Saturday, September 28, 2013

RCA Living Stereo LSC-2398 Fabulous Khachaturian and Kabalevsky with Kiril Kondrashin

RCA Living Stereo LSC-2398

Khachaturian: Masquerade Suite
Kabalevsky: The Comedians

Kiril Kondrashin, conductor
RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra

Pressing: US, first pressing with shaded dog

Condition: VG++

Stampers: 1S/1S

Date first published: 1960

Performance: 10/10


Sound: 9/10

Price range: $25-316, mean $86 on popsike

Comments:  This is one of the RCA Living Stereo sonic blockbusters.  Not only is this fun, exciting, dynamic music, but the performances are first rate and the sound matches it.  During freshman year of high school, I had the chance to play the second violin part to the Waltz and Galop movements of Khachaturian's Masquerade Suite for the Illinois Music Education Association (IMEA) District Fall Concert Festival.  Having never heard the pieces before, it was exhilarating to finally hear the music performed by the entire orchestra.  After the concert was over, I was eager to find a recording of the Masquerade Suite at the local library but had no luck.  It wasn't until almost ten years later, when I picked up a copy of this record, that I could enjoy the Waltz and Galop all over again.  We might've played our hearts out at that district concert, but we didn't stand a chance against Kiril Kondrashin and the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra.

I've been pining a lot lately about the distortion on many of the expensive classical records from the "Golden Era", but this one goes scott-free without complaints.  Dynamic range is excellent, and clarity at all dynamic levels is superb.  Sound stage is expansive and deep, truly giving you the sensation of hearing the music live in the concert hall.  You can really sit back and appreciate the hall acoustics. 

Quoting from Jonathan Valin's The RCA Bible:


"One of the great RCA's.  Although the hall is as big as a campground and the choirs of the orchestra are arrayed like Boy Scout troops on it, this record, especially the Kabalesky side, is sheer delight.  You just don't find top-notch transparency, detail, snap, and ambiance combined with accurate timbre and wonderful playing on all that many records.  #10 on CBK's Top RCA list, as well it should be."

There you have it.  If you find a good copy, don't let it get away.  This album was also reissued as RCA VICS 1007.




Saturday, September 14, 2013

ASD 3255 & Nonesuch H-71071 Haydn and Boccherini Cello Concertos

ASD 3255 Haydn: Cello Concertos in D & C
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Iona Brown, Rostropovitch

Nonesuch H-71071 Haydn: Cello Concerto in D, Boccherini: Cello Concerto in B Flat
Camerata Academia of the Salzburg Mozarteum, Paumgartner, Navarra

Performance: 4.5/5

Sound: 4.5/5 (ASD)  5/5 (Nonesuch)

$10 Black & White Postage Stamp (Ring), $5 Glossy Nonesuch

Listen to Boccherini (Euro LP):
Part 1     Part 2


Performance:
I was greatly impressed by the Rostropovich Haydn Cello Concerto in D and would rate it a 5 for performance.  The Concerto in C was not as good when compared to some live performances of Rostropovich on youtube (the Haydn D on youtube was no where near like the one on the ASD).  On the Nonesuch, Navarra is fine with the Haydn D, but I much prefer the Rostropovich.  Navarra's Boccherini is another matter as is the playing of the Camerata Academia of the Salzburg Mozarteum, Bernhard Paumgartner conducting; a marvelous performance.

Sound:
The ASD barely makes it to 4.5 with very pleasing, layered, if somewhat antiseptic, cello sound. The midrange starved Ring pressing, does have decent noise floor performance. The somewhat astringent sound in the strings works well with this music. Herr Salvatore has the ASD in his Honorable Mentions.

Nonesuch offers "Significant recordings at sensible prices without compromising quality. Each NONESUCH record enjoys the most advanced engineering techniques, a pure virgin vinyl surface, unusual covers of artistic merit and comprehensive notes. A new concept in fine recordings for the producers of Elektra Records." I am not sure about all that, but I will say the covers for the first 125 releases do have a glossy plastic front cover, but I am not so sure about the artistic merit which at least lends a consistency to the covers with the nice Nonesuch 'n'. The recording quality has always been excellent on Nonesuch with 11 on the Salvatore Supreme Recordings lists and at least five appearing on the Harry Pearson Super Disc List including one early glossy, Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos (K. 365) Nonesuch H-71028.  With the about the first 60 Nonesuch's feature a virgin vinyl surface that is quieter than any golden age vinyl (truly a miracle, unlike the RCA Miracle Surface.)

