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Best Symphonic Recordings

ahofer

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#1
I located a thread on best piano recordings (https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/best-piano-recordings.11036/page-), but not one on symphonic (I’m of the opinion that good small ensemble recordings are almost too numerous).

In another thread, someone introduced me to the Osmo Vanska recordings of Beethoven, which are superb - high dynamic range, detailed, smooth-sounding.

I just finished listening to this one -

https://bis.se/conductors/vanska-osmo/beethoven-symphonies-1-and-6
 
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q3cpma

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#2
I'd be interested into a written resource about that. The fastidious chore that is locating the best versions of every classical work is what actually prevents me from spending my time searching for more.
And to avoid any subjectivity, I'm not talking about the best performance (though it obviously matters) but the best recording; good dynamic range (not too high, not too low), low background noise and proper mixing.
 

mkt

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#4
I'd be interested into a written resource about that. The fastidious chore that is locating the best versions of every classical work is what actually prevents me from spending my time searching for more.
And to avoid any subjectivity, I'm not talking about the best performance (though it obviously matters) but the best recording; good dynamic range (not too high, not too low), low background noise and proper mixing.
I don't know of ratings that completely avoid subjectivity. There might be listings of dynamic range. People like a number.

These are reasonable subjective ratings of performance and recording
https://www.classicstoday.com/recent-10-10-reviews/

Presto has a pretty handy feature where if you pick a label (or artist or piece), you can select by award winners, which is something https://www.prestomusic.com/classic...winner=true&size=30&view=large&sort=relevance

Labels with extremely high technical excellence (e.g., 2L) may have limited but very enjoyable selections. Reference Recordings is an example of a label that I think has mainstream selections and very good recordings.
 
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ahofer

ahofer

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Thread Starter #5
Labels with extremely high technical excellence (e.g., 2L) may have limited but very enjoyable selections. Reference Recordings is an example of a label that I think has mainstream selections and very good recordings.
BIS, Chandos, Sony Classical all have high hit rates for me. The latter has top artists.

DG tends to sign the most coveted artists, along with Sony Classical and Decca. Chamber music is usually fine on all these labels, but orchestra recording on DG hasn’t been great since the 1960s and was just awful in the 1980s.
 

Daverz

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#7
You can buy by label, just be aware that -- particularly in the standard repertoire -- newer recordings are competing artistically and even sonically against about 65 years of stereo recordings. Even the best labels release some clunkers soundwise. A lot of how a recording sounds depends on the venue, mic placement, and how the conductor balances the orchestra, rather than purely technical matters.
 

Daverz

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#9
Ain't that wonderful? :)
Yes, and you'll have to pry my Munch, Walter, Szell, Reiner, Martinon, and Bernstein boxes out of my cold dead hands (death probably caused by being crushed by an avalanche of CDs during an earthquake.)
 

Robin L

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#10
I located a thread on best piano recordings (https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/best-piano-recordings.11036/page-), but not one on symphonic (I’m of the opinion that good small ensemble recordings are almost too numerous).

In another thread, someone introduced me to the Osmo Vanska recordings of Beethoven, which are superb - high dynamic range, detailed, smooth-sounding.

I just finished listening to this one -

https://bis.se/conductors/vanska-osmo/beethoven-symphonies-1-and-6
"Much of a Muchness", that's what we got here. I've got a couple of the Osmo Vanska Beethoven Bis issues, along with the much older Bis recording of Sibelius Symphonies 6, 7 & Tapiola [really grand]. I'm one of those chasing everything in Standard repertoire, have been for something like 50 years. Now that I've got a good sounding computer based system, I'm streaming Amazon music and YouTube. There's two other Beethoven Symphony Cycles, of very high technical quality, that I've been listening to recently via Apple Lossless files of the CDs ripped to a tiny 512gb flash drive.

John Eliot Gardiner, leading the Orchestre Révolutionnaire Et Romantique on Archiv is the most fully realized set of Beethoven Symphonies on original Instruments, at original tempi and pitch. There's no bobbles, barnyard noises or caterwauling going on, this is very edgy and coherent playing.


Riccardo Chailly leads the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra using the more or less standard Peters edition, working with a traditional orchestra with a long history with the repertoire. He's also performing using Beethoven's [fast] metronome markings, very successfully. Sound quality is excellent, there's a touch of limiting on the peaks compared to the Vanska sound capture but tone quality, perspective and hall sound are TOTL:

 

win

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#11
I wish I had the house to appreciate high dynamic range :(
 

Dialectic

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#16
orchestra recording on DG hasn’t been great since the 1960s and was just awful in the 1980s.
I tend to think that early '60s DG orchestra recordings were mostly excellent and that quality declined as they attempted to use more microphones. Karajan's '63 Beethoven cycle is justifiably legendary, and the quality of those recordings is generally superb.

In my view, the quality of DG's orchestral recordings reached its nadir sometime in the '70s and did return to being technically "good" until the mid-'90s. Nonetheless, even in recent years and on recordings that sound pretty decent, they use too many microphones and tend to mess around to increase the perceived size of the soundstage, etc. I wish they'd just use a central pair of microphones using a reasonable stereo miking method and spot microphones that are correctly integrated into the mix with panning and delay.

I think very highly of BIS recordings. Whatever anyone else says, Osmo Vanska is a top conductor just as much as Riccardo Chailly or Gustavo Dudamel (and more so than the overrated and creepy Christian Thielemann), and many of the recordings that Vanska has done with the Minnesota Orchestra are first-rate.
 
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