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Best classical recordings...ever! - Page 5

post #61 of 9057
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

...most classical recordings have great sound.

Seriously? Not. Most newer ones have good to great, but there are still too many that have mediocre and even poor sound. Try some Melodiyas if you dare. There are some recent Naxos recordings that have awful sound: Scheherazade from Seattle comes to mind. I have some really pricey Extons which are supposed to be so great sounding from Sydney with Ashkenazy that sound no better than a 1960's recording. Even Pentatone has it share of clunkers. The German label Tacet has some great sounding disks. Most of the RCAs I've picked up the last few years sound fantastic. CPO does a great job, and their SACDs are marvelous. The Ref Recs in HDCD sound incredible when played on an player that can decode HDCD, and still sound great in regular cd - but not always! Too bad Telarc is out of the business, the used to have a really high batting average.

post #62 of 9057
Sound quality has nothing to do with age or label. It depends on the individual recording. But by and large, since the debut of hifi in 1951, most classical records have sounded good. The only possible general exception would be DGG in the 70s when multi miking was abused.
Edited by bigshot - 10/16/12 at 10:00pm
post #63 of 9057

I currently have 3 recordings of Bach's Violin Concertos - Julia Fischer's Bach Concertos, Hilary Hahn's Bach Concertos, and Anne Akiko Meyers's Air: The Bach Album - and thought I'd share my thoughts on them.


First I should probably preface here that I play violin myself and was Suzuki-trained starting at age 6, though I quit lessons right before college and I've played on & off since for various local occasions. I have to mention this because it affects my perception of music, and more specifically, how I think certain composers should be played, like Bach. I was brought up to play Bach's works very methodically, always sticking exactly to a metronome - most likely in the very Baroque style that he composed in.


In that sense, my favorite performance by far is Julia Fischer's, because that's essentially how she plays too, except that she generally takes a brisk tempo to Bach's works. Some musicians might perceive her as playing a bit too fast, but personally I love it and I think her tempo is just right. Her bow strokes are very precise too on the fast movements, but she also takes very legato bow strokes when necessary on the slower movements. Fischer is definitely someone I'd love to hear play Vivaldi's Spring - I think she'd nail exactly the kind of style that I'd love to hear.


Hilary Hahn's CD, on the other hand, is at an even faster tempo overall, plus she adds spontaneous accelerandos (and decelerandos) and often inserts extra notes. Which is one of the things I personally find annoying - IMO a performer should never be adding in-between notes to a dead composer's masterpiece.


Anne Akiko Meyers slows down the tempo overall and makes the concertos sound more like Romantic-era pieces with lulls and wide violin strokes, to drag out the notes. Which threw me off at first, but I found it very interesting.


All 3 CDs sound really good on my electrostatic headphone system, but Julia Fischer's is probably the best-sounding and definitely my favorite classical-music benchmark yet. The Anne Akiko Meyers CD sounds exceptional too.


Another violinist I'm starting to collect is Nicola Benedetti. Her CD Fantasie has some exceptional performances, like her "Meditation from Thais" (by far my favorite Romantic-era symphonic interlude) and "Spiegel Im Spiegel". Great recording quality on this CD too.

post #64 of 9057

This one will probably surprise you.




Check out his double concerto on Living Stereo too.

Edited by bigshot - 10/16/12 at 10:46pm
post #65 of 9057

^ Those are very good performances too, but I find Heifetz's use of legato to be distracting after hearing Julia Fischer's martelé- & spiccato-loaded version. redface.gif I think Fischer's light & fast bowing works perfectly for Bach and Baroque music in general.

Edited by Asr - 10/16/12 at 11:32pm
post #66 of 9057
I'm partial to Hahn over Fischer, but that's not solely based on her Bach work. She has a more interesting repertoire, imo. I should do a side by side on the Bach work.
post #67 of 9057

+1 for Julia Fischer Bach concertos. On a side note, I have used her performances of the double violin concerto every time I wanted to "sell" Bach to someone new to classical, and so far it has always worked...

post #68 of 9057

Thanks for some of the suggestions, all.


Dorian is another label I thought was very good in terms of sound quality.


For a while I've been partial to many of the Delos recordings of American composers, such as Hanson, Diamond, Piston, Hovanness, etc.


Do people here have a favourite headphone for listening to classical?

post #69 of 9057

Heifetz's use of legato is what makes him great! His expression and phrasing is fantastically judged and executed. That is MUCH more difficult than just playing the music through straight, fast and bland. Just try to make some of those sounds that Heifetz makes yourself. You'll see how precise it really is.

post #70 of 9057

Anyone here have any thoughts about the Chandos label? I like their focus on the British Isles. Lovely sounding recordings, but I heard some suspicion that they do studio manipulation after the recording-- adding reverb or what have you for a richer sound. Perhaps this is not uncommon with classical recordings, I don't know. Has anyone here heard about this regarding Chandos specifically? Thoughts on this?

post #71 of 9057

I bet that isn't added. They probably just record in a hall with more reverberation than you're used to.

post #72 of 9057

There is something to the "Chandos Sound". It's a warm, rounded sound - sharp edges, pristine clear sound, sometimes a bit distant. Not to say it's bad...it's usually great. Depends on where it was recorded. Some of the recordings from Moscow are average, most of the BBC recordings are superb. When they were recording in Detroit and Chicago they made some great sounding disks. But their sound isn't upclose in your face. It wears well on the ear. If we were reduced to having only one classical label, Chandos would be my choice. For the Bax series if nothing else!

post #73 of 9057
post #74 of 9057

I used to be very fond of the Chandos "sound" but have gradually come to think it pretty artificial.  It's definitely seductively lush and big but, in most cases, not especially realistic or natural compared to what you actually hear at a live performance.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to hear confirmation of post-production manipulation such as adding reverb, etc. by Chandos engineers.


I've also noticed that the better the quality of your playback equipment, the more artificial sounding is the Chandos "sound".


And, as to a favorite headphone for classical music, I totally love my HE-500's! though they're my first and only headphone so far so I can't compare.

Edited by Andolink - 10/23/12 at 6:33pm
post #75 of 9057
Back in the LP era, I was never very happy with Columbia's recordings of the NYPO. But recently I got the Bernstein symphonies box and it's a revelation. I was listening to the Age of Anxiety symphony today and the focus of the soundstage on my speaker system was phenominal. I could place every instrument in the orchestra.
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