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Chopin - Piano Concerto No. 1 / Rubinstein - White Hot Stamper (With Issues)

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

White Hot Stamper (With Issues)

Piano Concerto No. 1 / Rubinstein

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*

  • Rubinstein's superb performance of Chopin's concerto for piano, here with INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Living Stereo sound or close to it on both sides of this original Shaded Dog pressing
  • Here are just a few of the things we had to say about this stunning copy in our notes: "no smear" (side one)..."round and rich and present piano"..."lush strings"..."much more string texture and dynamics" (side two)..."top detail" (side two)
  • So big and transparent, with weight and heft to the brass, 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…”
  • Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings - there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you

More of the music of Frederic Chopin (1810 - 1849) / More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 20 times at a moderate level a few rotations into the last movement on side 2.

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 The Best Sides Of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 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.
  • 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.


Kenneth Wilkinson engineered this album in Kingsway Hall for Decca in 1961.

It's as wide, deep and three-dimensional as any, which is, of course, all to the good, but what makes the sound of these recordings so special is the timbral accuracy of the instruments in every section.

This is the kind of record that will make you want to take all your heavy vinyl classical pressings and put them in storage. They cannot begin to sound the way this record sounds. (Before you put them in storage or on Ebay please play them against this pressing so that you can be confident in your decision to rid yourself of their mediocrity.)

Quality record production is a lost art, and it's been lost for a very long time.

Vinyl Condition

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.

A Must Own Classical Record

This Demo Disc quality recording should be part of any serious Classical Music Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.

Side One

Concerto No. 1 In E Minor, Op. 11

  • Allegro Maestoso

Side Two

  • Romanze. Larghetto
  • Rondo. Vivace

musicweb-international Review

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...

-Ian Lace