The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, this Shaded Dog pressing is among the best sounding Chopin First Piano Concertos we have ever heard
- So big and transparent, with weight and heft to the brass like no other, we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto recording (unless you already one of our White Hot Stamper LPs)
- The secret to the superior sound of this particular Rubinstein recording over so many others is the engineering by Kenneth Wilkinson – the glorious hall the London Symphony plays in doesn’t hurt either
- Chopin, according to Arthur Hedley, “had the rare gift of a very personal melody, expressive of heart-felt emotion, and his music is penetrated by a poetic feeling that has an almost universal appeal…”
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We heard dramatically more layered depth and more hall than we were accustomed to from the dozen or so RCA Rubinstein recordings that we’ve auditioned over the years. This is a closer approximation of live music than we were expecting, and in that sense it came as an exceedingly pleasant surprise. The shootout has been years in the making, with some copies waiting for their day in the spotlight over ten years.
The strings have lovely Living Stereo (Decca-engineered) texture as well. As befits a Wilkinson recording from 1961, there is no shortage of clarity to balance out the Tubey Magical warmth and richness.
(We have lately been surveying some of his recordings from the late-’60s and ’70s to our great disappointment. The All Tube Recording Chain was gone. Opacity and lack of warmth prevented us from proceeding with any shootouts we might have attempted.)
And for those who prefer original pressings to reissues, here is the record that makes your case. None of the White Dogs or Red Seal reissues could hold a candle to the real Shaded Dog label LPs. They are in a league of their own.
We love the huge, Tubey Magical sound of this recording. The piano is solid and powerful — like a real piano.
Tremendous hall space, weight and energy, this is DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND by any standard.
What Amazing Sides Such as These 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 1961
- 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.
As we noted above, the Shaded Dog pressings did the best in our shootout. Some White Dogs can also be good, but not as good, in the 2+ range. None of the plain Red Seal reissues from the ’70’s had anything approaching the weight, the richness, or the Tubey Magic of the good original pressings. If you are doing your own shootouts, stick with Shaded Dogs.
What We're Listening For on Chopin's Concerto No. 1
- 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.
- Tight punchy 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 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. 1 In E Minor, Op. 11
- Allegro Maestoso
- Romanze. Larghetto
- Rondo. Vivace
Just listen to the sparkling crystalline clarity of Rubinstein’s every note and chord - even in the fastest trills and runs.
... Rubinstein heeds Chopin’s words in his reading of this movement, “it’s not meant to be loud – it’s more of a romance, quiet, melancholic ... it’s a sort of meditation in beautiful spring weather but by moonlight”. Rubinstein is all delicacy and sweet tenderness unfolding the intimacies, the yearnings and passions implicit in this lovely music, making us know what it is like to be a young man transported by love.
The equally celebrated slow movement of the Chopin Concerto No. 1 is another example of rarefied cantabile pianism; actually marked Romance, Larghetto. Rubinstein’s playing has all the romantic grace of a prima ballerina slowly floating by on points...