Classical Music Discussion



I didn’t know about Kings Row! There’s a clear influence although I enjoy listening to the Star Wars soundtrack yet I struggled getting through Kings Row when I was listening to it just now. Maybe it’s because of the dissonance of expecting the music to morph into Star Wars when it doesn’t.

I always felt like the Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme) sounds awfully similar to Holst’s Mars.


Yes I wasn’t suggesting that King’s Row was Star Wars but that stylistically it was influential especially the churning second theme as well as the opening fanfare.

If you are very familiar with William’s scores you will find many similar moments in works by Korngold and Prokofiev. There’s a track in his Cinderella ballet ( I believe #19 Gallop on Disk 2 of Pletnev’s recording) that has the basis for Duel of the Fates.


The right headphones will help with earlier DG recordings. I find the Elear and the T1.2 are good matches since they aren’t as bright as say a DT880 or even an HD600 and give more presence to the lower end–it’s there in the recordings, but a bit subdued. One could probably achieve the same result with EQ, I suppose, but I don’t mess with that.

I am a fan of historical recordings, and love finding old forgotten gems. The current fad of reissuing giant boxes of the labels’ archives for cheap cheap prices is one I embrace wholeheartedly. So much good stuff, and the recording quality was typically pretty good once you get past about 1955 (except for EMI—they stunk until well into the 1960s as far as I’m concerned, with their dogged resistance to stereo).


Yes early EMI Stereo recordings tended to be overly reverberant and to closely recorded unlike their rival Decca where early 60’s Opera recordings were wonderful and still are in their latest form. However EMI did rise to the occasion by 1970 and started really recording some of the best sounding Classical recordings in the mid 70’s. However you had to get the actual EMI pressings from England and not the US Capital Records Angel label versions which were horrible. Unfortunately the EMI period of wonderful recordings was short lived (1972 to 1979) as Digital appeared and EMI digital recordings never equaled their late analog period. Decca was the most consistent quality label from 1960 to 1980 but was also disrupted by Digital. I still feel they and EMI have yet to reclaim their past quality. It’s now past to labels such as Ondine, Pentatone, BIS, Glossa, and to some extent Chandos, Hyperion and Harmonia Mundi among others.


Ok… I have been away listening and comparing between headphone and “standard” speaker listening of classical music. I can’t put my finger on it yet but I am finding that "satisfaction: from either source-speakers or headphones- depends upon the music and the expectations I have from that listening. If I want complete isolation,then I do headphones. But,on some pieces especially big orchestral pieces,I still prefer speakes although at times headphones give me greater inner detail and I hear “more.” I’m still trying to get a handle of -same recordings- and do they sounf better on speakers or headphones. This has become a much more complicated project. Will keep on trying and give you my thoughts.


BTW…there are two references. ,One is the quality of the sound regardless of the performance either through speaker/headphone or contrasting. And then there is the issue of the quality of the performance regardless of performance. And then there is Nirvana. A fabulous performance with great sound(speaker and/or headphones).


Come on…let’s get this Classical Discussion started again. What a challenge for audio engineers and others involved in the recording chain. To be able (it may be impossible) to try to put the dynamics of an entire orchestra or even a string quartet or soloist on a recording.


Ok… I am going to start reviving/revving up this. First of all,if anyone is a classical music listener(majority of music listened to is classical) PLEASE JUST POST HERE AND SAY HELLO. It would be interesting and informative how many people here who fit that category and it would also give us a chance to say “Hello” to each other. My first project I am going to work on is comparative listening to Gustav Mahler Symphony ONE. Mahler’s work is a good place to start to look at audio “quality” and there is always can be a discussion of which recording you like or dislike. Mahler-ites are especially passionate . I will post my work in about a week. Hope to see more people here.

Constructive criticism for the site

I recently bought the complete Boulez Mahler recordings on DG. I’m not a Mahlerite (in fact, I’m only barely familiar with his work), but I’m starting to dive in now. I’ve heard good things about Boulez’ approach, and I’ve also wanted to see how DG’s digital-age recordings stack up to the classics, so this box set seems like a good place to start.


I have the entire Boulez Mahler recordings as well. I bought them as each were released. I have several of the Boulez/Mahler recordings on SACD/DSD discs. My first project is to compare sound quality and touch upon the performances that I own. It’s good that you bought the Boulez/ Mahler set. There has been positive and negative critiques of Boulez/Mahler. Some have said that they are “cool,maybe too cool.” Others have liked the more “objective” perspective that Boulez brings. IMHO,the audio qualities of the entire Boulez/Mahler recording are VERY GOOD.The other side of the spectrum are the recordings by Leonard Bernstein.Bernstein has two Mahler cyles;the first with the New York Philharmonic when he was the music director of that orchestra. Many have claimed that the Mahler "revival began with those set of recordings made in the 1960’s on Columbia(now Sony). Bernstein also recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic in the 1980’s Bernstein would be considered the direct opposite of Boulez. Bernstein put in more emotion and ,to some degree,himself into the interpretation of Mahler’s work. Again,there has been pro and con reviews of LB’s approach. BTW,the classical world/recording labels are celebrating Bernstein’s Centenary so there is a lot out there especially streaming.


I also have issues with past DG recordings,especially the Karajan/ Berlin Philharmonic. Digital glare etc.


