Author Topic: Your favorite mono recordings  (Read 1754 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2022, 11:42:03 AM »
When was it (they) recorded?  And I'm guessing, from all live performances?

The set is taken from a 1961 cycle he performed in recital.



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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2022, 12:28:33 PM »
Hi DBK,

There are so many wonderful recordings that were released either only in mono or mono AND stereo.

As I think it was Todd (who beat me to it) had mentioned, the Beethoven mono recordings with Kempff are particularly wonderful.  He recorded them three times but not in totality.  The set that I have (and love) is this one: 



Gieseking playing Debussy...to die for.  :)  Will have to double-check what else I have of his...

Several of Cortot's recordings are very special to me; in particular, his recording of Chopin's PC No. 2 with Barbirolli (the one that I have is on Naxos).  His Franck, Saint-Saens, Ravel album (also on Naxos) is wonderful.  I grew so enamored of Cortot that I bought an EMI boxed set of his...trying to remember the name of the series....Icons, I believe.

There are so many great recordings out there.

By the way, one theory that I have re sound quality:  Don't try and listen to them on a very current, super-high detailed system which shows everything.  I find that I enjoy them better on a "less-than-perfect" system.  That, and just be willing and able to let any dated recording ways just go to the wayside and immerse yourself in the performance.  That said, in some cases, I'm pleasantly surprised how good some of the later ones sound on my better system.  I'm curious as to what others think of my comments?

PD

Hi PD, I only have the Kempff stereo. I will check out his mono sonatas. Also, I don’t know much of Cortot recordings and I always thought that I should explore his recordings.

Online Mandryka

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2022, 12:31:01 PM »
Yes what recordings do you particularly like? I will check the yt video shortly.

I’ll tell you one thing which I think is a bit special and which kind of suits his voice very well, the three “songs” by Priaulx Reiner which he recorded, you’ll find it at the end of the big Anniversary box on streaming services. Pears’s strength for me is that he can make the words sound meaningful - he’s good with the poetry. And where the music starts to approach spoken word, as in the Reiner, this aspect really can come to the fore.


There’s lots of good Britten which he recorded of course. The canticles, the serenade, Quint in The Turn of the Screw - I remember he was outstanding in all of those.

And check the early music he recorded with Bream.

His voice changed quite early in his career and became very very distinctive. Some people just can’t tolerate it. I can tolerate it well, because of his way with the words.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2022, 12:48:27 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Irons

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #23 on: September 13, 2022, 06:38:41 AM »
What is often not realised is that during the period when both mono and stereo recordings were released onto the market record companies used two sound engineer teams, one mono the other stereo. I have a Mercury LP which lists the two engineers, but can't find it! Instead I looked up the Decca discography and the first recording made by them with two engineers in tandem was in October 1956, a Joseph Krips recording of Schumann's "Spring" Symphony. Kenneth Wilkinson, Decca's top engineer, recorded mono LXT 5347 and Gordon Parry stereo SXL 2223. Weirdly this double team method came to an end in May 1958 with also a Krips recording, Schubert's 9th. Now stereo took precedence with "Wilkie" engineering stereo SXL 2045 and Peter van Biere LXT 5471 mono.

With that long preamble I'm making the point that mono recordings of the period can and often do sound better then stereo of the same recording. Stereo was seen as a gimmick that would not catch on so resources were channelled to mono.

I picked up a mono copy of the famous Michelangeli recording of Ravel's PC in G. Later, I located a stereo copy. Foolishly I sold my "inferior" mono copy only to find the stereo lacked the dynamics and focus of the mono.

It irks me when mono recordings are treated as poor relations of stereo. They are not inferior just different.       
« Last Edit: September 13, 2022, 06:48:37 AM by Irons »
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Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2022, 06:48:59 AM »
What is often not realised is that during the period when both mono and stereo recordings were released onto the market record companies used two sound engineer teams, one mono the other stereo. I have a Mercury LP which lists the two engineers, but can't find it! Instead I looked up the Decca discography and the first recording made by them with two engineers in tandem was in October 1956, a Joseph Krips recording of Schumann's "Spring" Symphony. Kenneth Wilkinson, Decca's top engineer, recorded mono LXT 5347 and Gordon Parry stereo SXL 2223. Weirdly this double team method came to an end in May 1958 with also a Krips recording, Schubert's 9th. Now stereo took precedence with "Wilkie" engineering stereo SXL 2045 and Peter van Biere mono.

With that long preamble I'm making the point that mono recordings of the period can and often do sound better then stereo of the same recording. Stereo was seen as a gimmick that would not catch on so resources were channelled to mono.

I picked up a mono copy of the famous Michelangeli recording of Ravel's PC in G. Later, I located a stereo copy. Foolishly I sold my "inferior" mono copy only to find the stereo lacked the dynamics and focus of the mono.

