Recommended

  (Item #: tchaivioli_2363_2005) 



1S/ 1S Shaded Dog.

The violin is very immediate sounding on this recording, maybe too much so. The sound of the orchestra is where this record falls short.

It's congested, thin and shrill in places. The right copy of Heifetz's performance on LSC 1992 is overall a much better record. Some may prefer Szeryng's way with this famous piece, which is a matter of taste of course. If you're listening for just the performance and the sound of the violin, you may find this record to be more acceptable.

More Living Stereo


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Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Szeryng - Munch

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: tchaivioli_1037_2010) 



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

This plum label original Victrola pressing is comparable if not actually better than most pressings of the rare Shaded Dog it's reissuing, LSC 2363. The violin tone is lovely on side one, but the orchestra is not what it should be, hence the grade of A Plus.

Side two has Tartini's Devil's Trill which takes up about half the side and has the best sound here, earning a grade of A+ to A++. Szeryng is excellent throughout.

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The Brahms Violin Concerto

Unplug or Suffer the Consequences!

  (Item #: brahmvioli_test) 



The massed strings here, such as those found at the opening, are close miked and immediate in the "Mercury recording style." Your electricity better be good when you play this record, because it presents a test many of you will have trouble passing at even moderate levels.

We've often encouraged our readers and customers to go about unplugging things in their homes in order to test the effect of clean electricity on their playback systems. The opening of this record is a perfect example of the kind of material with which everyone should be testing in order to hear these changes. I'd be very surprised if the strings on this record don't sound noticeably better after you've unplugged a few things in your house, and the more the better.

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Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA)

A Few Moments of Experimentation Can Really Pay Off

  (Item #: paganvioli_vta) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically adjust your Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA).

Experimenting with the VTA for this record in preparation for a shootout we found a precise point where it all came together, far exceeding whatever expectations for the recording we had at the time. Correct VTA revealed what to our ears now sounded like a gloriously real violin floating in the room, a huge concert space surrounding it...

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Vivaldi / 4 Concerti For Two Violins and Orch. / Stern & Oistrakh

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: vivalfourc_columbia_0511) 



This Columbia Six-Eye original pressing (MS 6204) has an especially lovely side one. The extended tape hiss is a dead giveaway that this copy has the high frequencies that are going to let the violin harmonics come through beautifully, and they do!

Once we had our VTA adjusted precisely for this pressing, the texture on the strings came through gloriously. Of course getting the VTA right resulted in more transparency and ambience as well, with huge amounts of space around the players. The result: a Super Hot Side One, no doubt about it!

More of the music of Antonio Vivaldi


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Vivaldi / Concertos for Harpsichord, Guitar, Harp and Violin / Duhamel

  (Item #: vivalconce_90401) 



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

Near Demo quality. A Mercury sleeper. These concertos have excellent sound and the music is very enjoyable.

More of the music of Antonio Vivaldi


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Vivaldi / The 4 Seasons / Munchinger

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: vivalfours_6044_2011) 



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

This Hot Stamper London Whiteback is certainly no Demo Disc by any means. That said, the sound is quite good, with correct tonality from top to bottom. The perspective is somewhat recessed and the sound could use more top end extension, but the instruments sound natural and musical and that alone puts it well ahead of the pack in the world of classical recordings. Relaxed and enjoyable throughout. We call it A+ on both sides.

As I recall the performance here is a bit more lively than it is on the famous RCA (LSC 2424).

More of the music of Antonio Vivaldi


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Vivaldi / The Four Seasons - Societa Corelli

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: vivalfours_2424) 



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

This AMAZINGLY QUIET RCA Shaded Dog has SUPERB SOUND. It''s also without a doubt one of the finest small string ensemble recordings on this site. Which is only fitting for the most famous string music ever recorded.

More Living Stereo


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Vivaldi / The Four Seasons / I Solisti di Zagreb / Tomasow

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: vivalfours_vanguard_2012) 



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

Folks, we have some good news for those of you who have been waiting for one of the best sounding, most beautifully performed Four Seasons ever recorded. THIS IS IT! White Hot on both sides, I can't say the sound is better than the White Hot Shaded Dog pressing we heard in our recent shootout. It's certainly different, and one could easily make the case for either. Of course one's taste enters into the calculation, so choosing a clear winner is simply not possible with markedly superior pressings such as these.

More of the music of Antonio Vivaldi


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Vivaldi Ensemble / Vivaldi, The Beatles

Bad Direct Disc Music & Sound

  (Item #: vivalsprin_rdc-2) 



Sonic Grade: F

An awful Direct to Disc recording. The bad sound and pointless music -- this is the kind of crap we audiophiles used to put up with back in the '70s before we had much of a clue -- means that it clearly belongs in only one place on our site: the Hall of Shame.

More of the music of Antonio Vivaldi


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Walton - Violin Concerto -- Chung / Previn

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: waltovioli_6601_2011) 



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

A Near Mint 1973 Decca British Import LP. This album also contains the Stravinsky Concerto on side two.

The Walton sounds quite good; the Stravinsky is a bit Hi-Fi-ish for my taste. Love that cover!

More Andre Previn


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