Thursday, March 7, 2013

Columbia SAX 2490


SAX 2490

Szell Conducts Russian Music

George Szell, conductor
The Cleveland Orchestra

Pressing:  ES1

Condition:  NM

Stampers:
BC1002 A1
BC1002 B1

Performance:  10/10

Sound:  8/10

Comments:

I love Russian orchestral music.  Have I said this before?  Maybe, but I'm saying it again. This is probably heavily influenced by the fact that we played a lot of Russian music in orchestra, both in high school and in college.  Interestingly, we played Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol in both high school and college, and not surprisingly it is one of my favorite orchestral works.  The Polovtsian Dances we did in college as well, as part of an all Russian concert in which we also performed the Capriccio Espagnol and Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia.  We were the non-music major orchestra at Northwestern University, but did we get a full house that night at Pick-Staiger and a standing ovation.  Kudos to then-conductor Stephen Alltop, who has now been replaced by Robert Hasty.  In any case, George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra give an outstanding performance on this recording of both of the Capriccio Espagnol and the Polovtsian Dances.  Sound quality is excellent.  I've never been a big fan of Mussorgsky's Prelude from Khovantschina, but it is here to perhaps provide some calm relief from the otherwise high-energy repertoire.  I would've preferred Night on Bald Mountain.  Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italien rounds out the set.  

Again, I want to point out that the stampers here are the U.S. stampers, BC1002 A-1, B-1, which I suspect denote a first pressing.  This album was released as Epic Stereorama BC1002.  Unlike the previous Mendelssohn album I just wrote about, I don't have the U.S. pressing of this record and cannot compare, but if it follows in the same vein as the Mendelssohn, I wouldn't be surprised if the U.S. and U.K. pressings sound pretty identical.  The U.S. one will be far less than the U.K. pressing for sure.  This is available on CD from Sony Masterworks, most recently remastered in 2005 I believe with Szell's recording of Pictures at an Exhibition.  Now that is one dynamite Russian music CD at budget price!!     

22 comments:

  1. Interesting information on the Epic pressings. Some of the Szell SAX releases go for quite a bit of money. I expect they did not sell as well when first released since the orchestra was not European, making them quite rare.

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  2. Thank you for your comment! That is an interesting observation that perhaps the Szell recordings were not big sellers in Europe. I think they were much better sellers in the U.S., though now when you follow the LP market, the Columbia SAX pressings of the Szell records go, as you say, for quite a bit of money. I saw a copy of SAX 2510 sell for more than $1000 on Ebay recently. Crazy prices, and to my understanding most of them go to Asia.

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    1. Well I have an opportunity to buy this LP, but I think I am going to pass. If you've got a quick moment please give your quick opinion on whether any of the following are gems:
      SAX 2519 Schubert: Death and the Maiden plus Haydn Lark- Kroll Quartet $125 EX
      SAX 2507 Tchaikovsky & Prokofiev Quartets- Kroll Quartet $90 EX
      SAX 2511 Carl Loewe Ballads- Hermann Prey $30 EX
      SAX 2397 Schubert C Major Symphony "The Great"- Klemperer $100 EX
      SAX 2327 Borodin "Prince Igor"/Moussorgsky- Von Matacic $40 VG++ own SXLP30070
      ASD 253 Silvestri Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4 $55 EX
      ASD 301 Grieg/Liszt: Piano Concertos- Gyorgy Cziffra- Vandernoot $12 VG+
      ASD 449 metana/Weinberger/Dvorak: Music from Bohemia- Kempe $65 VG+
      ASD 287 Beethoven: "The Ruins of Athens"- Beecham $22 VG+ Have Klemperer
      ASD 421 Strauss: Ein Heldenleben- Beecham $22 EX
      ASD 496 Contemporary Ballets from France- Georges Pretre $55 NM-
      SXL 2134 Music of Berlioz: P.C.O/Martinon $22 EX

      I figure the quartet pieces are rare and maybe not great. The music from Bohemia, Contemporary Ballets from France, Music of Berlioz, Haydn Lark, Schubert Great, and Carl Loewe Ballads speak to me. The Borodin Prince Igor would be nice to compare with the SXLP.

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    2. Wow, that's quite a list. It looks like you've found a good source of LPs. Do you know the labels for each issue? Are these all first labels or a mix? Matters only because of pricing. So here are my thoughts:

      SAX 2490 -- depending on price, I'd get it. How much? Szell's performances of this Russian literature are some of the best in the analog era.