The Nonesuch used here was a REVIEW COPY from WCLV in Cleveland that was probably played a handful of times.  It is not ultra quiet so if acquiring a copy of this LP be sure to get one in top condition.

The first 125 Nonesuch releases are all tube affairs with often stellar sound that exceeds the lone Super Disc resident, H-71028. The record under review is a bit better sonically than H-71028. So what is this sound? The silkiest string tone on vinyl, couple with a wonderful treble transparency unmatched by any other label. Depth and bass are pleasing. Overall a very pleasing, utterly sublime sound that transports you back in time to the sound of chamber music in the eighteenth century with an extremely jaunty feel to the music. The Farlex Free Dictionary best sums up jaunty as "Having a buoyant or self-confident air; brisk....  or Crisp and dapper in appearance." With early Nonesuch often we have delightfully jaunty string tone and sound.

These early glossy Nonesuch are all pressed by American Decca with typeset lettering in the dead wax (the lead out of the vinyl by the label).  The easiest way to first distinguish these pressings is by the glossy cover. The reissues generally will not have the glossy covers, but always check for the typeset lettering.  Also for the first 60 be sure that the back cover has the above blurb that mentions virgin vinyl or the LP won't be virgin vinyl.

The recording in question was licensed from Eurodsic Musikproduktion, Germany.  All of the glossy Nonesuch's were licensed from Europe and typically from French companies, so this is a rarity from Germany and may be the only Eurodisc Nonesuch.

This record demonstrates some of the flaws in the Nonesuch sound.  With the Haydn D, the American Decca pressing's extra zip in the treble takes things a bit far with the cello almost sounding like a viola. Undoubtedly much of this is also from the tape.  With this piece the sound is fine enough. Fortunately, the Boccherini on side B is beautifully balanced with near perfect sound.  One of the better Nonesuch's despite some noise issues with the vinyl.  A strong 5 for sound on this side.

The Boccherini LP links above are to a European pressing and give a pretty good idea as to the sound of the Nonesuch, but sound quite a bit drier and grainier to these ears without the American Decca mastering.

Here is Rostropovich in a much better performance of the Haydn C:




Friday, September 13, 2013

Dog Fight: ASD 3018 Tchaikovsky Manfred Symphony, LSO, Previn



ASD 3018 vs. Alto Reissue, Tchaikovsky Manfred Symphony
LSO, Previn

Performance: 3.5/5

Sound: 4/5

$10 Black & White Postage Stamp (Ring), $30 Alto

Dog Fight Pressing Comparison Series

Listen to CD Version 2nd and 3rd movements:
2nd      3rd


Performance:
Well one Amazon reviewer summed up Previn's performance; a bit lackluster.  I concur.

{Lord Byron published his dramatic poem Manfred in 1817, and since then several composers including Robert Schumann in 1849 and Peter Tchaikovsky in 1885 have set it to music. The poem is typical of the extravagant Romanticism of the young Byron, all about a tortured hero bedeviled by guilt over a mysterious affair with his half-sister Astarte, fleeing into the surrounding Alpine countryside, calling upon supernatural forces to free him of his pain, and then, tormented, rejected, downcast, and unable to forgive or forget but defiant to the end, finally dying unredeemed. How's that for melodrama?

In the case of Tchaikovsky, he was reluctant at first to set it to music. He felt Schumann had already done it well enough, and there was nothing more he could add. Besides, he was not too keen on doing any more programmatic music, music that told a story or described a scene, despite the success of his Romeo and Juliet and Tempest overtures and Swan Lake ballet some years earlier. Go figure. Still, at the urging of friends and after a visit to the Alpine regions where Byron laid out the story, he proceeded, anyway. When he completed the Manfred Symphony, he hailed it as one of his best works. Then, after its lukewarm public and critical reception, he practically disowned it, saying only the first movement was any good. An artist's temperamental disposition, maybe, or just a reaction to apparent disapproval? Fortunately, the work survived (as did Tchaikovsky's interest in literary subjects, his doing a Hamlet overture a couple of years later as well as the Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker ballets).}  from right here on blogspot: http://classicalcandor.blogspot.com/2010/06/tchaikovsky-manfred-symphony-sacd.html

Sound:
The fourth movement is the powerhouse and gets a full side on the German Alto reissue, with the 2nd and 3rd movements on side 2 of this 3 side reissue (the fourth side is blank). Mr. Salvatore refers to these three sided Alto's as stupendous and they do make his Basic list. Perhaps with the right system the Alto's can deliver some memorable dynamics, but to my ears they fall short versus the original ASD Ring pressing. While the Alto offers a little more oomph in the lows, the Ring does well in this regard. The Ring is able to integrate the bass with the hall sound to a much greater degree than the Alto. The Alto also suffers from a dryness in the strings that firmly relegates it into second place. The original Ring pressing just does a better job of integrating everything with a better more layered soundstage and a more sublime sound.  The Ring also appears to achieve a slightly lower noise floor.

