The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades on side two with a Double Plus (A++) side one make this one of the consistently best sounding batch of Orchestral Showpieces we have ever played
- After a two year hiatus, our favorite performance of Night on Bald Mountain is back, and it's guaranteed to blow your mind (and maybe a woofer or two)
- Side one also boasts an excellent Danse Macabre, with a powerful finish that may remind you of the thrill of live orchestral music
- Clear and transparent, with huge hall space extending wall to wall and floor to ceiling, this is a sound that the modern reissue fails to reproduce utterly
- Watch your levels - this pressing is dramatically more DYNAMIC than most Golden Age recordings
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*A light mark near the start of track two makes six light ticks.
If you like Orchestral Spectaculars, have we got the record for you!
This pressing clearly has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND -- not in every way, but in some important ways. The ENERGY of both the sound and the performances of these barnburning showpieces is truly awesome. Fiedler brings this music to LIFE like no other conductor we have heard.
This pressing boasts relatively rich, sweet strings, especially for a Deutsche Grammophon LP. Both sides really get quiet in places, a sure sign that all the dynamics of the master tape were protected in the mastering of this copy (and the reason it is so hard to find a copy that plays better than Mint Minus Minus. We do have a quieter copy with lower grades if you are interested though.)
This original DG pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 audience, 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 We're Listening For on Danse Infernale
- 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 1976
- 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
DG in '76
We love the album, but sadly most copies range in sound from mediocre to bad -- dreadful in fact. If you’ve played a fair number of DG recordings over the years you might not have any trouble believing how mediocre the average one is.
Being a DG recording, one of the things you won’t be demonstrating with this record is 1950's Living Stereo Tubey Magical string tone. It’s just not part of the DG sound -- not in 1976 anyway. In the '50s DG had a very different sound as you might imagine; we've played those '50s records and we know just how wonderful they can sound. Finding them in clean condition is the hard part.
That said, this record is ALIVE, and that counts for a lot here at Better Records. Here are the dynamics that are rarely heard outside of the concert hall, as well as wonderful spaciousness, openness and depth. Note especially how the string basses and cellos growl like the real thing.
The Best Night on Bare Mountain
But don't buy this record just for the sound, even as good as the sound of the record may be.
What you want to buy this record for is the best performance of Night On Bald Mountain ever recorded. Fiedler plays it with a kind of pull-out-all-the-stops abandonment that no other conductor has on a modern recording, not to my knowledge anyway. It's supposed to be a wild witches' frenzy, and this is the only performance I know of that allows you to experience the full measure of diabolic revelry in your mind's eye.
This is one of those "sleeper" albums that, as record collectors, you might stumble across from time to time, especially if you're the kind of person who does nothing but play records all day. You will simply be amazed at the performance and the sound on this copy.
Lively, set in a huge hall, with big orchestral sound, and more energy than you will find on 99 out of 100 classical LPs. So present, with an extended top end and transparency that allows you to "see" to the back of the hall.
Huge low brass, the kind you hear on Ansermet's recording from the Victoria Hall. What a sound!
It gets loud and it stays clean doing it. Not many records can make that claim.
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 dough.
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 on his system. 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 the instruments of the orchestra.
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 later 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
- Mussorgsky / Night On Bald Mountain
- Saint-saens / Danse Macabre
- Khachaturian / Sabre Dance from "Gayne" Ballet
- Dukas / The Sorcerer's Apprentice
- Stravinsky / Danse Infernale from "Firebird" Ballet
- Ginastera / Danza Final from "Estancia" Ballet