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Best classical recordings...ever! - Page 106

post #1576 of 8935
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
 


Yes, but... the sound on those old Columbia recordings isn't what RCA gave Zinman - and if ever there was a composer where sound quality matters, it's Mahler! No Mahler collection should be without Bernstein in both the Sony and DG (better sound) versions. Skip his DVDs - too many errors and lousy sound. When it comes down to it, Bernstein was likely the greatest Mahler interpreter of them all. He possessed the maniacal drive of Solti, the gemutlichkeit of Walter, the architectural sense of Tennstedt, and the pacing that makes Bertini so enjoyable - he doesn't get bogged down like Klemperer, Maazel, and several others. His NYPO was good, great at times, but his DG remakes had better orchestras by far. 
 

 

I wouldn't be so quick to write off the Sony stuff.  The old Columbia LPs were awful (I have a complete set) but the remastering for the Bernstein box is quite impressive.  The recordings may not be quite up to the best of Decca, Mercury or RCA Living Stereo, but they also don't have that super multi-miked wall to wall of processed sound that many (not all) DG recordings had from the late 60s on.  Moreover, the newer reissues do give you more of a sense of space and a natural hall that is typical of well engineered recordings from the 1960s.  Again, while I enjoy many of the more unnatural sounding Karajan Berlin recordings and I do love some of the Bernstein DG set (I have both his Mahler sets) as a general rule, there is enough that's objectionable in that late set (speaking purely in engineering terms) to make the Sony Mahler viable.  Listening to DG recordings I sometimes have this image of German engineers forcing every piece into a particular mold and endlessly twiddling dials.  It's probably unfair but it reminds me of a debate I heard at a conference where representatives of the German and Belgian brewing industries were arguing about beer. The Germans were claiming that their regulations delimited what constituted "beer" and therefore guaranteed quality, while the Belgians wanted to encourage experimentation and more varied approaches to brewing.

post #1577 of 8935

Since you are taking piano lessons, the complete Beethoven Sonata cycle recorded by Daniel Barenboim in 1970 would be a great item to have. I don't normally like Vladimir Ashkenazy for his Beethoven but his interpretation of the Waldstein sonata is my favorite. Artur Rubenstein is also fantastic go-to pianist for accurate renditions of almost any composer.

If you really want a blood boiling presentation of what a pianist can and should be capable of, then check out Georges Cziffra or Vladimir Horowitz ! 

post #1578 of 8935
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hutnicks View Post
 


Fascinating little rendition. Lacking the grandiose stage of most large name renditions it takes on a very intimate ambiance.

 

Looks very interesting.

I've heard several other great recordings on the Alpha label as well.

They do fabulous work IMO.

post #1579 of 8935

 

For most of it's existence this Bartok concerto  has enjoyed some relatively strong popularity compared to many other Bartok works(at least among the general public).Many have attributed it's popular success, and the Concerto for orchestra as well, to it's seemingly more accessible language and subdued modernist leanings.

 

After hearing this adventuresome recording I feel that most violinists and conductors have missed much detail of it's violin writing and the composition in general. It seems there is plenty of good modernistic leanings and wit and lots of other stuff in this piece that has been glazed over far too often.Anyone who loves this concerto will learn something from this recording IMO.Of course some might think it's a bit overdone but anyone who knows Bartok's spikier piece might find some interesting connections here.

 

The other pieces are also quite fine (the Ligeti violin concerto here is as good a recording as any other I think) but the Bartok really stands out.It's very rare a warhorse gets this sort of treatment and shines fresh. 

post #1580 of 8935
Quote:
Originally Posted by perhapss View Post
 

 

For most of it's existence this Bartok concerto  has enjoyed some relatively strong popularity compared to many other Bartok works(at least among the general public).Many have attributed it's popular success, and the Concerto for orchestra as well, to it's seemingly more accessible language and subdued modernist leanings.

 

After hearing this adventuresome recording I feel that most violinists and conductors have missed much detail of it's violin writing and the composition in general. It seems there is plenty of good modernistic leanings and wit and lots of other stuff in this piece that has been glazed over far too often.Anyone who loves this concerto will learn something from this recording IMO.Of course some might think it's a bit overdone but anyone who knows Bartok's spikier piece might find some interesting connections here.

 

The other pieces are also quite fine (the Ligeti violin concerto here is as good a recording as any other I think) but the Bartok really stands out.It's very rare a warhorse gets this sort of treatment and shines fresh. 


I'll check this out, thanks!

post #1581 of 8935

Is the thread dying?:(

 

Would sure like more specific suggestions from some experts on historical recordings and modern recordings of pre-boroque stuff.

The thread lacks in those areas IMO....

post #1582 of 8935

post #1583 of 8935
Quote:
Originally Posted by perhapss View Post
 

Is the thread dying?:(

 

Would sure like more specific suggestions from some experts on historical recordings and modern recordings of pre-boroque stuff.

The thread lacks in those areas IMO....


Indeed sad. I really enjoy this thread.

Got some really nice tips.

Let's keep it alive !!!

post #1584 of 8935
As a quick response, pretty much everything by Jeremy Summerly and the Oxford Camerata on Naxos has very good singing and is reasonably well-recorded. Two immediate examples are their beautiful Gibbons anthems and simple but subtle Byrd masses.