Yup, those are the problem children for me too, especially his Beethoven symphonies. I really enjoy the interpretation (perhaps because it’s the first ones I heard), but their awfully bright/hot. Something like the LCD2C helps with that.

I find the DG Kleiber recording of Beethoven’s 5th to be quite good though.

A more modern DG recording that I’ve owned and loved for a long time is Fricsay doing Dvorak and Smetana.


Klieber’s recording of the 5th especially,and to a slightly lesser extent the 7th,has been long considered the reference recording of these works. The was recorded with The Vienna Philharmonic in 1974-75-76 in the VPO’s home concert hall,The Musikverein. The Musikverein has long been considered one of the great concert halls acoustically speaking. Did that play a role in a better-sounding recording or was it the sound engineering team to account for the fine sound? Believe it or not,the Fricsay recording was done in 1960. Fricsay died in 1963 at the age of 48. The dates that you see on Discog are some of the re-release dates. So if you like the audio qualities of Fricsay,you are listening to a recording that is almost 60 years old. Go figure!!


This is a review of the Fricsay release as Blu-ray audio only. This was a copy and paste from the website

Deutsche Grammophon’s sound at the time of this recording (in the age of Mercury Living Presence and RCA Living Stereo) was notorious among audiophiles for its relentless mediocrity. There was a reasonably detailed mid-range with minimal hall sound and virtually no information at the frequency extremes. In short, they sounded dull. That was very frustrating because of the outstanding musical value of their recordings and the quality of their artists. In that context, this Blu-ray audio disc is a minor revelation. Sure, it sounds like a souped-up Deutsche Grammophon recording, but it is far more involving because of the presence of at least some hall sound and more prominent but not particularly harsh highs. Significant bass is still missing in action.

Fricsay’s performances crackle with excitement. His highly subjective approach to a limited extent resembles Leonard Bernstein, but without ever being self-indulgent or overdone. The Moldau moves quickly in comparison to the slower tempos that are common now. Les Préludes is very exciting without being pompous or bombastic. In fact, the soft, pastoral, middle section with its solo harp and woodwinds is the high point of this performance. Fricsay’s “New World” Symphony is special. The second movement is nearly as slow as Leopold Stokowski’s interpretation (but Fricsay doesn’t meddle with the orchestration). The fourth movement is very dynamic despite a well-chosen middle-of-the-road basic tempo. In fact, Fricsay’s tempos are never excessive, but there are enough personal touches to make his ideas sound very individual. My principal problem with all of these works is the blatty, almost tinny brass that is very aggressive and penetrating, but works against the burnished warmth that would benefit Fricsay’s Romantic approach.

This Blu-ray audio disc is easily recommendable as a tribute to a great conductor, heard for the first time with sound that you will not be accustomed to in a vintage 1960 Deutsche Grammophon recording.


Ha, that makes sense. The date on Discogs sort of surprised me, but I trusted it more than my own memory.

It makes me feel somewhat good that I was able to distinguish a competent recording from a mediocre one :slight_smile:


Frank I must say that I’m pleased you started this thread. As much as I love classical music, I’ve yet been able to choose sources. There are so many of each composition. I am big on sources, since so many recordings of any genre can be crap. I look forward to what I hope will be a continuing thread, on this forum.


Angel, Nonesuch, RCA Victor Red Seal, Columbia Masterworks, Seraphim, Denon, Telarc. These are the labels that I recall being reliable and popular. DG also, but they have made excursions in the earlier days of digital that did not always work out.

What I don’t see in this list are a few of the smaller botique labels - Modern Classics for one, that released either top quality re-releases or performances recorded at universities.

Classical is a very broad term. Properly it doesn’t include Beethoven - he’s later, Romantic period. I’m not going to split hairs. Most people use it to mean any orchestral music that is not mid 20th century or later.

Some of the nicest recordings are not orchestral. Chamber music. Trios, quartets, quintets. Search the bins for some Handel. You will be rewarded.


I also find that people who work on more obscure pre-classical period music bring a passion and nerdistry [sic] to it that can yield fantastic results. For example some of the work on the below:

A good example of a baroque nerd would be Philippe Herreweghe. I really enjoy his St. Matthew’s Passion.

EDIT - I forgot to mention these Russian folk music nerds with whom my wife sang in College!


Very nice suggestions. I find the later pre-impressionist and impressionist period very listenable, Debussy in particular. While Eugene Ormandy may be a bit of a warhorse, his recording of La Mer with the Philadelphia Orchestra is worth a listen.

And for those who like the crossover of “classical” and Electronic should run, not walk to get a copy of

I got this when it first came out and am still blown away. I’m sure it’s available on formats other than vinyl.


Hi Everyone… I am working on three lengthy postings which I hope to deliver within the next 7-10 days. This is what I am working on:1) What is Classical Music. This question was pondered earlier in this thread,2) Deutsche-Gramophone sound-engineering with a focus on Herbert Von Karajan from 1960 until his death in 1989. He was the superstar of DG and there has been some commentary here already about DG sound engineering,3) Gustav Mahler Symphony One,which has been discussed here to some degree. I will also be posting a new thread to all Headphone Community members that if anyone is interested or already is part of Classical Music to join this thread/group. See all of you later… Frank