The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This Philips import pressing of Dvorak's classical masterpieces boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from the first note to the last
- The orchestral passages are rich and sweet, the violin present, its harmonics gloriously intact
- We audiophiles are fortunate indeed that a violinist of Accardo’s skill and taste recorded this piece for Philips at a time when their recording technology was still capable of capturing the sound of his violin in rich, warm, sweet, clear ANALOG
- A SUPERB performance from Salvatore Accardo, certainly competitive with the best we have heard - we know of none better
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Yes, it was still possible to record classical music properly in 1980, though not many labels managed to pull it off. (Londons from this era are especially opaque and airless. We find them as irritating and frustrating as most of the Heavy Vinyl releases being foisted on the audiophile public today.)
The orchestral passages are rich and sweet, the violin present, its harmonic colors gloriously intact. This is still ANALOG, with the better copies displaying much of the Tubey Magic of ’50s and ’60s vinyl without as much compressor distortion (the Achilles’ heel of so many of the great recordings from the Golden Era).
Accardo is an accomplished performer of the works of Paganini, but those recordings are on DG and we would not expect them to be of acceptable audio quality for our customers. We will investigate further of course, as Paganini’s works for violin are some of the most sublime in the repertoire.
This vintage Philips 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 Violin Concerto and Romance 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 even as late as 1980
- 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 and this is no exception. 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 Violin Concerto and Romance
- 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.
Avoiding the Smear
This copy had relatively little smear on either the violin or the orchestra. Try to find a violin concerto record with no smear. We often say that Shaded Dogs, being vintage All Tube recordings, tend to have tube smear. But what about the '70s Transistor Mastered Red Label pressings - where does their smear come from?
Let's face it: records from every era more often than not have some smear and we can never really know what accounts for it. The key thing is to be able to recognize it for what it is.
(We find modern records, especially those pressed at RTI, to be quite smeary as a rule. They also tend to be congested, blurry, thick, veiled, and ambience-challenged. For some reason most audiophiles -- and the reviewers who write for them -- rarely seem to be bothered by these shortcomings, if they notice them at all.)
Of course, if your system itself has smear -- every tube system I have ever heard has some smear; it comes with the territory -- it becomes harder to hear smear on your records. Our current all-transistor rig has no trouble showing it to us.
Keep in mind that one thing live music never has is smear of any kind. Live music is smear-free. It can be harmonically distorted, hard, edgy, thin, fat, dark, and fail in any number of other ways, but one thing it never is, is smeary. That is a shortcoming unique to the reproduction of music, and one for which many of the pressings we sell are downgraded.
Cisco Heavy Vinyl
In our listing for the Cisco record with Milstein we noted:
Some of the sweetest violin tone on Heavy Vinyl you will ever hear. For modern vinyl this one gets a very high recommendation. The domestic originals we’ve played have been uniformly awful so pick up this Cisco pressing if the price is right, assuming you can stand the lack of ambience and resolution that Heavy Vinyl consistently suffers from. We have not played this record in many years and would probably like it much less now than we did at the time of its release.
Which is a roundabout way of saying that there is practically no chance we would prefer the Milstein to this Accardo recording. The Cisco is a good record for what it is, especially if you can get one for under fifty bucks or so. The Accardo is a great record and worth the hundreds of dollars we would ask for a top copy, assuming you have the kind of stereo capable of resolving the information found on these vintage pressings (and nowhere else it seems).
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.
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.
- Violin Concerto In A Minor, Op. 53
- Romance In F Minor, Op 11 For Violin And Orchestra