      SAX 2519 -- wish I could comment, but I don't have this one. However, I would agree with you. I don't think that the chamber recordings on the SAX label were that great sounding, just rare. For example, I have the boxed set of the Juilliard String Quartet doing Mozart's Haydn Quartets. A rare set, but the AB comparison between these and the US Epic reissues (which I bought for $4 a piece at a used record shop) shows no really significant difference in sound. They sound nice but not exemplary.

      SAX 2507 -- same as for 2519. Kroll Quartet recordings are rare but I can't testify to the sound quality. I doubt you'd get your bass kick.

      SAX 2511 -- I'm sadly not into vocal recordings, so I don't have any of Hermann Prey's SAX records.

      SAX 2397 -- is this a blue/silver? I have this one and paid more. It sounds pretty decent, though I'm not sure it's worth paying $100. My honest opinion.

      SAX 2327 -- I have and really like this one. I haven't reviewed it yet, but it's one of my more favorite SAX recordings. It's rare, has a cool cover, and sounds great, too. For $40, I'd pick it up. That one usually sells for more than $200 on Ebay in EX to NM condition.

      ASD 253 -- one of my favorite Tchaikovsky's 4ths. I don't have the record (I only have SIlvestri doing the 5th on ASD white/gold), but the CD version is very nice. $55 is not a bad price, as long as you are getting the white/gold.

      ASD 301 -- Not a great record in terms of sound. I once owned this years ago and then sold it. For $12, I'd probably pick it up as long as VG+ means no scratches.

      ASD 449 -- A very nice record. I never owned the original, but my friend did before he sold it on Ebay. That record usually goes for $60-160, depending on condition. Is it white/gold? Also, I'd make sure that VG+ was pretty darn good before paying $65. You can buy the Testament LP reissue brand new for $30.

      ASD 287 -- Don't have this one. $22 is not a bad price at all. Again, condition is important.

      ASD 421 -- Don't have this one. I'd be a little careful with the Beecham recordings on ASD. For some reason, I've been disappointed with his ASD LPs. The sound has not sounded as good as the digital. Dynamic range was very limited and had distortion at the high end, at least with the albums I owned. I would wager that perhaps later pressings might have improved on this.

      ASD 496 -- A nice record. Don't have it, but my friend did. Nice music. $55 is a reasonable price for NM.

      SXL 2134 -- if this is a wide-band Decca, then $22 is a steal. Get it while you can. I love Martinon's recordings on Decca and bought the 9 CD limited edition Decca boxed set, which is itself a collector's item. I don't own this record, but I've always seen it sell for more than $100.

      So, I think my opinions are pretty similar to your own! Good luck! Are you buying from the US or UK?

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    3. Wow that was fast! SAX 2490 is too much money, I've crossed it from the list. These are all original pressings. US, so shipping is low. SAX 2327 Borodin "Prince Igor"/Moussorgsky- Von Matacic; may go for this one. Listening to SXLP 30070 as I write and not astounded, so on your so say I will acquire. I'll try the Kroll on Epic first before messing with price blue and silver. SAX 2397 does exist as a budget postage stamp Columbia, so I might pass on it. I'll be entering into aggressive negotiation today as I don't want to pay these prices.

      Invaluable advice. Its one thing to go fishing with the reissue pressings, but quite another at these prices. I will have to start selling LPs soon, and then maybe I can countenance fishing at these prices.

      I think I will have an opportunity at a handful more of titles and will post back with them in the next couple days.

      Not much in the way of purchases lately. Snagged Bizet: CARMEN Suite L'Arlesienne Ernest Ansermet Made in England CS 6062 NM pressing for $14. Menuhin Water Music Semi-circle for $5. Golden Import of Brazilian Impressions for $5. Duo in G Major K423, Sinfonia concertante K 364, David & Igor Oistrakh, Kyril Kondrashin, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, London CS 6377, VGplus $10, and a number of nonesuch and turnabout vox titles for cheap (I collect Nonesuch). CS6377 is on the borderline of blueback sound so quite interested to see if its any good.

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    4. Those are some nice finds!! I've owned the Carmen and have the Water Music and Oistrakh albums. CS 6377 is a nice sounding record. The Decca is pretty valuable if I recall. I used to own the Brazilian Impressions but sold it on Ebay a couple of months ago. How do you find the Nonesuch recordings? I don't have any of them, but some of them have great performances.

