Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Vinyl's Place in the New World

Pliable has an interesting post from a Guardian article about the resurgence of vinyl records. Perhaps I spend too much time in online audiophile communities, but I've seen quite a bit about such records in the last few years. If you don't have the best system (or the record isn't out on CD), then vinyl is cheap and available. You can get great bargains on recordings that are really splendid, often paying as much - or less, if you're lucky - as you would for the CD.

I've never put a whole lot of stock in the sonic arguments for records pressed in the digital age, but I'll admit that - on a good system - excellent analog records are hard to beat (i.e., 1960s, but especially into the 1970s) for presence and warmth. In fact, having been able to do some A/B comparisons, I might say that (in some, but not all, cases) the entirely digital recording chain is soulless. Of course, in other situations, it's second to none - and a lot depends on the mastering process. Vinyl is a great option, but I tend to have some faith in modern technology. CDs engineered to sound good often do, but the quality of engineering is increasingly variable.

Also, as to this:
The extract above is from today's Guardian. And the header photo is a view into my soul. It was taken a few minutes ago and shows an LP from Deutsche Grammophon's 1973 Schoenberg, Berg and Webern orchestral set playing on my Thorens TD125. This Second Viennese School overview was played by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von Karajan, and, to my knowledge, has never made it onto CD complete, although I have the 'highlights' CD that was compiled from it in 1999.
The Berg, Schoenberg, and Webern set was matched with a Schoenberg-only disc that consisted of Pelleas und Melisande and Verklärte Nacht. It looks like the disc of the trio has gone out of print, but the Schoenberg disc seems to be where it should. They are fantastic sets, and DGG would - if they were smart, and they generally aren't - reissue the integrale. For some strange reason, Von Karajan shined in the Neue Wiener Schule material.


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