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Debussy - Clair de Lune / Massenet, Faure, Bach, et al. / Agoult - Super Hot Stamper

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

Super Hot Stamper

Debussy
Clair de Lune / Agoult

Regular price
$199.99
Regular price
Sale price
$199.99
Unit price
per 
Availability
Sold out

Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)

  • A superb UK pressing with Nearly Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side, giving you not only a wonderful Clair De Lune, but a number of shorter works by Faure, Massenet and Elgar as well
  • Solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second side for meditative pieces by Bach, Tchaikovsky and others
  • I can't imagine a more beautiful record, both in terms of the programme and the sound - this record is a wonderful example of what the Decca recording engineers (Kenneth Wilkinson in this case) were able to capture on tape
  • It's the exact same recording as the famous Living Stereo Clair De Lune, LSC-2326, but with a couple of extra tracks included
  • These sides are rich, sweet and full-bodied - fairly quiet vinyl too

More of the music of Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

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Transparent and spacious, wide and naturally staged, clean yet rich, with zero coloration, there is nothing here to fault. Nearly Triple Plus all the way. So relaxed and natural you will soon find yourself lost in the music.

It's yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording. We were impressed with the fact that it excelled in so many areas of reproduction. The illusion of disappearing speakers is one of the more attractive aspects of the sound here, pulling the listener into the space of the concert hall in an especially engrossing way.

The 1959 master has been transferred brilliantly using "modern" cutting equipment (from 1970, not the low-rez junk they're forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound that only the best of both worlds can offer.

What the best sides of this superb pressing 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 1959
  • 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.

Critically Important Adjustments (for Critical Listeners)

This is an excellent record for adjusting tracking weight, VTA, azimuth and the like. Classical music is really the ultimate test for proper turntable/arm/cartridge setup (and evaluation). A huge and powerful recording such as this quickly separates the men from the boys stereo-wise. Recordings of this quality are the reason there are $10,000+ front ends in the first place. You don't need to spend that kind of money to play this record, but if you do, this is the record that will show you what you got for your hard-earned money.

Ideally you would want to work your setup magic at home with this record, then take it to a friend's house and see if you can achieve the same results. I've done this sort of thing for years. Sadly, not so much anymore; nobody I know can play records like these the way we can. Playing and critically evaluating records all day, every day, year after year, you get pretty good at it. And the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Properly set VTA is especially critical on this record, as it is on most classical recordings. The smallest change will dramatically affect the timbre, texture and harmonic information of the strings, as well as the rest of instruments of the orchestra.

Heavy Vinyl

You can be pretty sure of two things when you hear a record of this quality: one, the original won't sound as good, having been cut on cruder equipment.

And two, no modern recutting of the tapes (by the likes of Speakers Corner for example, but you can substitute any company you care to name) could begin to capture this kind of natural orchestral sound.

I have never heard a Heavy Vinyl pressing begin to do what this record is doing. The Decca we have here may be a budget reissue pressing, but it was mastered by real Decca engineers, pressed in England on high quality vinyl, from fairly fresh tapes (twelve years old, not fifty years old!), then mastered about as well as a record can be mastered. The sound is, above all, REAL and BELIEVABLE.

What We're Listening For on Claire de Lune

  • 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.

Engineering

Kenneth Wilkinson engineered in Walthamstow Assembly Hall. There is a richness to the sound that is exceptional, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least.

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.)

Vinyl Condition

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.

Side One

  • Thaïs - Meditation (Massenet)
  • Chant Sans Paroles, Op 2 No. 3 (Tchaikovsky)
  • Pavane (Faure)
  • Dream Children, Op. 43, Nos. 1 And 2 (Elgar)/li>
  • Suite Bergamasque - Clair De Lune (Debussy)

Side Two

  • Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme - Choral Variation (Bach)
  • String Quartet In D, Op. 11 - Andante Cantabile (Tchaikovsky)
  • Orfeo - Dance Of The Blessed Spirits (Gluck)
  • La Vierge - Dernier Sommeil De La Vierge