      Good luck with the purchases. I hope you find SAX 2327 to your liking. I can't say if the original will be leaps and bounds above the reissue, but you can decide. Like I said, at that price, I would snatch it up quickly. If you don't like it, you can always sell it on Ebay for 300% or more profit.

      If you can find the Kroll on Epic, you'll be set, in my opinion. I am quite sure that Columbia used the Epic stampers, so quality is most likely almost identical.

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    5. I like the original early glossy pressings with type set lettering. They truly have virgin vinyl and are amazingly quiet. These typeset pressings were done by American Decca. I've got quite a few titles better than the Mozart two and three pianos concerto that is on TAS list. I've not listened in a long enough time to comment more now. I will be checking them out when my new acquisitions arrive. Just got a later album, called A Nonesuch Christmas. Supposed to be great music. I'll report on these in a week or so. Can't post any more today, but look for update in the morning.

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    6. OK. These were all from one seller on ebay and those were my estimated prices. They all sold for more than my estimates. I would say that selling LPs in mass of similar type is a good selling strategy as it attracts more buyers. I've already given up on the upcoming items. I guess I'm back to sluming my LPs one at at a time.

      I recently noticed the EMI Regal label. It looks like a precursor to their concert classic series. Have you had any experience with these Regal pressings? I just recently lost out on Campoli Beethoven Violin Concerto. The same title is also available on an early concert classics.

      I need to digest what I've bought recently. I've noticed a few dealers on the net that I might be able to get a handful of LPs from that are cheaper reissues. I've pretty much cleaned out anyone on ebay that has enough to make shipping worthwhile.

      The Brazilian Impressions LP is something that I think might fair pretty well on a golden import since the presentation is more about the highs and less about dynamics and bass. I like the mercury CD of this quite a bit. I guess the fact you sold your copy recently indicates that the original pressings are not fantastic.

      I've had better luck getting good deals on london bluebacks. Do you hear much of a difference between London and Decca? What about early STS and SDD pressings? What about pancake pressings? I've got some Richmond Opera boxes of Cosi Fan Tutte and Magic Flute which are nice (the Richmond's are late pressings with the rice paper type London inner sleeve. I need to keep an eye on the OSA opera boxes as some of the early Decca opera releases fetch a pretty penny.

      A final label of interest is early DGG pressings. I've come across a few that do sound interesting. Hard to get the early pressings in the US.

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    7. I'm sorry to hear that you weren't able to get those albums. You had me wondering where you were able to get those albums for those types of prices. It seems like either an excellent deal or too good to be true. I've witnessed that so many times on Ebay. You see what looks like a great deal, even with less than 1 day to go for the auction. You think to yourself, I can outbid that high bidder. Then in the LAST SECOND, the album goes from $9.99 to $183 or more. That is how it goes. I've won and lost just as many auctions in the same vein. I'd be interested to hear how much those albums actually sold for. Did the Von Matacic sell for more than $200?

      I'm not familiar with the EMI Regal label. Was that Campoli Beethoven a stereo issue? I don't think I've seen or heard that one.

      There are a good number of decent dealers on the internet, especially in the UK. I've bought several records from them, but they know what they are selling and price accordingly. Many times I've kicked myself in the ass at how much I paid a dealer and then saw the same record go for less than half on Ebay. You just have to know the market and what you can get for how much. Classicalvinyl.com and classicalvinylrecords.com are both great sites, but they are expensive. Reissues are, however, somewhat cheaper, especially on the second site. Spiral classics is another good site. US sites hardly have any of these imports, so you have to go to the UK for good selection.

      The Brazilian Impressions LP was very nice. I also have it on CD, so it was not compelling for me to keep. I needed the cash, so I sold 300 records for more than $10,000. Not all in one batch of course, but one by one. It took me about 3 months, but it was worth it. I pared my collection down to the essentials and was able to pay back the money I spent on collecting the SAX, ASD, and Deccas.

      The question between London and Decca has long been debated, and I would say that there is NO difference. There was an article written on this by Arthur Salvatore on his website. He has written proof that the stampers were the exact same. However, the Deccas always seem to be more coveted than the Bluebacks. They have cooler covers. They almost always sell for much more on Ebay, especially if they are ED1. STS were cheap reissues. I haven't done a side by side. They sound decent, but many people find them to be not as good seounding. SDD pressings I believe are better reissues. The reissues to get are the Ace of Diamonds. Those used the same mothers, I believe. Basically the same as the Deccas but in a budget line. Get those if you can.

