The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*
- With two stunning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) Living Stereo sides, this early Shaded Dog pressing of these wonderful Romantic works is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
- Heifetz's performance of the Scottish Fantasy on side two is one of our favorites
- The orchestral passages are rich and sweet, the violin present, with all of its harmonics gloriously intact
- As usual for a Living Stereo Heifetz violin recording, he is front and center, with every movement of his bow clearly reproduced without being hyped-up in the least
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*NOTE: This record was not noisy enough to rate our M-- to EX++ grade, but it's not quite up to our standards for Mint Minus Minus either. If you're looking for quiet vinyl, this is probably not the best copy for you.
These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that's often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers ("relative" meaning relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don't agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.
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
If you want to demonstrate the magic of Living Stereo recordings, jump right to the second movement of the Bruch. The sonority of the massed strings is to die for. When Heifetz enters, the immediacy of his violin further adds to the transcendental quality of the experience. Sonically and musically it doesn’t get much better than this, on Living Stereo or anywhere else.
The violin is captured beautifully on side two. More importantly, there is a lovely lyricism in Heifetz’s playing which suits Bruch’s Romantic work perfectly. I know of no better performance.
The Bruch brings to mind some of Tchaikovsky’s works. It’s so sweet and melodic, it completely draws you into its world of sound. This is a work of unsurpassed beauty, music that belongs in any serious classical collection.
The performance of the Vieuxtemps Concerto No. 5 is also wonderful, and the Romantic music is much better than I remember it from our last shootout.
What The Best Sides Of Scottish Fantasy / Concerto No. 5 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 1962
- 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.
What We're Listening For On Scottish Fantasy / Concerto No. 5
- 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.
I’ve commented often over the years of the benefits to be gained from listening to classical music regularly. Once a week is a good rule of thumb, I would say. I love rock and roll, jazz and all the rest of it, but there is something about classical music that restores a certain balance in your musical life that can’t be accomplished by other means. It grounds your listening experience to something perhaps less immediately gratifying but deeper and more enriching over time. Once habituated, the effect on one’s mood is not hard to recognize.
Of course it should be pointed out that the average classical record is a sonic disaster. There are many excellent pressings of rock and jazz, but when it comes to classical music, being so much more difficult to record (and reproduce!), the choices are substantially more narrow. Most of what passed for good classical sound when I was coming up in audio -- the DGs, EMIs, Sheffields and other audiophile pressings-- are hard to listen to on the modern equipment of today.
I would say we audition at least five records for every one we think might pass muster in a future shootout, and we’re pulling only from the labels we know to be good. I wouldn’t even take the time to play the average Angel, Columbia or DG, or EMI for that matter. The losers vastly outweigh the winners, and there are only so many hours in a day. Who has the time?
All that said, it should be clear that assembling a top quality classical collection requires much more in the way of resources -- money and time -- than it would for any other genre of music. We are happy to do the work for you -- our best classical pressings are amazing in every way -- potentially saving you a lifetime of work...at a price of course.
It should go without saying that this original pressing kills the Classic reissue, and the Classic version is one of the better Classics. Still, it’s no match for the real thing, not even close.
The Classic is airless, smeary and low-rez, which means that all the subtleties of the music and the performance will be much more difficult to appreciate. For $30 it’s not a bad record. I dare say that were you to hear this copy it would be all but impossible to sit through the Classic ever again. (That might be true for all Classic records — once you hear the real thing it’s hard to take them seriously.)
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.
- Concerto No. 5 In A Minor, Op. 37 - Vieuxtemps
- Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46 - Bruch
- First Movement: Introduction: Grave; Adagio Cantabile
- Second Movement: Allegro
- Third Movement: Andante Sostenuto
- Fourth Movement: Finale: Allegro Guerriero
The Scottish Fantasy
The Scottish Fantasy in E-flat major, Op. 46, is a composition for violin and orchestra by Max Bruch. Completed in 1880, it was dedicated to the virtuoso violinist Pablo de Sarasate.
It is a four movement fantasy on Scottish folk melodies. The fourth movement includes a sprightly arrangement of "Hey Tuttie Tatie," which is the tune in the patriotic anthem "Scots Wha Hae" (with lyrics by Robert Burns). The first movement is built on a tune variously identified as "Auld Rob Morris" or "Through the Wood Laddie." This tune also appears at the end of the second and fourth movements. The second movement is built around "The Dusty Miller," and the third on "I’m A’ Doun for Lack O’ Johnnie."
In paying homage to Scottish tradition (although the composer never visited Scotland), Bruch’s composition gives a prominent place to the harp in the instrumental accompaniment to the violin.
The Scottish Fantasy is one of the several signature pieces by Bruch which are still widely heard today, along with the first violin concerto and the Kol Nidrei for cello and orchestra.