Ensemble Gilles Binchois' live performance of Machaut is wonderful. I've watched it on-line, and I hope they made a DVD. The disc is good too, but not so involving as the live performance.
post #1585 of 8935

I don't know if this deserves a separate thread, but in thinking about great recordings, I wanted to solicit opinions on how tolerant Head-Fi'ers are of poor or historical sound.

 

For myself, I think of sound as an integral part of the listening experience, but I understand the importance of tradeoffs.  As a general rule of thumb, my preference is for clear analog sound from the early 70s a la Decca as the near ideal (or in audiophiledom, the best from Reference Recordings).  Some of this is about recording equipment and some of it is about microphone placement.  I adore the Culshaw opera recordings and generally downgrade vocal recordings where the singers stand in one place and the miking over favors singers vs. the orchestra.  I am also very forgiving of mild tape hiss but I despise overly etched digital highs. I tend to downgrade stuff that is multimiked and sounds as if it was blended and deprived of naturalness and soundstage depth.

 

Since I enjoy going to  live concerts that are almost always going to be worse than the best recorded performances we can buy, it's obvious that great sound and the live experience can trump weaker than ideal performances.  Anyone who says otherwise is saying that they never enjoy 99% of live concerts from even the top conductors.  So recordings occupy a middle ground with amazing sound elevating some good performances and horrible sound destroying some great work.

 

As a default minimum, I consider good mid fifties mono to be good enough.  Examples include the Callas Tosca or the Furtwangler Tristan.  But they have to be exceptional performances or else why bother when newer versions abound.  Noisy, distorted productions from the 1930s are usually out for me no matter how great the performance.  For the 1940s it usually depends.  Are there only modest irritants?  Is it truly an unusual performance?  How sonically complex is the piece?  For me that means that some Furtwangler is ok whereas most of Toscanini is not.  In general, I am less forgiving of early symphonic recordings and more tolerant of great operas when there are voices I want to hear.  But even then I struggle with many so-called "classics."

 

What are your views on this?

post #1586 of 8935
Quote:
Originally Posted by edgeworth View Post

I don't know if this deserves a separate thread, but in thinking about great recordings, I wanted to solicit opinions on how tolerant Head-Fi'ers are of poor or historical sound.

For mainstream classical music, there are enough modern recordings that you might not need to dip into historical recordings at first, and baroque music today is better than it ever was before... but when it comes to performers, there are certain areas where you would miss out on a LOT if you demand stereo and hi fi. In particular, opera- There are no performers in the stereo era who are comparable to the singers of Caruso's time, or the Wagnerians of the 30s. Soloists like Heifetz and Schnabel are irreplaceable, and there are no conductors today who even remotely compare with Toscanini, Furtwangler or Stokowski.

When you first become interested in classical music, it's all new to you and sound quality and the composition itself is all that is important. But when you get over the hump of familiarity with core repetoire, you start focusing on the particular performance, not just the work. That's when the soloist and conductor become as important as the composer and work were in the beginning. You come to realize that the performer is an equal participant, and performers with unique and personal approaches are rare treasures.

It's good to keep your mind open to historical recordings, even if you haven't gotten to the point where you're ready to explore them yet. There's a world of great music from the past that flat out no longer exists. You'd be cheating yourself of the things that really matter if you judge just by sound quality.

If you are a fan of Wagner, I can share a recording from 1935 with you that will satisfy you on every level- even sound quality.
Edited by bigshot - 4/7/14 at 6:44pm
post #1587 of 8935
I don't care about sound quality. Many of the greatest piano records are from the 30s (sometimes live, so you can imagine how that sounds). Worse sound sometimes helps me focus by forcing me to listen very attentively.

If you make a separate thread, I'll comment more there.
post #1588 of 8935

For me it's a totally different experience to listen to a poorly recorded great performance than to hear something that's well recorded. In the latter case, it can trigger the same pleasure I feel at a live event.  With the former I am definitely in imaginative listening mode which involves being analytical and trying to listen through the recording for performance details.

 

In those cases, I prefer to listen on bad stereo equipment. I find it easier to listen to early opera (especially Wagner whose operas I love) over my desktop cheapo stereo system than on the full rig.  In many cases this is how I came to appreciate Furtwangler and early Callas and the great Wagnerians of the 40s and early 50s.  The car is also a good place for me to listen to mono recordings as good stereo is wasted while driving.

 

As you know bigshot, we differ on sound priorities.  I was watching some nice dvds of opera recently and so long as the stereo info was weak I enjoyed the opera.  But sometimes, it would be possible to visualize the location of the singers (e.g. stage right) but then the camera would jump from a long shot of the singer to a close up and the disjunction between the fixed and accurate localization of the sound with the discordant images being in two places destroyed the illusion for me.  So that's one case where weaker sound is often a blessing. 

 

And yes, I'd like to know which 1935 Wagner recording this is.

post #1589 of 8935
Listen on your main stereo...

Wagner Die Walkure Act 1: Bruno Walter/VPO, Lehmann, Melchior, List 1935
http://www.vintageip.com/xfers/walkureact1walter1935.mp3
post #1590 of 8935
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Listen on your main stereo...

Wagner Die Walkure Act 1: Bruno Walter/VPO, Lehmann, Melchior, List 1935
http://www.vintageip.com/xfers/walkureact1walter1935.mp3

 

Oh, come on, just buy the CD for God's sake! It's that good.

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