Sunday, August 4, 2013

Columbia SAX 2280 Kletzki's famous Sibelius

SAX 2280

Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D major

Paul Kletzki, conductor

Philharmonia Orchestra

Pressing: ED1
Condition: NM

YAX 59-7
YAX 60-4

Performance: 9/10

Sound: 7/10

Price range: $38-214, mean $85 on popsike

Comments:  I think this is my favorite recording of the Sibelius 2nd.  Originally recorded on July 15-16th, 1955 in early stereo.  Although Karajan also recorded it with the Philharmonia for British Columbia (and then later for DG), I don't like his as much as I like Kletzki's.  Sound here is very nice, tube sounding. 

Here is a passage from its original Gramophone review in 1956:

"Kletzki makes an impetuous attack on the music which is virtually completely successful, carried along by a marvelous quality of both orchestral playing and recording... Whether it is a sweep of full-bodied tone, a biting attack, a resonant pizzicato, or a sensitive solo that is called for, it is always there; even to tunes from the basses with a distinctly above-average proportion of note to rumble. And all of it set off by a brilliant quality of recording with fine internal balance...The new Kletzki...addresses the listener directly and convincingly." 

This album was remastered for CD on Kletzki's EMI Artist Profile.  The sad thing, though, is that there is this weird clicking noise which shows up on more than one of the Sibelius tracks.  I actually listened to more than one copy of this CD, and the problem was present on both.  Have no idea what happened during the remastering.  If you want this Sibelius, skip out on the digital and find it on LP.  Fortunately, Hi-Q Supercuts recently remastered this on LP, which can be purchased for about $35.  I have not heard this reissue but would be very interested in comparing it to the original.


  1. That sounds like an album worth acquiring. There is the nice SXLP 30061 for super cheap, but the blue and silver can be had. This ad is still active and has a five minute sample!

    1. Yes, I think if you look around, you'll eventually find it. I've seen copies sell for less than $100, and the one you just pointed out was a pretty good deal (if you don't mind the lamination issue)! Don't forget about the Hi-Q reissue. If I hadn't bought the original first, I would've seriously considered the reissue. I suspect that they cleaned up the sound for this, and I wouldn't be surprised if it sounded superior to the original. $35.

  2. I've not heard Hi-Q pressings and all I will say is that I eagerly await the work of the Electric Recording Company. Given the reasonable price, I would strongly recommend the original. That's how I feel.

    Did you think that copy was NM- based on the clip? I'd think more VG++.

    Grading on ebay I've been happy with, but when you are talking big bucks it matters! My SAX2375 Peter and the Wolf was graded NM, but said "BEGINNING OF SIDE 2 HAS 4 TINY SCRATCHES IN THE DEAD WAX WHICH CREATES A LIGHT TICK INTO 20 SECONDS OF THE PROGRAM.", so I did not bid super high and was very pleased for my $36. This guy showed no grading system.

    Here are the following types of systems I've seen:
    Mint Excellent VeryGood (no plus or minus)
    Mint NM VG (with plus or minus, but usually not on mint)
    Mint Excellent VG (with plus or minus, and I bought from one seller who had this scale and slid in some NMs, and I told him my opinion of that nicely).
    Mint NM Excellent VG (with pluses or minuses)

    I kind of like the last one as VG+ is the most consistent grading, and it gives you shades in between. VG+ for classical is usually marginal, so I like excellent grading. Mint should be for a record that is known to have only been played a few times. NM is the usual top rating. If I sell I am not sure what you recommend? How do you interpret as a buyer. I look at feedback closely to make sure no complaints of over grading and adjust my bidding accordingly.

    There is a big difference between excellent and NM pressings in price when we start talking about $100 records. I am not a noise freak so on the little stuff I am happy if its within a grading level. On Blue and Silver, this is suddenly a big concern especially if I later sell an LP. Since I would have play graded any of these I can't visual grade in good conscience. You under grade on these LPs and it costs you money right away. If you over grade and that gets into your feedback, then it will cost for a long time.

    1. I think you ask some important questions. Grading is always somewhat of a subjective task, as objective as you try to be. One man's VG is another man's EX, and one man's near mint is another man's VG+. It's so inconsistent. Moreover, sometimes you buy a NM record which is visually graded, and it does not sound NM at all. Those who sound grade are probably the most accurate, if they tell all. As a seller on Ebay, I can tell you that conservative grading is the safest, even if it means you don't sell your record for the highest price. At least your customers are happy. I opted for a system of NM (a rare distinction for me), EX to EX+ (EX+ being more like NM in my scale), VG-VG+. I didn't sell anything short of VG, and the only VGs I offered were super rare records like the Royal Ballet Gala with Ansermet. In spite of being VG, that still sold for more than $200. I tried my best to sound test records, though as time went on, I usually spot checked just to make sure things were okay. In the 300 records I sold, I got maybe 2 complaints and gave them both discounts on their records, which they were more than happy with. I refuse to be the jerk who is just interested in trying to make a buck.

    2. For classical, I would say stick to anything that is VG++ or EX and above. I've been plain lucky with one VG record of Kempe conducting Brahms' 3rd on EMI ASD which I got for $50 (only because they were averaging in the several hundreds of dollars) -- this one is really at least a VG++ and more like EX. Sounds actually quite great and I don't mind a couple pops here and there. If you have a choice, though, go for at least EX+. Usually, those are pretty reliable.

  3. I agree on the noise, and sometimes a record just does not sound right and it can look near mint. I got an unsatisfying VG+ recently so I will stay away. However, sometimes you can tell a seller is ultra conservative. The recent sets of records I've written on buying were from such a seller. I bumped his grading up and he got really amazing money for his records. On that SAX2375 he might have said "record looks excellent, but because of ticks VG+ on side B". He graded both sides of the records too. If you can communicate you are being conservative and actually are it seems the best strategy to do well.

    I've had good luck on ebay so far, but you get burned a few times and you won't want to buy from anyone. I've got friends who say this. It seems like ebay is better these days.

    1. Yes, once burned, you're always a little more conscientious about buying on Ebay. Selling is the same thing. You get one or two dissatisfied customers who ask for a refund or discount and you want to never sell a record again on Ebay. Fortunately, if you're courteous and can pleasantly resolve the situation, that helps in the long run.

  4. Yes, once burned, you're always a little more conscientious about buying on Ebay. Selling is the same thing. You get one or two dissatisfied customers who ask for a refund or discount and you want to never sell a record again on Ebay. Fortunately, if you're courteous and can pleasantly resolve the situation, that helps in the long run.