18 August 2013

Mono vinyl party

For those who follow my blog, I have to offer an apology for not updating it for more than 4 months. I asked myself why and I can only come up with one answer: a fiendish period of one new and arduous project, one yearly time-engulfing academic exercise, two trips and a new turntable. I haven't forgotten Bruckner during this time. In fact, apart from the first two things mentioned above, the last two endeavours are intricately interwoven with my deep interest in Bruckner. I'll leave these to future posts.

Let me start with reporting a very interesting party today: a listening session dedicated to mono LPs. It was a very pleasant morning as I could meet some good old friends. All of them are veteran classical music fans. They came over because they were interested in auditioning how these mono LPs would sound when played via a mono cartridge in general, and comparing their sound when a stereo cartridge was used in particular. In fact the 'stereo setup' in my friend's office is about 20 times more expensive than my humble 'mono setup'. The cartridge in question is the Audio Technica AT33Mono (45th Anniversary edition).

The result is stunning. The mono cartridge won our hearts overwhelmingly in all the mono records.

The listening area in my friend's office

AT33Mono (45th Anniversary edition)

You won't believe it is mono in Fricsay's Verdi Requiem recording

Vintage Bruckner recordings issued in both mono and stereo in the good old days

Here is the playing list (unless otherwise stated, all are in mono):

1) Mendelssohn violin concerto; Beethoven Romances 1&2

        Menuhin / Furtwaengler BPO/Philharmonia

        HMV ALP 1135 (Made in Gt. Britain) (Red-Gold label)

 Recorded 25-26 May 1952

2) Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6

        Mravinsky / Leningrad Philharmonic

        DGG LPM 18334 (GY3)

        Recorded June 1956

3) Verdi Requiem

        Fricsay / RIAS SO

        DGG 18155/56 LPM (GY3)

        Recorded 22-26 Sep 1953

4) Dvorak New World Symphony

        Reiner / Chicago SO

        RCA Victor Red Seal LM-2214 (Red Shaded Dog label)

        Recorded 1958

5) Mendelssohn & Tchaikovsky violin concerti

        Francescatti / Mitropoulos / NYPO

        Philips Minigroove ABL 3159 (Made in England) (First label)

        Recorded 1955

6) Bruckner Symphony No. 4

        Kertesz / LSO

        Decca LXT 6227 (Orange-Silver) (Mono) and SXL 6227 (WBg ED2) (Stereo)

        Recorded 20,21,22,25 Oct 1965

7) Bruckner Symphony No. 6

        Klemperer / The New Philharmonia

        Columbia 33CX 1943 (Semi-Circle) (Mono) and SAX 2582 (Semi-Circle) (Stereo)

        Recorded Nov 1964

8) Bruckner Symphony No. 9

        Mehta / VPO

        Decca LXT 6202 (Orange-Silver) (Mono) and SXL 6202 (WBg ED1) (Stereo)

        Recorded 3-7 May 1965 

In the comparison of mono vs stereo versions of the same recording (the Bruckner records), either version has its own merits in the Decca records. The mono versions have a more life-like timbre of the instruments while the stereo versions show their exuberance in more colourful orchestral passages. However, for the Klemperer Bruckner 6 on Columbia (EMI), the stereo version sounds much better: mellower and less rugged.

Thank you pals for a very enjoyable morning.