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No B.S  Audiophile CD recommendations  


  CD Menu • Cream • Vocals • Classical • Jazz • Asian Spanish/Latin • Northern Europe • Over Hyped • Saxophone • Folk/Country • Rock • Others


3) Classical / Opera




Recommended by F.L

To see F.L's system:



  Title: Naum Starkman - Chopin                                       Rating: 4.9 / 5

Lable: Pope Music

The now defunct record label Pope Music have even got the CD jacket printed incorrectly.  


No 2) should be Scherzo, Op 31 No. 2, not Op. 11

No 11-13) should be Three Ecossaises, Op 72, not 73.


But do not let the relative sloppiness of the printing mislead you. This is truly a remarkable recording.     Perhaps it may be more appropriate to place this title under the Cream of the Crop section.


The recording was done after midnight in the Christ Church in Bronxville, NY, with Starkman performing on a Concert Grand Bosendorfer.   The location had all the right ambience:  rough hewn stone walls, a high ceiling with carved wood beams, and a floor with solid slate.   


The result ?  Totally stunning from top to bottom.   


You can hear the natural resonance of the piano, amplified by the religious ambience of the room.  This title certain covers the entire spectrum of the frequency range, with the clattering being thunderous at times which is somewhat unique and different for a Chopin interpretation.  However, as I have stated clearly in the FAQ section, my recommendations are strictly based upon the sonic quality of the recording.  As for  Starkman's interpretation of Chopin, I would rather not make any comments and leave it to those with doctorates in music.


The only problem is finding a copy, if you ever see this in used CD stores, be sure to grab a copy before the person standing next to you steals it from you.  








Recommended by Ben.

To see his system:   





  Title: Arvo Pδrt - Tabula Rasa                                          Ben's Rating: 5 / 5

Label: BIS CD-300834

Ben's Comments:

"This is part of BIS's  30th Anniversary Edition - the music and 
performance are absolutely stunning. Arvo Pδrt 's composition has a  sense of purity that can only be experienced through the sound of music.

 This is the best Tabula Rasa version that I have heard - even better than the highly regarded ECM/Kremer disc. Sonically, even by BIS's high standard this disc stands out. Buy this disc for its sonic merits but be warned that you may soon forget your system and only listen to the music!"






Recommended by A.D Lui,

To see his system:   





Title: Espana - Chabrier, Granados/Argenta   


                                                          A.D's Rating: 3.8/5


Label: Decca Legends ASIN:B00001IVQZ


A.D Lui's comments:


"This is one of my favorite recordings.   If you system is set up properly, you can hear sounds of the instruments coming beyond the boundaries of your speakers.


Ataulfo Argenta is one of Spain's greatest conductor who unfortunately died in his forties.   This recording was done in 1957, greatly demonstrating Ataulfo's style with plenty of liveliness, and lucidity.  The LP version is ranked one of the best LPs ever issued.







Recommended by Joe, to see Joe's system:



(LP Cover)




Title: Noye’s Fludde                                                    Rating: 4.5 / 5

LP: Argo ZNF-1 Original Pressing


Genre: Stage Opera


The LP is notably better in sound quality than the CD.

The opening sequence to Noye Fludde is simply stunning.   The chorus is very difficult to present and demands the best of audio equipments.   You will also need to have your speakers positioned properly in order to present the correct sound stage.  


Track No 5 is the famous track on this CD, with thumping drums, and little kids moving around on stage, it is quite a remarkable presentation.     Approximately 5 minutes into track number 5, you will hear a wooden barrel being rolled out onto the stage, it will be very interesting for you to see if this segment can be properly presented on your system.  





Recommended by Bill L.


  Title: Gala Stradivarius Cooncert                                 Rating: 3.8/5


Available through:  http://www.nostalgiamusic.co.uk/secure/details/scd13.htm

Genre: Strings

One of the best live recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons available, with Stradivarius violins.

..... awaiting comments from Bill........








Recommended by A.D Lui,

To see his system:





Title: Gioacchino Rossini Sonate a Quattro                    Rating: 4.8 /5

Label: Philips PHCP 203578/8 (Double Disc)


Genre: Strings


Available here:  http://www.hmv.co.jp/product/detail.asp?sku=899496


This title is only available through HMV Japan.  I have been told there is a US version in a cardboard box jacket which sounds even better, but I have never seen it anywhere in North America.  A very high quality recording, and probably the best sounding Classical CD in my entire collection.    


The string instruments are close to LPs as you can get.   Very musical and with superb imaging.     The strings are smooth and full bodied, with as much texture as LPs.


Highly recommended.


I have looked all over the internet and it appears that HMV Japan link provided above is the only place online where you can find this CD. 













Recommended by A.D Lui,

To see his system:





Title: Bilder E.Ausstellung/Le Sacre                                 Rating: 4.4 / 5

           (Pictures at an Exhibition, Mussorgsky)


Label: Deutsche G (UMIS - Universal Import)
ASIN: B000001GID


CD-R duplicate Available here: https://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=142645


The original recording can sometimes be found on james p.  One of the grandest version of Pictures at an Exhibition available.   The performance is emotional, fiery and powerful.   One of the grandest interpretation of "The Great Gate of Kiev" available.













Title: Akiko Suwanai - Sarasate Carmen Fantasy            Rating: 4.1/5

          Dvorak Violin Concerto


Label: Philips 289 464 531-2

ASIN: B000056EUB


Of the many Carmen Fantasy performances, this one is my favorite.  Although it is unusual to see Dvorak and Sarasate together on one disc, Akiko's performance is clean, and mellow.   


Two other great CARMEN FANTASY performances are shown below.  But out of the three, I like Akiko Suwanai the best.



Anne Sophie Mutter, Deutsche Grammaphon                     


Itzhak Perlman, EMI Classics


Perlman's recording is a little bright sounding.  This title serves well as a test on violin presentation.







Recommended by Mr. Nang, 

To see his system:




  Title: Selections from the Miracle Makers      Rating: 4.4 / 5

        Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu Violins played by

        Elmar Oliveira


Label: Bein & Fushi

Link: http://www.beinfushi.com/store/MM_Selections.html


If you're curious to know what 15 violins with a total value of over $ 100 million dollars sound like, then you need to own this title.     Every individual performance is exceptional.   The CD is engineered by Mark Levinson & Eric Wen.   I wonder if the quality of the sound is due to the violins or the mastering skills of the producer.   One way or the other, this CD sounds superb, despite being a little "colored".











Recommended by David.

To see David’s system:




Title: Die Rohre (The Tube)                         Rating: 4.6 / 5

        Works by Boccherini, Sammartini, Scarlatti,

        Handel, Vivaldi, Biber and Corelli


Label: Tacet from Germany

Link:   http://www.tacet.de/ware/00740e.htm


Available here: www.element-acoustics.ca


It took more than a month for this CD to arrive at my door, but it was well worth the wait.   This CD was recommended to me by David Kan.   He also wrote an article on this title for the Audiotechnique Magazine.   


The production of this CD is entirely transistors free, right from the recording stage.    Everything was done with Tubes.  The presentation is musical, warm and fatique free.  















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