A quick note on EMI pressing information for the uninitiated. We are working towards an in depth analysis like was done for Decca (see Resources upper right corner of all our pages). We have done EMI labels (Resources), but sadly our own ignorance of World Record Club led to their exclusion.
In short for EMI including WRC, each record has a matrix number at 6 o'clock in the "dead wax" (the area in the vinyl at the end of each side that has what is called the lead out). Every EMI LP (infact most LPs from any label) will always have the leading string of characters on the label which identifies the recording. Technically this is the matrix number. The additional numbers after matrix number are the key information (often 1 digit with EMI). Just to confuse things collectors often refer to these numbers, with or without the long string, as "matrix". This "matrix" number corresponds to an actual physical lacquer which will have a unique sound. At 9 o'clock we have the number of the metal mother and usually only a few would be made at most from the impression of a given lacquer (1 is best). At 3 o'clock we have a stamper number. These go by a similar method to Decca's BUCKINGHAM except EMI uses GRAMOPHLTD, so an A would be a third stamper made from the mother, GA would be the 13 stamper and so on. The stamper is what actually pressed the LP. The mother would look roughly like a metal LP on one side. Some audiophile companies have done one step pressings (Water Lily comes to mind) where I believe the original impression of the lacquer is used to stamp out a limited run of LPs.
On with the show!:
ASD 460 Humperdinck Hansel and Gretel, Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night's Dream. Kempe, RPO $750 (Popsike) Matrix:
2YEA 577 - 2 / 2YEA 546 - 9
WRC ST 736 Matrix:
2YEA 577 - 2 / 2YEA 546 - 10
Less the nice ASD cover, the WRC has almost the same Matrix and at $37, 1/20th the price of the ASD. The WRC with the first stamper from the second mother on side 1 matches the ASD. On side 2, the first mother from the first stamper of matrix 10, nearly matches the original.
Side 1 of course is a Gold & Cream
pressing based on the stampers and the sound leaves no doubt (Hansel & Gretel rarely recorded). Side 2 matches it with a great Midsummer. This is not your typical Concert Classic SXLP reissue sound; a 9 for performance and a 9+ for tube sound of the first order that makes me a huge World Record Club fan!
For Midsummer one can spring for the Decca or London with Maag, but the WRC more than holds its own versus this pricey competition. Strongly recommended.
2YVH 43-3 2YVH 44-1
WRC ST 763 Matrix:
2YVH 43-5 2YVH 44-3
At $15, the later mastered WRC is the only reissue of the mighty ASD at 1/30th price.
This LP sounds like a Gold & Cream. However, Dorati's performance of the Hary Janos Suite on Mercury Living Presence betters this one by a wide margin. The
sound here is a bit lean, with good textures and some congestion. On side 2, the Tchaikovsky Suite 3 may be the best tube sound version and frankly I've never heard of Gotovac until this LP and I like. Overall, a 9 for performance and 8+ for sound. Another great WRC.
For those who can't stand the up front Mercury sound, the WRC is compelling. Salvatore lists a Speakers Corner of the Hary Janos. I find Kertesz and the LSO's performance lacking enough on my Super Analogue that I cannot recommend it. I have the RFR Mercury and recommend seeking out the original FR pressing, but the RFR is good. The SACD of the Mercury recommended.
Checking in at over $500 is SAX 2517, a reissue of an Epic, Szell/Cleveland doing Schubert's Great. AQL gave this a sonic rating of 6 on this site for the original matrix:
BC 1009 A-2 BC 1009 B-2
WRC 627 dissapointingly is not the same:
BC 1009 A-3G BC 1009 B-3G
The 3G is definitely a later pressing (common to see G after mid-sixties), but given the poor sound of the original, the World Record Club reissue at $15 may sound better at 1/35th the price.
From the first note, its clear the WRC is an excellent remaster. I've been listening to a number of fine Gold label Epic Szell recordings and this does very well, slightly ameoloriating the dry Epic sound, while also losing some fine detail. A 6+ for sound, but a 9 for performance as this arguably great interpretation sounds too austere.
In the final analysis, I don't have a strong Schubert 'The Great' recommendation. I have the Speakers Corner of the Decca Boult whose bass obliterates the original pressing, but the Boult is just not a strong recording. For those who must have Szell, I'd get the original Epic if your system will pass the finest tube detail. Otherwise the WRC under review may be the one.
Realizing that my entire shipment is not in hand and that this post is long enough we'll end part 1 with SAX 2394, Samson Francois' Ravel Piano Concerto in G and Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. A recent copy of the Blue and Silver sold for $1700 with matrix:
YLX 1046 - 1 / YLX 1047 - 3
World Record Club ST 871:
YLX 1046 - 2 / YLX 1047 - 3
Almost identical, with perhaps not the best mother/stamper, the WRC at $30 and 1/60th the price is going to do well.
Sonically, side 1 delivers Blue and Silver sound with crisp dynamics. Performance 9, Sound 8+. Side 2 is simply a tour de force sonically and musically. A perfect 10. Stunning musically and sonically in every way.
There is quite a bit of competition for this recording. Decca SXL 6411 (London CS 6633) has the Left Hand Concerto and is fairly stunning. The right pressing of the Linn Recut 5001 might be very fine with Katchen and Kertesz doing the Piano Concerto in G (Decca). Michellangeli on EMI also is very strong. Shaded Dog LSC 2271 with Munch BSO is another fine one. I'd recommend the London versions of the above LP's for those on a budget and Michellangeli on the Concert Classics SXLP reissue. Get them all. For the Left Hand, the WRC is a must. The best Blue and Silver SAX I've ever heard by a wide margin.
I'll update this post eventually with listening notes for each LP. Make sure you check notify near the comments window to keep abreast of the final sonic verdicts.