Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Columbia SAX 2339 Markevitch's Outstanding Tchaikovsky Ballets

SAX 2339

Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet, Nutcracker Suite

Igor Markevitch, conductor
Philharmonia Orchestra

Pressing: ER2

Condition: NM

YAX 313-3
YAX 314-6

Performance: 10/10

Sound: 8/10

Price range: $27-106, mean $57 on popsike

Comments:   Igor Markevitch is one of my favorite conductors of this era and of all time.  His interpretations of some of the great Russian orchestral works are among the very best, and I'd say that this performance of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture and Nutcracker Suite is a good example.  The Philharmonia is in excellent form here.  I would like to say that the sound quality is really superb.  I was honestly and pleasantly surprised, and this is a second pressing!  Dynamic range is excellent, sound stage is expansive, and clarity is top notch at nearly all dynamic levels (the only exception being in the final measures of the finale of the Nutcracker, which my system was just not quite able to perfectly resolve).  Of the Columbia SAXes I've covered so far, this may be one of the best sounding I've heard.


  1. This would be a good one to try the second pressing! No reissues on LP I can see, just the lowly Angel.

  2. Follow up thoughts, February 14, 2015

    Listening to this album again on my all-tube system and I'm even more impressed than I was when I reviewed this in 2013. Listening to the Trepak from the Nutcracker, I was amazed at the bass solidity. Meles, who has consistently been one to praise the bass on EMI recordings, is right again. I can't think of another record label at the time that produced a Nutcracker recording with this bass. Not the Reiner Living Stereo, not the Ansermet Decca. I need to re-audition the Sawallisch SAX and the Kurtz ASD to see if EMI did as fine a job with those on the bass. Not that the bass makes or breaks the album, but it certainly gives the music more ooomph.

    1. Well. I got this same pressing and it just does not do it for me on the nutcracker. The second pressings on Columbia just do not work well on my system for some reason (I'll have to try them elsewhere). I guess I am in love with the sound of the nutcracker highlights on london with Ansermet (CS6099) which as a wonderful treble region on my system. The second pressings on Columbia are often just too rolled off on my system. Perhaps my Vandersteen 4a's are a bit dark and the Von Schweikarts might err the other way.

    2. Interesting observation. Yes, I'd love to hear it on your system for comparison. I'd also love to hear if the blue/silver offers any more magic than the semi-circle.