The later EMI releases all have issues with delivering truly dynamic bass featuring a tight, constrained bass presentation.  I suspect much of the issue is in the tape recordings themselves.  One can get stupendous bass from these same later pressings when they are a reissue of the golden age EMI recordings or those from the mid-sixties.

The other area where the later pressings fall down is the midrange.  With the strings, there just is not enough rosin on the bow so to speak.  I suspect this is due to the introduction of integrated circuits into the recording chain in place of discrete transistors.  The more complex signal path in these designs just appears to bleach the colors out of the midrange.  The impact is not as bad with the reissues of earlier material on these labels.  The Ring pressing may have the best midrange of the later labels, but it does not have as good a noise floor.

The Ring does rate a 4 for sound overall despite these deficiencies.  Be sure to listen to the fourth movement as it is the sonic powerhouse on this LP.  Later EMI pressings may be a possibility for this record, but I suspect their benefits will not outweigh the further loss of what midrange is on the original tapes.

EMI Pressings Sound Matrix

The Matrix:

One of the problems with EMI is they have so many excellent pressings (we are British focused). Which one is best? Often, the answer with most labels is always the original. Often this is the case with EMI, but not always. Often the originals are very expensive, and a reissue pressing can be had for next to nothing that beats the original in some areas, and possibly overall. The following is part of a larger spreadsheet I am using to keep sonic notes in for general impressions of the originals and reissues.

These are extremely preliminary results, so this is a work in progress.  I will update this frequently and welcome all comments and contributions on the various reissues.

Here is how it works.  The column headings list the original pressing.  As your work down the rows it shows what reissues are possible (you'll lose sight of the column headings so keep a mental note of the columns you.  The first number is a general sonic rating for the original or reissue based on the column and is followed by comments.  The matrix in the spreadsheet is 21 columns wide.  These are just the first three, but I will add further columns in sets of three as I have more information.  For now we start with the three main golden label pressings.  These represent the loin's share of reissue activity, however issues of the later transistor based recordings will also be of strong interest and should start showing up within the month.  Some small sister golden age labels, like BSD, SBO, and SCX are omitted due to lack of recordings and a presumption that they match one of these three labels.

Reissue\Issue Gold & Cream Blue and Silver CSD Gold & Green
Gold & Cream 9.5 – Strongest bass performance for tube pressings with excellent harmonic detail. Bass is not quite as tight as later reissues. N/A N/A
Blue and Silver N/A 10 – Excellent, tight bass performance, often couple with ever so slightly accentuated midrange N/A
CSD Gold & Green N/A N/A unknown, handful or recordings including Pineapple
CSD Mini N/A N/A
HQS Mini Beecham reissues, unknown
N/A
Regal 9 – tighter bass and resolution results in sweeter midrange presentation and more toe tapping bass while still retain much of the original tube sound 10 – tighter bass and resolution results in sweeter midrange presentation and more toe tapping bass while still retain much of the original tube sound N/A
MFP see Regal above see Regal above
Semi (SAX or ASD) 9.5 – Impressive dynamics and coherence surpassing the original pressing, but some fine graininess to sound 8 – Loses much of the tube magic and special midrange N/A
SAN White Angel
9 – Similar to blue and silver for imaging, but a less refined, coarser sound
SXLP 20000 N/A N/A N/A
SXLP30000 Chevron 9 – tighter, stronger bass and resolution results in sweeter midrange presentation and more toe tapping bass while still retain much of the original tube sound. Piano sound very fine. 9.5 – tighter, stronger bass and resolution results in sweeter midrange presentation and more toe tapping bass while still retain much of the original's tube sound. Piano sound very fine. N/A
CFP Box 9.5 – Extremely impressive bass, highs, and soundstaging, but midrange a hair dry 9.5 – Extremely impressive bass, highs, and soundstaging, but midrange a hair dry 9.5 – Extremely impressive bass, highs, and soundstaging, but midrange a hair dry
1st Stamp(ASD/SAX) 9 – Much like semi, but a bit constrained and cold sounding in comparison 9.5 – excellent balance and very strong bass compared to the original pressing, but bass almost too
SAN Black Angel


