I’m keen to tap into the forum knowledge in regards to starting a small collection of classical music on vinyl. I do listen to some classical, but it’s generally only about 10% of my listening time and usually during work (from home) and streamed from Tidal.
I’d really like to start adding some classical vinyl, but the challenge is I just bought what seemed like a reasonable pressing of Holsts The Planets and it’s really not very good.
Nothing beats personal recommendations so please recommend me a classical album you feel meets the following criteria:
Well recorded, mastered and pressed
Shows off the benefit of a good Hifi (soundscape, focus, depth, separation etc etc)
If it’s new classical LPs you want, at a reasonable price then your first port of call should probably be the Speakers Corner and Testament catalogues. Speakers Corner specialises in golden age Decca LPs (along with some Philips, DG and Mercury LPs) and for the most part they are very good. Testament concentrates on golden age EMI and Columbia. For a bit more money you have Analogue Productions reissues of some of the best golden age RCA Living Stereos. If there’s one though that really is worth spending a fair bit of money on though it’s the Royal Ballet box set - especially the 45rpm version.
A surprising number of new classical releases are appearing on vinyl too. Check latest reviews and see what sites such as PrestoMusic etc offer. Stream it on Tidal to check you actually like it first then purchase it in the format you desire.
Hello Richard, took your advice and bought the Royal Ballet in its 33 RPM, 180 gm, double gatefold album. It comes with a 20 or so page narative and photos all very well presented. Now wishing I had the box set 45 RPM issue. However it is that time of the year. Who knows?
For a recording dating from 1957 it has very natural string tone. no tape hiss and suitably dynamic on a Tangerine Audio LP12 and Lyra cartridge. It just shows the skill Decca had over 60 years ago. Some Decca’a of this era could have slightly wiry string tone but not this set. I wonder if anyone has the origional pressings and how might sound.
Truly a golden era for classical music recordings.
I thought I had a handle on Decca releases of this era, but its a new one to me. If you have any more gems like this please let the forum know.
I just posted on another thread re. One of my favourite classical recordings; The Reiner Sound. Either the Classic Records or the Chesky reissue are worth getting - the chesky has a gorgeously luminous quality but just lacks the power and dynamics of the classic.
Why do you wish to buy new?
There are millions of LPs waiting to be bought on various sites, most of them hardly played at all, some of them unplayed, with sleeves in pristine condition. I would certainly recommend a visit to Discogs (the site’s address is very easy to find). The Decca pressings of the 60s and 70s were first class, unlikely to be bettered by modern pressings, I would have thought - but I may be wrong.
Decca pressings were generally good to excellent, but had a few wobbles here and there. Ironically the best pressings were some of the last U.K. ones and the first Dutch ones around ‘79-80. Main issue that has cropped up with Deccas over the years was reaction with the polylined inner sleeves. A few runs through an RCM can undo most of the damage but noise can persist.
Of course, low noise and no wear are just two advantages of modern (new) pressings.
I’m currently listening to a classical LP that ticks all the boxes here; Alexander Gibson conducting the Royal Opera House Orchestra playing Gounod’s Faust ballet music and Bizet’s Carmen Suite. The recording was one made by Decca for RCA and released under their Living Stereo banner. It’s available in a number of RCA and Decca issues and reissues, few if any finer than this Classic Records reissue from the ‘90s.