      And YES! The DGG red tulip label is quite collectable. Some of those sell for a bit of money. Sonically, they weren't quite up there with Decca, EMI, RCA, or MErcury at the time, but they have some nice collectable records. Pierre Fournier. Wolfgang Schneiderhan. Johanna Martzy in mono. Rafael Kubelik. Ferenc Fricsay. Wilhelm Kempff. They are hard to get in the US, but they do show up on Ebay in the US often. You just have to keep checking.

      Boy, 9000 records and still going strong, eh? I'm impressed!

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    8. Truth be told I would like to have paid half those prices. The original price was my best guess of what the LP would sell for based on recent selling history. The grading seemed very conservative, so the conditions listed often were rounded up. Here is the list again with final price in parentheses.
      SAX 2519 Schubert: Death and the Maiden- Kroll Quartet $125 (202) EX
      SAX 2507 Tchaikovsky & Prokofiev Quartets- Kroll Quartet $90 (103) EX
      SAX 2511 Carl Loewe Ballads- Hermann Prey $30 (56) EX
      SAX 2397 Schubert C Major Symphony "The Great"- Klemperer $100 (91) EX
      SAX 2327 Borodin "Prince Igor"/Moussorgsky- Von Matacic $40 (90) VG++
      ASD 253 Silvestri Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4 $55 (79) EX
      ASD 301 Grieg/Liszt: Piano Concertos- Gyorgy Cziffra- Vandernoot $12 (13) VG+
      ASD 449 Smetana/Weinberger/Dvorak: Music from Bohemia- Kempe $65 (90) VG+
      ASD 287 Beethoven: "The Ruins of Athens"- Beecham $22 (49) VG+
      ASD 421 Strauss: Ein Heldenleben- Beecham $22 (38) EX
      ASD 496 Contemporary Ballets from France- Georges Pretre $55 (53) NM-
      SXL 2134 Music of Berlioz: P.C.O/Martinon $22 (81) EX

      My price on the Berlioz was a london blue back price in my defense. The Von Matacic sold at a very high price for VG+ I think. .... The three LPs I listened too yesterday were kind of unremarkable, so I suspected my ears might be plugging up due to allergies (an insidious problem as the very first system I have is the ears and its hard to notice except when listening to audio). I've been mainlining Claritin-D and with a few pops of the old ears today sonic life was restored. I just played Night on a Bare Mountain from Von Matacic (concert classic sxlp 30070) and it was outstanding. Very dynamic with coherent orchestral slam! I'd put it up against the beloved Blue and Silver on the audio drag strip. I am astounded (now that the ears are unplugged). That album is off the chain.

      Regal is an early EMI reissue label. A handful of titles. I assume it predates the concert classics as many of the titles are repeated early on in the Concert Classics. The stereo Campoli Beethoven is a case in point. The SXLP 20000 series sound tube to me and I presume Regal would have similar sound to this and the gold and cream pressings, but maybe they were like Columbia SAX pressings!

      Thanks for the dealers. I am having a long, long listening session today. I need to listen to all of these LPs I've acquired before buying more.

      I think your religion on the SDD pressings is flawed. No difference here. Well there is a difference. They didn't press these out for London, then one for Decca. They will always sound a little different. There is no telling which will be better, but I would favor Decca because British generally took better care of their LPs (the US was the fast living, changer society) and I would bet the workers would tend to send their best to England. I think pancake pressings (predominant on London and opera) are evidence of some bias. Of course, an LP that is a "hotter" pressing is worth quite a bit more money.

      Let's see. Three months to sell 300 records. 6000 would take five years. Thrilling. I believe your collecting history is superior to mine as far as high dollar items.