SAN Yellow


CFP Scroll 9.5 – Extremely impressive bass, highs, and soundstaging, but midrange a hair dry 9.5 – Extremely impressive bass, highs, and soundstaging, but midrange a hair dry
CSD Green


HQS Maroon


SXLP Ring 8.5 – Good bass and dynamics, but midrange is dry and much of the vintage sound is lost 8.5 – Good bass and dynamics, but midrange is dry and much of the vintage sound is lost
B&W Stamp 8.5 – Good bass and dynamics, but midrange is dry and much of the vintage sound is lost 8.5 – Good bass and dynamics, but midrange is dry and much of the vintage sound is lost
Color Ring


ESD Green

9 – Truely impressive bass and treble dynamics, but midrange a bit reticent and defocused. Noise floor improvement.
Big Dog 9 – Truly impressive bass and treble dynamics, but midrange a bit reticent and defocused, some noise floor improvement

Philips Hi-Fi Stereo 835 524 AY Bernstein Beethoven 7th

Philips Hi-Fi Stereo 835 524 AY (SABL 139)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7

Leonard Bernstein, conductor
New York Philharmonic

Pressing: Dutch, Plum label with Hi-Fi Stereo logo

Condition: EX

Date first published: 1959 (US)

Stampers: 
AA 835 524 1Y = 12 // 670 11C
AA 835 524 2Y = 1 // 670 11C

Performance: 8/10


Sound: 6/10


Price range:  $20-70, mean $42 on popsike

Comments:  This is my first review of an early Philips Hi-Fi Stereo album.  Interestingly, as you can see on the rear cover, the record has two catalog numbers, one is 835 524 AY (which I believe is the Dutch Philips number) and SABL 139 (which I believe is the UK number).  This record is the European issue of the U.S. Columbia six-eye recording MS 6112, released in 1959.  As I have looked over the early Philips stereo catalog, I've noticed that many of the albums are indeed European issues of existing U.S. Columbia recordings.  Not surprising, perhaps, considering that Philips was the European distributor for U.S. Columbia at that time.  Seeing that there is a significant price differential between the Philips issues and the corresponding U.S. Columbia records, I've long been interested to know if the Philips issues were sonically superior or if there was much a difference between the pressings.  Unfortunately, I don't have the Columbia six-eye of this record in review, but I will do my best to comment on what I heard on this Philips release. 

My overall impression here:  frankly, I was not impressed.  Bernstein gives us a decent enough interpretation of the Beethoven 7th symphony -- one of favorites of the nine -- though I have heard more impassioned or more disciplined vinyl performances by the likes of George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra (Columbia/Epic), Antal Dorati with the London Symphony Orchestra (Mercury), Fritz Reiner with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (RCA), and Georg Solti with the Vienna Philharmonic (Decca).  In my opinion, the second movement is one of the most beautiful symphonic movements ever composed, but here I was left unmoved (just listen and compare with Dorati's recording with the LSO or Kleiber's with the VPO).  The tempos of the third and fourth movements were a bit slow for my liking (though not as slow as Klemperer with the Philharmonia).  The Philips surface is noticeably quiet, which may be its chief selling point.  Sound stage is pretty wide, though you don't get to really appreciate much in terms of hall acoustics.  Dynamic range was okay though not great, just as one might expect from an early U.S. Columbia stereo recording, and the entire album suffered from moderate distortion and lack of clarity in all loud passages of music.  That was my major disappointment.  Though I haven't been able to compare this with the original Columbia six-eye LP, I cross-checked this with the digital remaster (Leonard Bernstein's The Symphony Edition on Sony Classical), which was free of distortion.  Treble is bright, bass is somewhat shy on the LP.

So my first sound experiment with early Philips Hi-Fi Stereo was underwhelming.  Again, this may very well be due to the fact that this album was not recorded by Philips engineers to begin with.  I have a couple of Philips-engineered, Philips-pressed Hi-Fi Stereo albums coming up and will report back with my observations.

Below is a digitized version of the Columbia 6-eye recording from youtube.  Not sure if any sound editing was done to it, but I think it sounds pretty similar to the Philips.



