The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Superb Double Plus (A++) Living Stereo sound brings these popular 20th century works to life on this vintage Shaded Dog pressing
- The orchestra is wide, tall, spacious, rich and tubey, yet the dynamics and transparency are first rate
- Spacious, rich and smooth - only vintage analog seems capable of reproducing all three of these qualities without sacrificing resolution, staging, imaging or presence
More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) / More of the music of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
This vintage Shaded Dog pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Lieutenant Kije / Song Of The Nightingale Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1958
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren't veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we've heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
Size and Space
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small -- they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies -- my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” -- create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
And most of the time those very special pressings are just plain more involving. When you hear a copy that does all that -- a copy like this one -- it’s an entirely different listening experience.
What We're Listening For On Lieutenant Kije / Song Of The Nightingale
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Powerful bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- Lieutenant Kije, Op. 60
- The Birth Of Kije
- The Wedding Of Kije
- The Burial Of Kije
- Song Of The Nightingale
The suite, in five movements broadly follows the plot:
- 1. The Birth of Kijé's: Emperor Paul, listening to a report, mishears a phrase and concludes that the lieutenant exists. He demands that "Kijé" be promoted to his elite guard. It is an offence to contradict the Tsar, so the palace administrators must invent someone of that name.
- 2. Romance. The fictional lieutenant falls in love.
- 3. The Wdding of Kijé. Since the Tsar prefers his heroic soldiers to be married, the administrators concoct a fake wedding. The vodka that the Tsar approves for this event is very real.
- 4. Troika.
- 5. The Burial of Kijé. The administrators finally rid themselves of the non-existent lieutenant by saying he has died. The Tsar expresses his sadness, and the civil servants heave a sigh of relief.
According to the score, the duration of the Suite is 18 minutes.
Wikipedia on The Song of the Nightingale
Le chant du rossignol (English: The Song of the Nightingale) is a symphonic poem written by Igor Stravinsky in 1917. The score is adapted from his earlier work, Le rossignol (The Nightingale), an opera from 1914. The opera, based on Hans Christian Andersen's 1843 tale "The Nightingale," is set in three acts, told from the point of view of a Chinese fisherman. In the orchestral version, Stravinsky mostly uses music from acts two and three.
The opera Le rossignol, the first act written in 1908 and the later two in 1913–14, was Stravinsky's first opera. The delay between writing the first and the latter acts was caused by his commissions to write The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring for impresario Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. After this lapse of time, during which Stravinsky established himself as a ballet composer, he was unsure of returning to Le rossignol, and although he did finish it, he chose to also create a purely symphonic version, Le chant du rossignol.
In his autobiography, Stravinsky writes:
I reached the conclusion—very regretfully, since I was the author of many works for the theatre—that a perfect rendering can be achieved only in the concert hall, because the stage presents a combination of several elements upon which the music has often to depend, so that it cannot rely upon the exclusive consideration which it receives at a concert. I was confirmed in this view when two months later, under the direction of ... [Ernest] Ansermet, Le Chant du Rossignol was given as a ballet by Diaghilev at the Paris Opera.
Symphonic debutLe chant du rossignol's symphonic debut was on December 6, 1919, in Geneva, conducted by Ernest Ansermet at the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. It was met with criticism, much like that of The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky's nontraditional use of dissonance and instruments was unwelcome in later performances of the piece as well. It is possibly due to this public reaction that he then let Diaghilev turn it into a ballet.
The piece's ballet debut occurred on February 2, 1920, at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra in Paris. The choreography was by Leonid Massine and designs by Henri Matisse. This also was met with some skepticism; Stravinsky himself was not entirely pleased. "I had destined Le Chant du Rossignol for the concert platform, and a choreographic rendering seemed to me to be quite unnecessary," he says later in his autobiography.
Stravinsky agreed to do a revival of the ballet in 1925. Originally, the choreography was to be Massine's, but when that fell through, Diaghilev chose one of his newest students, George Balanchine, to choreograph the ballet. This is when Stravinsky first met Balanchine, who later became his most important creative partner.
The Diaghilev and Stravinsky relationship weakened during Le chant du rossignol, as each liked to be the director in charge. As Balanchine was allowed more of a role, however, it was clear that the Balanchine-Stravinsky relationship was a lasting one. They had similar taste in art, music, and movement and lived to create. Stravinsky and Balanchine continued as a team for several years, creating a number of famous ballets.
The ballet follows the main plot line of Stravinsky's Le rossignol, based on Andersen's The Nightingale. The first scene shows the Nightingale singing (or in this case, dancing) for the Emperor of China, who is pleased. In the music, the song of the nightingale is chromatic and swooping, it sounds free and natural, like the song of a bird. The second scene introduces the gift of the mechanical nightingale from the Emperor of Japan. All are mesmerized by its song and ignore the real Nightingale, who flies away. The music here is short and clear, without the smooth runs of the "real" Nightingale and more sounds of a mechanical automaton.
In the third scene, the Emperor meets Death, due to illness and suffering from having lost the nightingale. Then the Nightingale appears outside the Emperor's window and convinces Death to let the Emperor go. The final scene shows the courtiers discovering that the Emperor is now well, although his Nightingale leaves once again, returning to nature.
The story's themes include the natural versus the artificial, with the real Nightingale juxtaposed with its mechanical replacement. This was not the first (or last) piece by Stravinsky centered on the character of a bird, nor was it his first fascination with a seemingly perfect machine, as records tell us Stravinsky often preferred the sound of a mechanical pianola, to the human (and inevitably imperfect) performance on a real piano.
Movement with music
Stravinsky was always specific about the use of movement with music. He once said, "I do not see how one can be a choreographer unless, like Balanchine, one is a musician first", in praise of the famous choreographer who began working with Stravinsky for the revival of Le chant du rossignol. Balanchine was in fact a musician himself, and already a fan of Stravinsky's work. He was immediately willing to take the challenge, saying, "I learned the music well, and so ... when Diaghilev asked me to stage Stravinsky's ballet Le chant du rossignol, I was able to do it quickly."
Stravinsky did not record the music during his extensive recording sessions for Columbia Records, other than a 1932 reduction for violin and piano of Airs du rossignol and Marche chinoise only, recorded in 1933 with Samuel Dushkin on violin. However, Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recorded the ballet for RCA Victor in "Living Stereo," a pioneering process using triple track tape recorders and three microphones, in Chicago's Orchestra Hall. It was among RCA's first recordings to be released in stereo, in 1958.