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Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 2 / Kondrashin / Ashkenazy - Super Hot Stamper

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

Super Hot Stamper

Piano Concerto No. 2 / Kondrashin / Ashkenazy

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus

  • An outstanding pressing of this superb recording with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • It's also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that even our most well-cared-for vintage classical titles have trouble playing at
  • This copy is guaranteed to beat any and every pressing you have of the work or your money back
  • Big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic - HERE is the sound that simply does not exist except in the world of the properly cleaned, properly pressed vintage LP
  • On both of these sides you'll hear rich strings, clear horns, a piano that is full-bodied and natural, with a solid low end (the kind you rarely hear on record but is nonetheless strikingly obvious in the presence of the real instrument)

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) / More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

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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 Decca 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 Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 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 1964
  • 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.

What We're Listening For On Piano Concerto No. 2

  • 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.
  • Powerful bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • 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.

A Big Group of Musicians Needs This Kind of Space

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies -- my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” -- create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings are just plain more involving. When you hear a copy that does all that -- a copy like this one -- it’s an entirely different listening experience.

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

  • Piano Concerto No. 2 In C Minor, Op. 18
  • Moderato
    Adagio Sostenuto

Side Two

  • Piano Concerto No. 2 In C Minor, Op. 18
  • Allegro Scherzando

  • Etudes-Tableaux Op. 39
  • No. 1
    No. 2
    No. 5

Wikipedia on Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2

The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between June 1900 and April 1901. From the summer to the autumn of 1900, he worked on the second and third movements of the concerto, with the first movement causing him difficulties. Both movements of the unfinished concerto were first performed with him as soloist and his cousin Alexander Siloti making his conducting debut on 15 December 1900. The first movement was finished in 1901 and the complete work had an astoundingly successful premiere on 9 November 1901, again with the composer as soloist and Siloti conducting. Gutheil published the work the same year. The piece established Rachmaninoff's fame as a concerto composer and is one of his most enduringly popular pieces.

After the disastrous 1897 premiere of his First Symphony, Rachmaninoff suffered a psychological breakdown that prevented composition for three years. Although depression sapped his energy, he still engaged in performance. Conducting and piano lessons became necessary to ease his financial position. In 1899, he was supposed to perform the Second Piano Concerto in London, which he had not composed yet due to illness, and instead made a successful conducting debut. The success led to an invitation to return next year with his First Piano Concerto; however, he promised to reappear with a newer and better one. Rachmaninoff was later invited to Leo Tolstoy's home in hopes of having his writer's block revoked, but the meeting only worsened his situation. Relatives decided to introduce him to the neurologist Nikolai Dahl, whom he visited daily from January to April 1900, which helped restore his health and confidence in composition. Rachmaninoff dedicated the concerto to Dahl for successfully treating him.

The popularity of the Second Piano Concerto grew rapidly, developing global fame after its subsequent performances. Its international progress started with a performance in Germany, where Siloti played it with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Arthur Nikisch's baton in January 1902. In March, the same duo had a tremendously successful performance in Saint Petersburg; two days preceding this, the Rachmaninoff-Siloti duo performed back in Moscow, with the former conducting and the latter as soloist.[52] May of the same year saw a performance at the Queen's Hall in London, the soloist being Wassily Sapellnikoff with the Philharmonic Society and Frederic Cowen conducting; London would wait until 1908 for Rachmaninoff to perform it there. "One was quickly persuaded of its genuine excellence and originality," The Guardian wrote of the concerto following the performance. England, however, had already heard the concerto twice prior to the London premiere, with performances by Siloti in Birmingham and Manchester. Rachmaninoff—enhanced by success from repossessing the ability to compose again, coupled with no more financial worries—repaid the loan from Siloti within one year of receiving the last installment.

After marrying his first cousin Natalia Satina, the newly-wed Rachmaninoff received an invitation to play his concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Vasily Safonov in December. Although the engagement guaranteed him a hefty fee, he was anxious that accepting it would show ingratitude towards Siloti. However, after seeking his help, Taneyev reassured Rachmaninoff that this did not offend Siloti. That was followed by concerts in both Vienna and Prague the following spring in 1903 under the same engagement. In late 1904, Rachmaninoff won the Glinka Awards, cash prizes established in Belyayev's will, receiving 500 rubles for his concerto.