Monday, September 9, 2013

Dog Fight: SXLP 30086 Gilels Beethoven Piano Concerto 4

SXLP 30086 vs. SBO 2752 
Emil Gilels plays Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4

Ludwig, Gilels, Philharmonia

Performance: 5/5

Sound: 4.5/5

$5 SXLP Chevrons, $30 Blue and Silver

Dog Fight Pressing Comparison Series

Listen to CD Version:
YouTube


Performance:
*{In several respects I prefer these recordings to Gilels’ remakes with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. The pianist’s spacious conception of the Fourth Concerto cuts Beethoven’s rippling passagework and long trills plenty of poetic slack, and he doesn’t beat the first movement’s left-hand szforzandos over your head as he did under Szell.
Like Gieseking, Gilels’ symmetrical phrase shaping sidesteps the angular accentuation and harmonic tension Leon Fleisher brings out, and he favors Beethoven’s alternate, slightly jarring first-movement cadenza. Still, this remains an impressive performance, and the Philharmonia Orchestra’s first-desk woodwind soloists deserve special mention.}
- See more at: http://www.classicstoday.com/review/review-11972/#sthash.e3JGqlyi.dpuf


Sound:
Daylight and champaign discovers not more: the chevron is open. I will be proud, I will read politic authors, I will baffle Blue-Silver, I will wash off gross acquaintance, I will be point-devise the very man. I do not now fool myself, to let imagination jade me; for every reason excites to this, that the SXLP is music. Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.


SXLP Chevron 4.5
SBO Blue and Silver 2.5
In comparison to the Blue and Silver the Chevron is music with unimaginably better bass and sound. The piano tone is excellent (some other EMIs are better) and far better than the digital youtube version above with incredibly nuanced, subtle tone that really lets you hear Gilels. The sound of plucked strings is excellent with a nice bass foundation. The record is a little shy in the treble which keeps it from true sonic greatness. The Chevron is a great marrying of the sweetness and accuracy of discrete transistors with the tube mastering on this recording. The difference in clarity with the piano is stunning while still retaining a nice tube sound. It utterly destroys the Blue and Silver and is highly recommended considering you also get Oistrakh doing the Mozart Violin Concerto 3 (SAX 2304, $900).

But Why?
The SBO under review is an earlier Blue and Silver pressing.  It does not sound as good as my other Blue and Silver recordings and there is little doubt that this early pressing is deficient in the bass given the drubbing by the Concert Classic release.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

EMI Family Labelography and Pressings, Part 2

Well last time we made it through the major reissues labels and the ASD series.  Now we start off with the other pillar of EMI's golden age, the Columbia Blue and Silver SAX.  Make not mistake, despite having the same parent label, the SAX have a distinct sound, a distinctly better sound.


SAX:


Blue and Silver
aka ES1

Releases:
SAX 2252 - SAX 2525
SAX 2528 - SAX 2538 (select)
SBO (a few 10" releases with this prefix)

Years:
1958 - 1964

Engineering:
All tube recording and mastering chain. Extremely well balanced with very slight boost in midrange.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Silver"


Early Red

aka Magic Notes, ER1

Releases:
SAX 2252 - SAX 2525 (reissues)
SAX 2528 - SAX 2538 (select)
SAX 2539 - SAX 2589
SAX 5251 - SAX 5294

Years:  1964 - 1968

Engineering:
Transistor mastering chain. Some sonic abberations.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Magic" (On this label it says magic notes in the notes logo)


Late Red

aka Second Red, Magic Notes, Rectangle, ER2

Releases:
SAX 2252 - SAX 2589 (reissues)
SAX 5251 - SAX 5294 (reissues)

Years:
1969

Engineering:
Transistor mastering chain. Similar feel to Blue and Silver, but absolutely not tube with some loss of magic.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Notes" (On this label it just shows the notes with no mention of magic)

Teal and Silver

aka Green and Silver


Releases:
SCX 3251 - SCX 3275
(various popular classical releases|)

Years:
1958 - 1964

Engineering:
All tube recording and mastering chain. Extremely well balanced with very slight boost in midrange.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Silver" (note instead of the light blue background these have a light green, or Teal background. Equivalent to Blue and Silver except for recording venues in some cases, but sonically similar so we keep the name "Silver" on this blog.)