It irks me when mono recordings are treated as poor relations of stereo. They are not inferior just different.       
Good points Irons.  :)

Pd

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #25 on: September 13, 2022, 11:23:56 AM »
I won't pretend to know much of anything at all about the pre-stereo era. But there are a few I love:

Artur Schnabel's Beethoven and Schubert, all of it

Walter Giekesking's Debussy. Somehow he plays the music completely differently than anyone else, and in a way that seems closer to the composer's "real intentions" than any other recording I've ever heard. But what do I know?

Oistrakh/Konwitschny/Dresden Brahms and Tchaikovsky violin concertos. Probably my favorite performance of either work.

Furtwängler/NDR SO Brahms 1 (from 1951 or thereabouts). Oddly, this was the recording that got me into Brahms.

I'm sure others are being forgotten about.

Offline LKB

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #26 on: September 13, 2022, 08:54:49 PM »
My only mono recordings consist of two volumes on Testament, both featuring the Hollywood String Quartet:

Beethoven Late String Quartets

Schoenberg/Schubert, with the former's Verklärte Nacht and the latter's String Quintet in C Major.

The Beethoven set is about as solid overall as any other, imho, and the Schubert/ Schoenberg is incomparable.
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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2022, 07:49:51 AM »
Two recordings in particular:

Furtwängler/Philharmonia Orchestra Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Absolutely stunning, for its passionate intensity, harmonic richness and orchestral colour.

Knappertsbusch Wagner's Parsifal (from the Bayreuth Festival 1951). My introduction to Parsifal, a masterful interpretation.
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2022, 08:20:16 AM »
Two recordings in particular:

Furtwängler/Philharmonia Orchestra Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Absolutely stunning, for its passionate intensity, harmonic richness and orchestral colour.


It's been a while, but I remember enjoying the fragment from Berlin.
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Offline Spotted Horses

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2022, 08:44:55 AM »
Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra, Fricsay


Offline springrite

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #30 on: September 14, 2022, 09:10:21 AM »



Yes, this is one of the first to come up in my head!

Also, the Grainger recording of Grieg Piano Concerto.
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Offline MusicTurner

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #31 on: September 14, 2022, 09:37:04 AM »
Yes, this is one of the first to come up in my head!

Also, the Grainger recording of Grieg Piano Concerto.

Yes, there are several Grainger versions, but the Stokowski recording comes to mind, besides Grainger on a piano roll + a modern stereo orchestra, of which there at least two versions.

Offline springrite

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #32 on: September 14, 2022, 10:26:35 AM »
Yes, there are several Grainger versions, but the Stokowski recording comes to mind, besides Grainger on a piano roll + a modern stereo orchestra, of which there at least two versions.
Right. I am of course referring to the Stokowski recording.
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Offline j winter

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #33 on: September 14, 2022, 11:17:28 AM »
I often tend to prefer mono recordings when I'm listening in a sonically compromised environment, like in the car or outside -- in a modern digital recording it's easy to miss the softly played quiet bits, whereas the compression on old recordings can actually help make sure everything is audible (or at least as much as was captured on the original tapes). 

Lately I've been enjoying a lot of Hermann Scherchen's recordings, particularly his Haydn and Beethoven.  I'd say they're both worth a listen, and if nothing else they convincingly dismiss any argument that the HIP movement invented speedy tempos... :)



I also like a lot of older chamber music recordings, most recently the very old-school Beethoven SQ cycle from the Hungarian Qt:





 
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

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Online Mandryka

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #34 on: September 14, 2022, 11:17:54 AM »
Here's a favourite of mine -- Furtwangler in rehearsal in 1948. Brahms 4. It's just amazing what he got them to do. And it's great to actually see him in action, the icy eyes, the relaxed body, like a rag doll. This is possibly the best Brahms 4 ever. Except it's only a rehearsal and we only have five minutes of it. But what five minutes!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leYbb5KZYDg&ab_channel=FrancisZhou

There's a story that Mravinsky once cancelled the concert because the rehearsal was so good . . .
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Offline Holden

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #35 on: September 14, 2022, 06:12:33 PM »
Anything by the Hollywood String Quartet!
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Online Jo498

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #36 on: September 14, 2022, 11:47:55 PM »
As has been already said, there are obviously lots of great mono recordings and many great artist's best were only captured in mono.
So I will only name a few, the first bunch will all have sound quality I categorize as "hifi mono" that IMO should not distract most listeners. The second bunch will have more "historical" sound.

sound usually quite good:

Fricsay: Verdi Requiem (DG studio), already mentioned above, certainly one of my favorites and the sound is better than on another favorite from slightly earlier, Toscanini
Calllas/de Sabata: Tosca, really deserves the legendary status, I doubt anyone will think about sound after the first few minutes.
Markevitch: Haydn: The Creation
Scherchen: Haydn: Symphony #88 (and 45 and 92, if one wants discs one probably has to get the whole bunch anyway but I found the London symphonies comparably dissapointing)
Rosbaud: Haydn 92+104
Furtwängler: Haydn 88, Schumann 4
Gould/Bernstein: Beethoven concerto #2
R. Serkin: Diabelli Variations

