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Advice for Classical fans:

Discussion in 'classical' started by Alex S, Jul 16, 2005.

  1. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    Buy some of the Living Stereo/RCA and Mercury hybrid/dual layer discs even if you never intend to play an SACD in your life. The CD layer tends to be top notch, the remastering excellent and the performances seminal. Also, they aren't expensive: 8.99 for the LS and 9.99 for Mercury from Amazon.

    The Reiner/CSO performances from the 50s are superb, as are the Dorati/LSO on Mercury, especially the Dvorak Cello conc' with Starker.
  2. Anderzander

    Anderzander Grateful Bodger

    that sounds good - can I search by label on Amazon?
  3. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    Not easy to search that way. The Living Stereos can be checked out here and the Mercurys here
  4. colindog

    colindog Active Member

    Don't miss Daphnis Et Chloe on this label, Boston Symphony under Charles Munch from 1953, or Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra and Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta with CSO under Reiner

    The sound on these releases is unbelievable, amazing they are more than 50 year old.
  5. sean99

    sean99 pfm Member


    I'm not sure if they ship outside of the US, but their search mechanism is the best I have found, and they give you the serial numbers.

    I've bought a few disks from them and they are a great outfit.

    I like the Decca Legends series also. It's amazing how good the old recordings sounds. Progress, what progress !?
  6. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    colindog, yes, both are superb - which layer are you listening to?
  7. colindog

    colindog Active Member

    Its the SACD layer on someone else's :( Marantz SA-11.
    A lot of the best SACDs I've heard have been DSD remasters of pre-digital analogue recordings.

    The redbook layer is still very good, I read some crits of these Living Presence recordings that said they thought the redbook layer was better than the previous CD remasterings, although they claim to be the same as issued in early '90s. But the SACD layer is stunning - so much life and presence and vibrancy to the sound.
  8. kasperhauser

    kasperhauser pfm Member

    How does stuff on the Russian Melodiya (sorry, no Cyrillic characters) rate sound- and performance-wise? I see them from time to time. Just curious. The one I have (forget the title at the moment) is odd – lots of hall noise (chairs and paper shuffling, etc.) but the performance is absolutely FIERCE. Really shakes you to attention.

    I'll post the details of it later, when I have access to my (still boxed) cd collection.
  9. Tantris

    Tantris pfm Member

    Like any label, the sound quality is variable. I think I generally prefer the recordings on vinyl than on CD, where the remastering is noticeably drier. Melodiya linked up with EMI for distribution of many of their recordings (mainly of Russian composers, or Russian performers) in the West, and several of these are definitive, e.g. the Borodin's two cycles of Shostakovich's string quartets (the first cycle doesn't include the last two quartets as they weren't written at the time), Tatiana Nikolayeva's recording of Shostakovich's 24 preludes and fugues (earlier than her later recording on Hyperion), Kondrashin's and Mravinsky's recordings of Shostakovich's symphonies, Richter's recordings of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier, etc.
  10. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    My preferred and most lyrical Shostakovich recordings are on Melodia - picked up in Russia - with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky conducting the USSR Ministry of Culture Orchestra. Perhaps not in the same class as Haitink and other lumineries but they get to the heart of the matter.
  11. Jonboi

    Jonboi Because Music Matters

    Hi Alex S

    Many thanks for the 'tip' - I've only just recently 'discovered' SACD *shame on me* and will investigate. Heheh, that's what you get for being a Naim disciple, well, almost ex in my case....LOL

    Best Regards

    John... :)
  12. duncan

    duncan ...

    I almost always prefer Russian orchestras and conductors in Shostakovich. It is possible to go overboard on this nationalist stuff but they just sound so much more, well, russian. I'm a big fan of Haitink generally but his cycle sounds too straight and germanic to my ears. Wonderful recordings though.
  13. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    I quite agree Duncan - I have the whole Haitink cycle and its too germanic. I wonder if Russian conductors have any luck with German composers - I'll do a survey.
  14. griffo104

    griffo104 pfm Member

    I have the Daphnis Et Chloe disc and the sacd layer is exceptional. Really shows what is possible with this format - and also with a near 50 year old recording.

    Although some of the Channel classics discs on sacd, and BIS too, are also excellent.
  15. Herman S

    Herman S pfm Member

    My advice re the Melodyia would be to pick up any copy you spot, because they're really getting quite scarce.

    I know David HM, for instance, was looking for the DSCH 48 preludes and fugues by Nikolayeva, and they seem to have completely vanished off the market. Or have you found one, David?

    Re: Shostakovich symphonies. There's an excellent remastering of Kondrashin's cycle with the Moscow Philharmonic on the Korean Aulos label. You can get it thru a New York (or rather Rockaway) mon & pop store called Russian Video or something (which also sells Tabu etc). Or even better they are also auctioning it on Bay of E, as I recall. It completely blows away the way too spiffy Haitink versions (and let's face it the spot-miking and the bizarre esatz Concertgebouw acoustic on the Haitink 5 & 8 are just too silly for words). It's too bad the Aulos folks won't clean up the Rozhdestvensky DSCH too, because that is a great version, but the sound is just too tubby.
  16. Tantris

    Tantris pfm Member

    The Melodiya / Nikolayeva versions of Shostakovich's 24 preludes and fugues are available at bargain price from Regis. They're good - although I think I prefer her later Hyperion recording. I've just picked up on vinyl the set of these played by Roger Woodward - I haven't listened to it yet, but the times are much shorter than either of Nikolayeva's recordings.
  17. Tantris

    Tantris pfm Member

    For anyone interested, Radio 3 is broadcasting two programmes with Tatiana Nikolayeva playing excerpts from Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues - the first is on 2nd August. I don't know yet if these are from the existing Melodiya or Hyperion recordings, but it would be great if they were from a different source. There have been a few Borodin Quartet recitals over the last few months, some from the late 50's with performances of Shostakovich quartets very soon after the work had been written, which have been really good.
  18. colindog

    colindog Active Member

    back to Living Stereo DSD remasters...

    I heard the Dvorak & Walton Cello Concerto recordings with William Piatagorsky and Charles Munch & Boston Symphony, from 1957 & 1960 respectively. Both superb, though recorded sound quite different in each case.

    The Dvorak sounded great, especially the orchestra, but solo cello was a bit muffled which was odd. performance was great, especially interchange between winds and the solo cello.

    The Walton (recorded by the artists it was written for very shortly after its premiere) was a very closely miked recording, especially close for the woodwinds while rest of orchestra is a bit backwards. No problems with cello sound. A superb performance but maybe just about prefer Lynn Harrell and Rattle with CBSO.

    Also heard Jascha Heifitz, Hendl and CSO in Sibelius Violin Concerto. great sound, but some modern recordings more truthful and more transparent. Blazing fast exciting tempos!
  19. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    Yes, I like the Heifitz Sibelius and the Prokofiev on the same disc is stunning.

    I prefer Starker's Dvorak on the Mercury reissue.

    On LS, Rubenstein's Chopin is awesome - big piano but not quite too big and no showing off - he didn't have to. I was lucky enough to see Rubenstein perform a few times and he was always captivating.
  20. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    Just played a Sony SACD of Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations. He spends the whole disc humming in the background. I guess Sony's engineers thought this was clever. All it does for me is put me in mind of that Smith & Jones sketch.

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