Comments So Far:
Columbia\s classical division ceased after the 1960's.  At this point, no further classical was released with the old covers, labels, etc.  Material was reissued on other EMI labels.  At this point we believe there was only one other label that may have had a similar sonic signature to the SAX and that was the UK Angel SAN material (opera and choral works).  The matrix numbers often have the typical Columbia YAX prefix.


SAN:

White Angel
aka White and Gold, White

Releases:
SAN 101 - SAN 209

Years:
1963 - 1969

Engineering:
Similar to the SAX Early Red ("Magic") pressings (i.e. potential for sonic anamolies).

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"White"





Black Angel
aka Black and Gold, Black

Releases:
SAN 210 - SAN 266

Years:
1969 - 1972

Engineering:
Discrete transistor sound similar to color postage stamp.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Black" (here is where the naming gets a little stupid as both the current following labels have a black angel.)




Yellow Angel
aka Yellow and Black, Yellow

Releases:
SAN 267 - SAN 418

Years:
1972 - 1977 (reissues until 1981)

Engineering:
Integrated circuits start appearing in mastering chain.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Yellow" (Dealers love to call this a black angel, but in the lingo this is yellow)




Large Dog
aka Big Dog

Releases:
SAN reissues

Years:
1981 and up (reissues)

Engineering:
Intergrated circuits prevail in mastering chain. Lowest noise floor.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Dog" (same label as ASD at this time)









Comments So Far:
The SAN and SLS issues are quite convoluted.  Early on, both the SAX and ASD choral operatic material was released only under SAX and ASD.  Towards the end of early ASD, some of the ASD started to be released on SLS with the Gold and Cream label.  The Columbia SAX appear to make a jump to the White Angel label before the end of the SAX Blue and Silver.  Some of these early SAN are valuable and may sport the Blue and Silver sound (more on this).  After the earlies releases, the SLS were all ASD box sets with very little operatic material.  With SLS 810 (Der Rosenkavalier), the SAX material started to be reissued under SLS, but not the SAN Angel material as that label was still issuing operatic material.  Then with SLS 901 (Cosi Fan Tute), the SAN material was released under SLS (just to confuse, as they still issued SAN into 1977 well after this).  At this point with SLS we have the black and white postage stamp issues with ASD on the label and the above yellow label for the SAN reissues.  And if that is not confusing enough, much of the SLS boxes of SAN material had the earlier labels as EMI still had a stockpile of these pressings.  So in truth, with SLS you can have the black and white stamp along with all three Angel labels above (which is not the same as US Angel!).  And then, I've also seen on occaision a few other variations in this SLS range (SLS 799 has green ring labels).

With the SLS 5000 series EMI eventually merged their box sets under SLS, but not immediately as SAN continued into 1977.  Well before this the Bohm Cosi Fan Tute got its third release as SLS 5028, supplanting SLS 901 with its angel labels, and the original SAN 103-6.   I'll note that the early SAN are intriguing for the possibility of Blue and Silver sound, but beware as that label was used until 1969 and there may be later inferior pressings with the same label.  (I'd stay away from this Cosi as my Big Dog SXLP highlights has extremely rolled off sound and I doubt even a Blue and Silver pressing would rescue this recording).

It's downhill from here when it comes to complexity.  The following CSD series features light classical material for the masses with a limited number of issues despite the gaps in numbering.


CSD:



Green and Gold
aka Green Gold, GG

Releases:
CSD 1252 - CSD 1499

Years:
1959 - 1964

Engineering:
All tube recording and mastering chain.  Similar to ASD Gold and Cream pressings.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Gold"




Black and Red
aka Black

Releases:
CSD 1252 - CSD 1499 (reissues)
CSD 1502 - CSD 1631
CSD 3500 - CSD 3700

Years:
1963 - 1972

Engineering:
Likely hybrid tube/transistor quickly transitioning to discrete transistor mastering chain.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Mini" (A Miles to Mozart original as Black is taken by the Black Angel, and Red is to confusing with all of the other Red based names.  Mini refers to the small size of the postage stamp.  Also note that though this has a ring on the label, it is not a ring pressing as it is too early.  This label must have been the basis for the design of many of the later postage stamp labels.)




Dark Green
aka DG

Releases:
CSD 1252 - CSD 1631(reissues)
CSD 3700 and up

Years:
1972 - 1980

Engineering:
Integrated circuits start appearing in mastering chain.
circuits start appearing in mastering chain.
Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Green"








Comments So Far:
Later, we'll get into the ESD Greensleeves which is a continuation of the CSD.  Next up is HQS which is a very interesting label basically featuring what appears to be material that EMI wanted to offer at a budget price including, but not restricted to chamber music (some early Beecham reissues).


