The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This rare and wonderful TAS-approved Japanese import LP boasts INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Demo Disc sound on both sides
- You will have a hard time finding a better recording of the piano than this - it’s one of the all time great Direct-to-Discs
- It's simply bigger, more transparent, less distorted, more three-dimensional and more REAL than all of what we played
- A famous resident of the TAS list, this album offers excellent music, performed with feeling, and recorded properly, the best of all possible worlds for us audiophiles
- A friend of ours tells me that Kamiya plays this piece exactly the way Horowitz did, and that’s probably a good thing - good luck finding a Horowitz recording that sounds like this!
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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 5 times at a light to moderate level about 1/3 of the way into side 1.
This vintage RCA import 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 Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 23 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 1977
- 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.
We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn't, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.
Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded that open and clear. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one or two clean copies with which to do a shootout? These records are expensive and hard to come by in good shape. Believe us, we know whereof we speak.
One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain more involving. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it's an entirely different -- and dare I say unforgettable -- listening experience.
What We're Listening For On "Appassionata"
- 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.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around the piano.
- 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.
- Piano Sonata No. 23 In F Minor, Op. 57 “Appassionata”
- Allegro Assai
- Piano Sonata No. 23 In F Minor, Op. 57 “Appassionata”
- Andante Con Moto
- Allegro Ma Non Troppo
Wikipedia on Piano Sonata No. 23
Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 (colloquially known as the Appassionata, meaning "passionate" in Italian) is among the three famous piano sonatas of his middle period (the others being the Waldstein, Op. 53 and Les Adieux, Op. 81a); it was composed during 1804 and 1805, and perhaps 1806, and was dedicated to Count Franz von Brunswick. The first edition was published in February 1807 in Vienna.
Unlike the early Sonata No. 8, Pathétique, the Appassionata was not named during the composer's lifetime, but was so labelled in 1838 by the publisher of a four-hand arrangement of the work. Instead, Beethoven's autograph manuscript of the sonata has "La Passionata" written on the cover, in Beethoven's hand.
One of his greatest and most technically challenging piano sonatas, the Appassionata was considered by Beethoven to be his most tempestuous piano sonata until the twenty-ninth piano sonata (known as the Hammerklavier). 1803 was the year Beethoven came to grips with the irreversibility of his progressively deteriorating hearing.
The sonata, in F minor, consists of three movements:
- Allegro assai
- Andante con moto
- Allegro ma non troppo – Presto
A sonata-allegro form in 12/8 time, the first movement progresses quickly through startling changes in tone and dynamics, and is characterised by an economic use of themes.The main theme, in octaves, is quiet and ominous. It consists of a down-and-up arpeggio in dotted rhythm that cadences on the tonicized dominant, immediately repeated a semitone higher (in G♭). This use of the Neapolitan chord (i.e. the flattened supertonic) is an important structural element in the work, also being the basis of the main theme of the finale.
As in Beethoven's Waldstein sonata, the coda is unusually long, containing quasi-improvisational arpeggios which span most of the early 19th-century piano's range. The choice of F minor becomes very clear when one realises that this movement makes frequent use of the deep, dark tone of the lowest F1 on the piano, which was the lowest note available to Beethoven at the time.
The total performance time of this movement is usually between 8+1⁄2 and 11 minutes.
Andante con moto
A set of variations in D♭ major, on a theme remarkable for its melodic simplicity combined with the use of unusually thick voicing and a peculiar counter-melody in the bass. Its sixteen bars (repeated) consist of nothing but common chords, set in a series of four- and two-bar phrases that all end on the tonic. (See image.) The four variations follow:
- i. Similar to the original theme, with the left hand playing on the off-beats.
- ii. An embellishment of the theme in sixteenth notes.
- iii. A rapid embellishment in thirty-second notes. A double variation, with the hands switching parts.
- iv. A reprise of the original theme without repeats and with the phrases displaced in register.
The fourth variation ends with a deceptive cadence containing the dominant chord that resolves to a soft diminished seventh, followed by a much louder diminished seventh that serves as a transition (without pause) to the finale.
The total performance time of this movement is about 6 to 8 minutes.
Allegro ma non troppo – Presto
A sonata-allegro in near-perpetual motion in which, very unusually, the second part is directed to be repeated, and not the first. It has much in common with the first movement, including extensive use of the Neapolitan sixth chord and several written-out cadenzas. The movement climaxes with a faster coda (at presto speed as seen above and in many editions) introducing a new theme which in turn leads into an extended final cadence in F minor. According to Donald Francis Tovey this is one of only a handful of Beethoven's works in sonata form that ends in tragedy (the others being the C minor Piano Trio, Piano Sonata Op. 27 no. 2 ("Moonlight"), and the Violin Sonata Op. 30 no. 2.).
The total performance time of this movement is about 7 to 8 minutes with the repeats and about 5+1⁄2 to 6 minutes without them.