not so great sound

Rubinstein/Toscanini Beethoven concerto #3 (+ 1940s recordings of sonatas op.31/3 and 57)
Furtwängler: Schubert 9 live 1940s (I prefer this one very much to the early 1950s studio recording but the later does have better sound) I am leaving out Furtwängler's Beethoven, Brahms etc. because I do not remember the relative (sound) qualities and special recs are hardly needed as they are usually famous anyway.
Heifetz/Feuermann: Brahms Double concerto
Schnabel: Schubert sonatas, esp. 959, Beethoven sonatas, esp. op.27/2
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #37 on: September 15, 2022, 10:22:02 AM »
What you describe is the obsession of a (presumably) elderly man who appears to allow intense nostalgia to severely color his judgment of reproduced sound, which is perfectly fine.  I've heard newer Quads, and they are fine for people who prefer that style of presentation.  I do not.  I realize that the legendary Quad ESL 57 is supposed to border on the magical, but dipole electrostats just don't sound good.  I prefer ribbon tweeters combined with dynamic drivers, but I know some/many/most people do not.  My preference does not mean there is an advantage to ribbon tweeters combined with dynamic drivers.

The ESL57 doesn't sound like any of the newer Quads which while also limited in dynamics like the ESL57 just don't sound particularly interesting, which puts them at a major losing position all around; there is just no point in putting up with Quad limitations if they don't do something right. No nostalgia for me, as I'm in my late 30s. They just wound up being the speakers I ended up with after owning a little over a half dozen speakers plus 15 years of outside auditions, at the time the ESL57 were the only ones that had the most realistic presentation for unamplified instruments, particularly in the midrange. That was old me.

Now I don't think things like driver topology or whatever really matter, ie being able to see the fancy high priced Serbian ribbons or Scandanavian dynamic drivers will probably determine what you think of the sound quality far more than it matters. The blind testing shows that the best sounding speakers adhere to certain measurement parameters which might be able to be achieved with any number of topologies given good design. I'd never trust anything DIY as these kind of designs require state of the art measuring tools starting at six figures to do properly.

New me - after hearing them, Kii Three can very easily keep up with the ESL57 and much more.

Quote
That is different from mono offering an advantage over stereo.  Depending on playback gear - or ripping options in the digital realm - one has the option to listen to any recording as a mono recording, whereas synthesizing stereo sound from a mono source always sounds atrocious.  There are no advantages to mono sound

Agree. If anyone is mentioning a mono mix sounding superior then the stereo mix was not done properly or the person just like the way the mono sounds.

I'm the opposite.  I prefer to listen to older recordings, all the way back to Josef Hofmann's 1903 recordings or Artur Nikisch's 1913 Beethoven Fifth, on the best system I have, to eke out every last bit of instrumental sound. That written, I care less now about sound than I did a decade ago and will happily listen to wireless earbuds if that is what I have available.

+1 to everything you've written, particular the bold since my post was primarily on speakers.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2022, 10:29:10 AM by hvbias »
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Offline Todd

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #38 on: September 15, 2022, 11:40:33 AM »
at the time the ESL57 were the only ones that had the most realistic presentation for unamplified instruments, particularly in the midrange.

I find that literally impossible to believe.  All brands of electrostats are less capable of reproducing piano than either dynamic drivers or some planars.  I doubt they would be able to reproduce cello in a satisfactory way, but maybe.


I'd never trust anything DIY as these kind of designs require state of the art measuring tools starting at six figures to do properly.

How do you know?


The blind testing shows that the best sounding speakers adhere to certain measurement parameters which might be able to be achieved with any number of topologies given good design.

What blind testing?
« Last Edit: September 15, 2022, 11:51:20 AM by Todd »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Your favorite mono recordings
« Reply #39 on: September 15, 2022, 11:41:11 AM »
The ESL57 doesn't sound like any of the newer Quads which while also limited in dynamics like the ESL57 just don't sound particularly interesting, which puts them at a major losing position all around; there is just no point in putting up with Quad limitations if they don't do something right. No nostalgia for me, as I'm in my late 30s. They just wound up being the speakers I ended up with after owning a little over a half dozen speakers plus 15 years of outside auditions, at the time the ESL57 were the only ones that had the most realistic presentation for unamplified instruments, particularly in the midrange. That was old me.

Now I don't think things like driver topology or whatever really matter, ie being able to see the fancy high priced Serbian ribbons or Scandanavian dynamic drivers will probably determine what you think of the sound quality far more than it matters. The blind testing shows that the best sounding speakers adhere to certain measurement parameters which might be able to be achieved with any number of topologies given good design. I'd never trust anything DIY as these kind of designs require state of the art measuring tools starting at six figures to do properly.

New me - after hearing them, Kii Three can very easily keep up with the ESL57 and much more.

Agree. If anyone is mentioning a mono mix sounding superior then the stereo mix was not done properly or the person just like the way the mono sounds.

+1 to everything you've written, particular the bold since my post was primarily on speakers.

This is the way to give ESL 57s the power to shift more air.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/325286877772?mkcid=1&mkrid=710-53481-19255-0&siteid=0&customid=link&campid=5338728743&toolid=20001&mkevt=1
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