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    9. I've got a reviews of quite a few EMI's and some SAX that I did in a series of private emails to some local audiophiles. They are written to a higher level then what I've shot out so far on your magnificent blog. I think you would like to see them, but not sure how to best post them in this format. These are essentially my forming impressions of EMI/Columbia and I would basically quote them with some additional updated commentary. Here's part of the first email:
      "...the premature report on EMIs is that I am ga ga over the middle and earlier ones. Getting the treble fix above helped. The instruments on these recordings sound incredibly real and uncoloured compared to the Londons, RCAs, and various reissues. I had previously was very impressed with Emporer Concerto EMI and now I've listened to about four more of these and I am astonished. ...... "

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    10. What say you on these (end today). I am quite excited about a number of them. Again, predicted prices:
      SAX 2380 Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto no. 1 etc- Arrau $12 VG++
      SAX 2392 Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 Finlandia- Karajan $30 NM- I have classic Monteux
      ASD 460 Humperdinck- Hansel & Gretel, etc- Kempe $100 VG+
      ASD 254 Beethoven: Symphony No.7- Cantelli $60 VG(VG+)
      ASD 582 Rimsky-Korsakov: Tsar Saltan Suite, etc- Kurtz $60 NM-

      Here is a nice Regal that is a little steep (early reissue of SAX 2303):
      http://www.ebay.com/itm/321150810379?ssPageName=STRK:MESINDXX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1436.l2649

      Should have bought this one:
      http://www.ebay.com/itm/171073067164?ssPageName=STRK:MESINDXX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1436.l2649

      I've seen some Regal's fetch over $100!

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    11. There's even a Regal Matacic!
      Lovro Von Matacic conducting The Philharmonia Orchestra: Russian Orchestral Favourites (Regal /EMI SREG 1049)

      I've been going through these to find the sublettering. This one is YAX which indicates a Columbia pressing in my book. Concert Classics typically start with 2YEA much like a gold and cream. The question is when did they start pressing these? They could well be contemporary with second label and that would not be good. $14 from Denmark.

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    12. On the YAX sub-lettering. I notice the quite valuable Brahms VC link above has the same sub-lettering as the original SAX and the SXLP concert classic. These are not all pressed from the same place. The early SAN releases are YAX most of the time. I suspect them to be Columbia pressings, but this adds some doubt. SAN 193 Mozart Requiem is a 2YEA. What does it all mean?

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    13. Regal started putting out LPs in 1965 (based on some recording info I have on some Regal pop LPs). I am guessing that concert classics came out later than this. They may have overlapped some.

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    14. And there off. Just looked at ebay 4 hours before close and prices exploding on these LPs. Getting a root canal during the closing time. I am out. I'll post final prices.

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    15. Lots to respond here.

      First, I'd be very happy to read some of the reviews you put together in your email. Please feel free to send them my way, and I can cut and paste them into posts for readers, making sure to acknowledge your contribution.

      Second, those are good deals that you list, but as you have already noticed, any price listed before 1 hour of the auction end is highly misleading. You just can't go by the early bids, because the sharks always bid at the LAST SECOND. That's how I won most of mine. The ones which I was foolish enough to bid on early at high prices always slipped out of my hands and sold for way more than they should have because I had put such a high bidding price to begin with, not thinking that someone would outbid me in the end. They always try to outbid you. Especially the wealthy Asian collectors. They will pay sky high prices for anything that has a collectable label.

      Of the ones you listed, I own the Arrau Tchaikovsky, the Karajan Sibelius, the Cantelli Beethoven, and the Kurtz Rimsky-Korsakov. The Arrau Tchaikovsky is nice, though not what I would say is my definitive version. Somehow, I might even prefer the Van Cliburn version with Kiril Kondrashin on RCA Living Stereo. The Karajan Sibelius is pretty famous (along with the 2nd symphony, also on SAX), sounds decent but not outstanding. The Cantelli Beethoven is a historical recording, especially since it is one of Cantelli's very few stereo recordings. Beautiful cover, nice interpretation, decent sound though, again, not as good as EMI would eventually produce. It always sells for a lot of money, though, particularly if it is in near mint condition. The Kurtz Rimsky-Korsakov is fantastic. Excellent sound, as are most of Kurtz's EMI ASD albums.

      Now that you show me the link, I have seen the Regal reissues. I haven't seen many people bid on them, and I can't say I know much about the sound quality. If they have YAX stampers, I suspect they use the same pressings as were used to make the Columbia SAX series. I just don't know if they used late stampers. I'm sure, though, that they are far more affordable than the SAX originals and might make good substitutes. IF it's still available, snatch the Matacic Russian Favorites. I'm pretty sure that is a reissue of SAX 2327.

      $100 for the Kurtz Artist Profile is ridiculous. I bought mine used on Amazon for less than $15, maybe even less than $10. Just keep your eye out for it and you'll get it. In fact, you can buy it on AMazon RIGHT NOW for $18.50 used or $19.99 (reissued by Arkivmusic.com). Now that is worth the purchase.