HQS:



Black and Red
aka Black

Releases:
HQS 1000- HQS 1231

Years:
1965 - 1972

Engineering:
Likely hybrid tube/transistor quickly transitioning to discrete transistor mastering chain.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Mini"




Maroon

Releases:
HQS 1232- HQS 1418

Years:
1972 - 1980

Engineering:
Integrated circuits start appearing in mastering chain.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Maroon"




Maroon Color
(a color stamp just like the image to the left, but with maroon instead of red)

Releases:
HQS reissues

Years:
1980 - 1981 (reissues)

Engineering:
Intergrated circuits prevail in mastering chain.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Color Ring"



Large Dog
aka Big Dog

Releases:
HQS reissues

Years:
1981 and up (reissues)

Engineering:
Intergrated circuits prevail in mastering chain. Lowest noise floor.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Dog"









ESD:

(basically reissues of CSD material)

Greenesleeve

Releases:
ESD 7000 series

Years:
1980 - 1981

Engineering:
Intergrated circuits prevail in mastering chain.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Greenesleeve"





Large Dog
aka Big Dog

Releases:
ESD 1000000 series

Years:
1981 and up

Engineering:
Intergrated circuits prevail in mastering chain. Lowest noise floor.

Miles To Mozart Acronym:
"Dog"









Is it Over?
Well I hope so.  This should serve as a primer for discussions of the sound of various pressings.  In general with most record companies original labels sound better, so here we have a valuable resource to ensure that one gets the most valuable pressing.  With EMI, the reissue pressings are so excellent, that it is not a foregone conclusion that the original pressing will be best.  These two articles will serve as a valuable reference guide when discussing the sound of the various reissues.  Look for more and more on this subject in the upcoming months.  Only on Miles to Mozart will you find such detail.


Not Quite Over:
An erstwhile reader has pointed out the omission of Music for Pleasure (MFP) pressings which preceded Classics for Pleasure.

MFP:

MFP Stereo
(most are mono for the early 1000/2000 series. To determine if stereo, look at the corner of the cover for the box pictured beside this description.  You may not be able to see the word stereo if the picture is not high resolution in a listing, but you will be able to detect the large box in this picture.  If the LP is mono the box is half the height and loses at least the bottom half about stereo with a mono pickup.)

Releases:
MFP 1-2000s (limited stereo)
MFP 57000s* (generally stereo)

Years: 1965 - 1969, *1970 - 1973

Engineering:
Often date from golden age SAX and ASD recording range.  Have a very tube like character.

Miles To Mozart Acronym: "MFP"


More on MFP:
The Wiki on this states "The label was set up in 1965 as a joint venture between EMI, which provided the source material, and the publisher Paul Hamlyn, which handled distribution in so-called non-traditional outlets, such as W.H. Smith, the booksellers." 

Most of the classical material on this label was not recorded by EMI.  Since there are so few of these in stereo that are true ASD or SAX quality recordings I am going to maintain a stereo list right here (comment if you find additions and we can update):

MFP 57020 Mendelssohn/Schubert; Italian/Unfinished Symphony, Kletzki, Wallberg (ASD 296, 
MFP 6037 Russian Orchestral Masterpieces, Pretre (ASD 509)
MFP 6030 Berlioz*, Philharmonic Orchestra* Conducted By AndrĂ© Cluytens - Symphonie Fantastique
MFP 6038 Schumann*, Chopin*, Conducted By*, Robert Irving Philrhamonia ‎– Les Sylphides / Carnaval
MFP 2117 Beethoven Archduke Trio / David Oistrakh Trio`(SAX 2352)
MFP 2095 SAMSON FRANCOIS Liszt Piano Concertos 1 and 2 Philharmonia, Silvestri


World Record Club:
WRC records.  Some reissues of EMI material.  Made in England.
SCHURICHT BRUCKNER SYMPHONY NO.8 STEREO WRC S 4216 4217 AUDIOPHILE (ASD 602 603)
BARBIROLLI MAHLER SYMPHONY NO.9 WRC S-4300/1 1B/4G/3 AUDIOPHILE (HMV ASD 596 597)
JOSEF KRIPS SCHUMANN SYMPHONY 1 & 4 WRC S-4050 1M/1M (DECCA SXL 2223)