The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus to EX++
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus to EX++
- Outstanding Living Stereo sound throughout this vintage Shaded Dog pressing, with both sides earning Double Plus (A++) grades
- An abundance of energy, loads of rich detail and texture, superb transparency and excellent clarity - the very definition of Demo Disc sound
- This record will have you asking why so few Living Stereo pressings actually do what this one does. The more critical listeners among you will recognize that this is a very special copy indeed. Everyone else will just enjoy the hell out of it.
- Problems 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
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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
This vintage Shaded Dog 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 Mysterious Mountain / The Fairy's Kiss: Divertimento 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 1958
- 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.
Learning the Record
For our shootout for this album, we had at our disposal a variety of pressings that had the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman'd it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.
If you have five or more copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what's right and what's wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the other pressings do not do as well, using a few carefully chosen passages of music, it quickly becomes obvious how well a given copy can reproduce those passages. You'll hear what's better and worse -- right and wrong would be another way of putting it -- about the sound.
This approach is simplicity itself. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle -- or fail -- to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
It may be a lot of work but it sure ain't rocket science, and we've never pretended otherwise. Just the opposite: from day one we've explained step by step precisely how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection. Not the good sounding pressings you happen to own -- those may or may not have Hot Stampers -- but the records you actually cleaned, shot out, and declared victorious.
What We're Listening For On Mysterious Mountain / The Fairy's Kiss: Divertimento
- 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.
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.
- Mysterious Mountain, Op. 132 (Symphony No. 2)
- Moderato Maestoso
- Allegro Vivo
- Andante Espressivo
- The Fairy's Kiss: Divertimento
- Danses Suisses
- Pas De Deux
Wikipedia on Mysterious Mountain / Symphony No. 2
Symphony No. 2, Op. 132, Mysterious Mountain is a three-movement orchestral composition by the Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness. The symphony was commissioned by the conductor Leopold Stokowski and the Houston Symphony, and premiered live on NBC television in October 1955 on the Houston Symphony's first program with Stokowski as conductor. The first and most popular recording of the work, released in 1958 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing under Fritz Reiner, is often regarded as the foremost performance of the piece. This recording, like early performances of the work, predates the composer's decision to categorize the work "symphony." Later on, the G. Schirmer published score was titled Mysterious Mountain with "Symphony No. 2" printed as a subtitle in smaller typeface.
Contemporary critical reception to Mysterious Mountain was positive and it remains one of Hovhaness's most popular works. In 1995, Lawrence Johnson of the Chicago Tribune said the symphony "still amazes today" and that it "anticipated by nearly 40 years the spiritual, meditative quasi-minimalism of composers such as Pärt, Tavener and Górecki." Edward Greenfield of Gramophone noted similarities in the piece to the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams and favorably commented, "'Mountains are symbols, like pyramids, of man's attempt to know God', says the composer, and his spiritual purpose is expressed in the modal writing of the Andante outer movements, with overtones of Vaughan Williams pastoral as well as of Tallis, framing a central fugue characteristically smooth in its lines. The finale, at the start sounding like 'Tallis Fantasia meets Parsifal,' culminates in a chorale leading to a grandiose conclusion."
Wikipedia on Le baiser de la fée (The Fairy's Kiss)
Le Baiser de la fée (The Fairy's Kiss) is a neoclassical ballet in one act and four scenes composed by Igor Stravinsky in 1928 and revised in 1950 for George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet. Based on Hans Christian Andersen's short story Isjomfruen (English: The Ice-Maiden), the work is an homage to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, for the 35th anniversary of the composer's death. Stravinsky elaborated several melodies from early piano pieces and songs by Tchaikovsky in his score. A commission by Ida Rubinstein from 1927, the ballet was choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska and premiered in Paris on 27 November 1928.
The Divertimento from Le Baiser de la fée is a concert suite for orchestra based on music from the ballet. Stravinsky arranged it in collaboration with Samuel Dushkin in 1934 and revised it in 1949. It has four movements:
- Danses suisses
- Scherzo (Au moulin)
- Pas de deux
In 1932 Samuel Dushkin and the composer produced a version for violin and piano, using the same title. Another episode from the ballet was arranged for violin and piano by Dushkin with the title Ballad. However, the latter only received the composer’s assent in 1947 after the French violinist Jeanne Gautier put forward an arrangement.
Balanchine created an entirely new work for the City Ballet's Stravinsky Festival, using excerpts from the concert suite and the original ballet. The premiere took place on 21 June 1972, at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center. In 1974, Balanchine incorporated Tchaikovsky's "None but the Lonely Heart" for a new pas de deux.