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    16. Here is the final numbers:
      SAX 2380 Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto no. 1 etc- Arrau $12 (46) VG++
      SAX 2392 Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 Finlandia- Karajan $30 (51) NM-
      ASD 460 Humperdinck- Hansel & Gretel, etc- Kempe $100 (157) VG+
      ASD 254 Beethoven: Symphony No.7- Cantelli $60 (157) VG(VG+)
      ASD 582 Rimsky-Korsakov: Tsar Saltan Suite, etc- Kurtz $60 (43) NM-

      Would have like to have been following and maybe bid on the Kurtz, but I was having a root canal done. I probably would have just made the price go higher. This album is available on SXLP 30076. That should sound extremely good too. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for a copy.

      ASD 532 looks like the only budget buster that is part of the Kurtz CD. I've got Kabelevsky the Comedians on RCA (original and classic reissue). There is a 7" single of the Prokofiev classical symphony of all things. ASD 263 with this and the Shostokovich Sym. 1 has been selling pretty cheap. And then the above ASD 582/SXLP 30076 rounds it out. I'd rather dabble in the LPs (I really don't like CDs). Silvestri was worth it at only $2 a disc. I love your recommendations because it gives me some nice titles to be on the lookout for.

      I'm not missing the Arrau Tchaikovsky PC1. I've got about 20 Van Cliburn's I need to sort out for the best copy (one of my first shaded dogs). I am quite taken by my Ogdon (ASD 542, semi-circle reissue). I've also got Marina Mdivani on concert classics SXLP 20106 which has good enough sound (very tubey), but I can't say I am in love. By the way, the above Ogdon and Annie Fischer Mozart PC 21&22 (sxlp 30124) have really stunning piano sound. All of my EMI are pretty exceptional and outclass any other label. I love piano concerti and I am in seventh heaven.

      I will generally snipe except on lower priced LPs where I would only bid a couple dollars more than the asking price. In that case I lock in my price. I've taken to putting items on my wish list rather than watching them as other buyers can see that someone is watching. The outbidding thing applies to anything and anyone, not just wealthy SAX collectors.

      Not sure how to email to you as I could not find an email address through the blog.

      On the YAX front, it means little. All of my concert classic SXLP pressings of Columbia stuff retain the YAX lettering, but most definitely sound like ASD pressings of various ages. (The early stuff sounds like my one gold and cream.) On inspecting my original YAX pressings on Columbia and SAN Angel I noticed that the typeset was clear and distinct. The ASD records have the same typeset, but it is a little harder to pick up. My YAX concert classic records' lettering is harder to pickup when viewing. I think the early Columbia SAX pressings were better than the gold and cream asd pressings. It would be interesting to get my hand on a few Regal's and see if the lettering is clear and distinct. It would be very interesting to hear some SAX pressings of ASD titles too.

      I'll need to do some more listening to tweak out my favorite pressings. I am a little less enthused about the color postage stamp recordings (still love the reissues). Accidentally bought a B&W stamp of one of these and I kind of like it. Still sorting this out, so not ready to buy another batch of LP's yet.

      I see at least one dealer with a copy of ASD 582/SXLP 30076 for $9. He's got quite a few other titles that are priced low enough to catch my interest, so hopefully I can determine how I want to proceed. I am thinking I will get several examples where I have 2 or 3 of the reissue pressings to compare.


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  3. I think Youngrok Lee's sight is evidence of the seriousness of the Far East collectors. Japanese audio nuts have pillaged the United States over the last 30 years for vintage electronics and parts. I have heard of them driving around the country to various surplus electronics places on a regular basis. Once again, I suspect the Far East is taking the lead with Columbia/EMI classical.

    With RCA and Mercury (and even London with its European orchestras), a lot more LPs were sold in the USA than Decca or EMI sold in England. The lesser shaded dogs can be had easily allowing one to have a thorough collection. Some low selling chamber music can set you back a $100 or so. With Decca and EMI the scarcity of some LPs probably makes the prices very high. Given this, it would not take many collectors looking for a thorough catalog to inflate prices of some of the poor sounding records. They also may not be aware of your discovery that often Columbia used the Epic plates for their issues.

