Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture
Berlioz: Hungarian March
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
Sibelius: Valse Triste
Weber: Invitation to the Dance
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Price range: $29-116, mean $52 on popsike
Comments: With the exception of the Valse Triste by Sibelius, the works on this album are among the orchestral showpiece repertoire. What better way to demonstrate the dynamic range of your audio system than to launch into Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, complete with cannons and bells? This album would be just that kind of album, if it just weren't for the issue with blurriness and loss of clarity during those forte and fortissimo passages. I'm beginning to wonder if I need to upgrade my cartridge, in the case that this issue is due to my cartridge's inability to clearly resolve the music here. If anyone else has this album and claims that it sounds perfect on their system, please let me know. I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts.
The performances here are quite enjoyable. Although I don't listen to it regularly, I do appreciate and like the 1812, and much of the musical fun occurs when the orchestra is playing its heart out. I love the cannons and the bells, but on this recording, the cannons and bells are somewhat blurred in with the orchestra, whose sound also gets blurred at the same time on the record. So, instead of being able to appreciate the variety of instruments, you get something like a sonic mess. Rather regrettable, to be honest, since this record would otherwise be a winner. Side 2 with the Liszt, Sibelius, and Weber is better in this regard than side 1 but not immune to the same problems with sound in the loud passages. Perhaps I'm being too critical here, but I figured that if you are going to dish out some dough for this album -- and I have seen buyers on Ebay do that -- just be aware. That being said, when the music is played at lower dynamic ranges, which it does for most of the record, the record sounds beautiful. This is one example of an analog album in which you can feel the presence and realism of the orchestra more than on a digital album. You get an idea of the hall acoustics here. So, recommended for the performances and the sound (mostly).