Beethoven Violin Concerto
Nathan Milstein, violin
Eric Leinsdorf, conductor
Price range: $30-1137, mean $309
Comments: Essentially all of Nathan Milstein's recordings released by EMI/Columbia on the SAX series are among the most collectable albums in this series. They were all released in the US on the Angel label, and despite the high prices paid for the SAX equivalents, these Angel albums never sell for very much. Case in point ... I once tried to sell two Milstein Angel stereo recordings in near mint condition on Ebay starting at $4.99 a piece, and not one person bid on either of them. Just look at the price range on this album. Naturally, the $1137 was for a blue/silver first pressing which is very rare. I snatched up a semi-circle second label, which I felt would certainly suffice. It's a beautiful sounding record with one of my favorite performances of the Beethoven violin concerto. (David Oistrakh also recorded one of my favorite performances of this concerto for EMI/Columbia with Andre Cluytens and the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra ... this review coming up.) I am not sure if this second pressing is any inferior to the blue/silver first, but I did want to make one observation. Notice the different stamper numbers; there is no YAX. If I am correct, those are Angel stampers, because the US release of this album was none other than Angel 35783, the same number on the stampers. A quick look at the last blue/silver pressing of this album to sell on Ebay shows that its stampers also contained the number 35783, so I don't think that the second pressing had any different stampers than the originals. Could it be that these UK pressings were essentially made from the same masters as the US pressings? And if that is the case, would the UK pressings actually sound any better than the US? I have not done the side by side, but just think if there was no difference. You'd be paying hundreds to thousands of dollars for a record which might just be equivalent to a $1-5 Angel copy. Now, I'm not saying that this is the case, since it's not just about all about the stampers and masters. The quality of the vinyl, for instance, used to produce the SAX records was likely better than that used to produce the Angels, and that could have an impact on the sound quality of the record. In any case, this would be an experiment I'd like to try sometime, if I find a copy of the Angel release of this same record. Until then, you might want to hold off on blowing a huge wad of dough on this record, unless you absolutely have to have Milstein's UK pressings.