    For sonic purposes, these Epic pressed SAX are likely useless. I have a Concert Classic SXLP of Milstein/Pittsburg Tchaikovsky VC1. It was originally a Capitol recording. It may actually suffer as an EMI pressing. The original tape is not capable of the great EMI bass and the Capitol tube sound is lessened. I have a Milstein Masterpieces on Capitol. Noisy, but a wonderful LP. It does not have the emi excellence in the bass, but Milstein sounds great. Vintage stereo era Capitol classical is pretty rare as not many titles were produced. The Epic Szell records that I have seem a bit dry and don't appear to be audio masterpieces. I doubt even a true SAX pressing could take these to audio greatness. Every Columbia 2nd label I have blows sonically too. Most of the Epic stuff is on the 2nd label (some late in the blue and silver series). Who knows, the Epic may sound better than the SAX mastered versions. I see some high ratings here for sound with Szell, but I doubt they have the magic of the better SAX.

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  4. There is definitely interest in Asia, particularly China, Taiwan, and Japan. I've sold over 300 of the records in my collection over the past few months, and the highest bidders have generally come from Asia, though my most recent set of auctions were won by an American gentleman in California. There is a lot of loose cash lying around in Asia, apparently, which is being spent on records. I'm done collecting for now, since I find that I do most of my listening in the car and in my office, though my serious listening I do at home.

    At one point, I owned most of the RCAs and Mercuries. I sold most of them on Ebay, some for prices I would not have imagined possible, but I have kept a number of my favorites. I will most likely never part with my RFR1 copy of SR 90313, Paul Paray conducting music of Ravel. On the RCA label, Reiner's Festival, Reiner's Debussy Iberia, Jean Morel's Bizet L'Arlesienne Suites, Hugo Rignold's Sylvia and Coppelia, and about a dozen or so others will remain in my collection. These are all sonically fantastic and truly enjoyable to listen to. I've owned some of the stereo shaded dog Festival Quartet piano quartet recordings on RCA, which are pretty hard to find. I sold two of them and have kept LSC 2517 for sentimental reasons. Most of these I collected about 10 years ago when I was in my early 20s and scoured the used record stores of Chicago and Washington, DC.

    To reply to your comment about the Szell SAXes, they might be a little higher than I would rate them now, considering that I was on a big Szell kick a few months ago. Regardless, they do sound very very nice, though perhaps not quite to the level of some of the finest SAX recordings. Likewise, solo piano SAX recordings don't blow me away either. I have many of Charles Rosen's SAX records (e.g. Debussy Etudes, Schubert Piano Sonata, etc), and while there is a nice warm sound to the piano, it doesn't quite have the realism that many of the best Decca piano recordings have. In fact, I might even say that I prefer the piano sound of CDs and SACDs to vinyl. I have not done a complete comparison side by side of all of Szell's Epic and SAX releases, but those which I have done (namely, the Mendelssohn Italian Symphony) sound pretty similar. I would say that maybe the main difference may be in the quality of vinyl used for the pressing, but I bet that the mothers were similar or the same. Now, you do have to keep in mind that some of the Szell recordings were NOT exact replicates of the US releases. For instance, SAX 2510, Szell conducting Beethoven's 7th along with Wagner's Tannhauser Overture, was not released in that combination in the U.S. I believe that EMI probably remastered these and did not use the US Epic mothers. The only way to know for sure would be to check the stampers. If they are YAX, we know they originated from the UK.

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  5. I've got about 9000 LPs and counting. You were lucky to be able to hunt in such urbane areas. I used to be a bit of a road warrior. I have been contemplating selling off almost all of my collection. I enjoy getting new stuff, but what is the point of keeping everything. The more I sell the more I can afford to buy.

    Those are some impressive doggies you've got there. I've only got the classic reissues on the ones named. I've have most of the RCA's in one version or another. Quite a few mercury are of interest to me. I've long wanted Resphigi Brazilian Impressions (had the CD).

    I don't listen to CD at all. I sometimes snag some flac or mp3 to get a better listen to a recording, but its been a while. My car does not have the trunk changer. Rather than mess with that I'd like to rig it for MP3. Mercedes Bose system does not play well with other electronics, but I need to investigate. Just picked this car in the last year and amazingly the stereo is still functional (1993). My previous model was losing components quickly (changer probably ate my Brazilian Impressions when it locked up), so I am loath to put too much effort into upgrading a doomed system. It takes time to listen and not the most active of hobbies. I've been listening fairly heavily lately and basically do not watch tv except for some sports.

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  6. At work now but will respond in detail to your posts tonight. Thanks!

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