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  1. #1
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    Dec 2004

    fave classical reference recordings

    Wondering if anyone has favorite classical (symphonic, chamber music, solo) recordings for testing equipment. Any ideas appreciated! Thanks

  2. #2
    it's about the music
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    i like the brandemburg concertos by Bach, specially the first one. Great for dynamics, detail and imaging. I have several copies ranging from dreadful to breathtaking, and the excellent one (deutsche gramaphon i believe) ALWAYS comes with me to auditions.
    OH! and Rhapsody in Blue, by Gerswhin.
    I remember the days when I thought 128kbps sounded great and had never spent more than 10 bucks on cables...

  3. #3
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Anywhere but here...
    Quote Originally Posted by funnyhat
    Wondering if anyone has favorite classical (symphonic, chamber music, solo) recordings for testing equipment. Any ideas appreciated! Thanks
    Great question! I don't have any to add but look forward to reading more answers.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Central Ohio
    Stravinsky "The Rite Of Spring"

    Tchaikovsky "Concerto for Piano and Orchestra no. 1"
    "Romeo und Julia"

    Orff "Carmina Burana"

    Vivaldi "Four Seasons"

    Mussorgsky "Pictures at an Exhibition"
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  5. #5
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    below the noise floor
    I have a fondness for von Karajan as a conductor, and large, multi-layered productions, such as Holst's Planets (especially since it has everything -- strings, horns, woodwinds, percussion, even choir) and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (mostly because I just plain enjoy listening to this one). Berliner Philharmoniker, but I also like his earlier stuff when he was conducting the Concertgebouw Amsterdam (I think -- can't verify right now).

    I also like the occasional sparse music -- Schubert's piano trio in E flat is a favourite -- the version on Arts is the one with which I am most familiar.
    Eschew fascism.
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    you guys are crackheads.
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  6. #6
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    Dec 2004
    Sounds good so far, any specific recordings of these works?, I find emi classics are often very nice, clear but still warm due to being remasters of old analog recordings. Rostropovich playing dutilleux concerto and Rostropovich, Oistrakh, and Richter on Beethoven triple are some of my favorites.

  7. #7
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    Jun 2004
    burnaby, BC
    If you like choral music, two of my favorites which are very well recorded are:

    Arvo Part - Te Deum (There's only one version of this, I believe, and its incredible)
    Faure- Requiem (conducted by Herrewig on the Harmonia Mundi label)
    Last edited by shaemus; 02-09-2006 at 07:21 AM.

  8. #8
    Dubgazer -Jar-'s Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    Cleveland, Ohio
    What I do is use something I *know* - meaning, I know both the work, the recording and the interpretation.

    I usually take a few of my oldest, most familiar cds. They might not be the *best* as far as sound quality goes, but I'm much more able to judge the equipment because I know what the recording sounds like, at least on my equipment. One time I took a cd to audition some speakers, and I listened to it on some tube equipment, and I swear it sounded like a different recording..

    Here's a few that I would take if I was going to test some equipment this weekend:

    Mahler, Symphony # 2, Slatkin, St. Louis Symphony on Telarc
    Mahler, Symphony # 5, Sinopoli, Philharmonia Orchestra on DG
    Walton, Symphony # 1 + Marches, Previn, Royal Philharmonic on Telarc
    Bruckner, Symphony # 8, Matacic, NHK Orchestra on Denon.
    Shostokovich, Symphony # 5, Rostropovich, National Symphony on Teldec

    Even though these are all symphonies, they would provide enough contrasts to be able to judge the equipment, at least to my ears.

    If being afraid is a crime we'll hang side-by-side,
    at the swingin' party down the line..

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  9. #9
    Aging Smartass
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Moore, SC
    I am a huge fan of Telarc, and have been since their first LP back in the late 70's. While all Telarc CD's may not be the definitive performances of a given piece, all are at least very good, and none are downright lousy. As a suggestion for a few genuine standouts, both sonically, and in terms of musical interpretation, here are a few:

    Orff, "Carmina Burana," Donald Runnicles conducting. Telarc #80575
    Mahler, Symphony #1, "Titan," Yoel Levi conducting. Telarc #80545
    Mahler, Symphony #3, Benjamin Zander conducting. Telarc #80599
    Berlioz, "Requiem," Robert Spano conducting. Telarc #80627

    All of these are also available in SACD format, but the proprietary circuitry used by Telarc, which they claim offers much of the SACD resolution on normal CD playback surely seems to work, as these all sound wonderful, and are all brilliantly done interpreations.

    On Phillips, two standout recordings by Valery Gergiev and the Kirov orchestra all but blew me away:

    Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," and Berlioz' "Symphonie Fantastique." Both are the best sounding (watch out on "Rite," or you'll blow up your woofers!) and most vividly interpeted versions of each piece that I've ever heard.

    Hope this was helpful.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2004

    I likes this 'un...

    The Mercury Living Presence hybrid SACD of the Bach Cello Suites, as performed by Janos Starker. The SACD layer is actually 3-channel because the original recording was done on 3 tracks with 3 mics. It's scary real. You can clearly hear him breathing through the whole recording, and it seems like the bow makes about 8,000 different sounds on the strings. Quite something. There is also a 2-channel SACD mix as well as a 2 channel CD layer (hence the "hybrid").
    Now, obviously, it's not a huge symphonic cacophony that will strain the full range of your speakers, but for up-close-and-personal I've never heard a recording that beats it.
    I want to say that I read that Stereophile named it the best solo classical recording of all time, but I'm probably making that up like I do most things. It's happier in my world that way.
    Oh, and it has 2 loverly bonus sonatas.

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