The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy is guaranteed to sound better than any vintage pressing of violin pieces you've heard, and it plays as quietly as any copy ever will (and far better than most)
- We are big fans of Nathan Milstein here at Better Records and it's records like this that justify our enthusiasm
- Works for violin and piano by Chopin, Vivaldi, Smetana, Brahms, Stravinsky and others - and each is played with the feeling and skill as would be expected from one of the greatest performers of his generation
- The appeal for the casual listener may not warrant the expense, but those who seek out these kinds of vintage '50s pressings should find much to like here
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A wonderful batch of short violin pieces with piano accompaniment: This vintage Capitol FDS Green and Gold 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 artists, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Milstein and Pommers, 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 Milstein Miniatures 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 1956
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with the piano having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
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.
If you have full-range speakers, some of the qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano are WEIGHT and WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead, the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we've (hopefully) all heard countless times in concert.
In other words like a real piano, not a recorded one. This is what we look for in a good piano recording. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn out stampers and bad vinyl and five gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies. But a few copies survive all such hazards. They manage to reproduce the full spectrum of the piano's wide range (and of course the wonderful performance of the pianist) on vintage vinyl, showing us the kind of sound we simply cannot find any other way.
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.
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 Milstein Miniatures
- 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 for the violin and piano, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instrument.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The instruments aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put it.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
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 that is a key part of the appeal 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.
From My Homeland (No. 2) (Smetana)
Mazurka In D Major, Op. 19, No. 2 (Wieniawski)
Siciliano - Composed By (Vivaldi)
It Rains In The Village (Kodaly)
Nocturne In C-Sharp Minor, Op. Post. (Chopin)
Perpetuum Mobile (F. Ries)
Hungarian Dance No. 2 In D Minor (Brahms)
Meditation From Thais (Massenet)
Russian Maiden's Song (Stravinsky)
Flight Of The Bumblebee (Rimsky-Korsakov)