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Thread: Throwing The Budget Labels Out With the Bath Water?

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    Default Throwing The Budget Labels Out With the Bath Water?

    Hi all,

    Does anyone collect budget labels? Or should we turn our nose up at them/disregard them/ignore them?

    I have recordings on CD and Vinyl from what I'd class as the lower end of the spectrum, e.g.:

    Music For Pleasure/Classics For Pleasure
    EMI Fanfare
    Chevron
    Marble Arch
    Stereo Gold Award
    Senator
    ARC
    Fidelio
    Pye Golden Guinea
    Contour
    IMP Classics
    Pilz
    Tring
    Allegro
    Musicbank
    World Record Club
    Concert Hall (not sure if this actually counts as a budget label)
    Emporio.

    Only occasionally have I been disappointed with either the performance or the quality of the recording.

    Do I set my sights too low, or is there a plethora of high quality budget recordings still out there that need investigating?

    Just last night I was listening to an LP that was gifted to me by someone who is not into classical music at all. It was 'Marches from the Opera' played by The London Philharmonic Orchestra under Reinhard Linz. Recorded in Mono in 1958 and released on Marble Arch around 1965. (I am guessing it was a re-issue of something released at the time of recording, but I couldn't trace the original release).

    I was really quite surprised by how good it sounded. There are some vinyl labels which I would tend to stay away from (Arcade, K-Tel, Ronco, Pickwick), not necessarily because of the orchestras or pieces, but because the ones I have had come into my possession have by and large been poorly recorded and/or mastered, and the pressings are sometimes quite nasty - no definition, often pressed off centre, lots of surface noise, and even warped.

    But as for the ones listed at the top of the post (including those on CD), at least 90% of them have been very pleasant to listen to, which is my criteria for a 'keeper'.

    If anyone has any views or opinions on this I'd love to read them.

    Many thanks, Mark

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Dee View Post
    Hi all,

    Does anyone collect budget labels? Or should we turn our nose up at them/disregard them/ignore them?

    I have recordings on CD and Vinyl from what I'd class as the lower end of the spectrum, e.g.:

    Music For Pleasure/Classics For Pleasure
    EMI Fanfare
    Chevron
    Marble Arch
    Stereo Gold Award
    Senator
    ARC
    Fidelio
    Pye Golden Guinea
    Contour
    IMP Classics
    Pilz
    Tring
    Allegro
    Musicbank
    World Record Club
    Concert Hall (not sure if this actually counts as a budget label)
    Emporio.

    Only occasionally have I been disappointed with either the performance or the quality of the recording.

    Do I set my sights too low, or is there a plethora of high quality budget recordings still out there that need investigating?

    Just last night I was listening to an LP that was gifted to me by someone who is not into classical music at all. It was 'Marches from the Opera' played by The London Philharmonic Orchestra under Reinhard Linz. Recorded in Mono in 1958 and released on Marble Arch around 1965. (I am guessing it was a re-issue of something released at the time of recording, but I couldn't trace the original release).

    I was really quite surprised by how good it sounded. There are some vinyl labels which I would tend to stay away from (Arcade, K-Tel, Ronco, Pickwick), not necessarily because of the orchestras or pieces, but because the ones I have had come into my possession have by and large been poorly recorded and/or mastered, and the pressings are sometimes quite nasty - no definition, often pressed off centre, lots of surface noise, and even warped.

    But as for the ones listed at the top of the post (including those on CD), at least 90% of them have been very pleasant to listen to, which is my criteria for a 'keeper'.

    If anyone has any views or opinions on this I'd love to read them.

    Many thanks, Mark
    CDs:

    Brilliant Classics and Naxos can be on a par with full-price labels, of course, but it really depends on the exact recordings, an old discussion and subject it is. Full-price labels aren't a guarantee for the best content.

    Alto often has good performances, but the sound can be less satisfying.

    Membran, TIM and ArtOne has a lot of interesting, very inexpensive stuff, sound tends to historical or mono though. Often very interesting, historical performers, sometimes rare repertoire (like the 10CD box of Harald Genzmer orchestral music, in new recordings, licensed from another label).

    Pilz has its fans, some lesser known repertoire there, but the performances I've heard weren't smashing, IMO. I have kept a couple of Hindemith releases.

    Generally I don't care much about sound quality, it's qualities in the performance, or lesser known repertoire, that attract me.

    LPs:

    Allegro - generally very poor sound, sometimes faked performers, of less interest IMO. The Emperor Concerto with "Eric Silver" has some moments, but the sound is like 1945.

    World Record Club - very varying. I don't have that many or much knowledge about it. For example I have an interesting LP with Messiaen as a soloist in his "Quatuor ...".

    Pye - often fine, British standard performances with quite good sound.

    MHS, Musical heritage Society - mostly stereo, very comprehensive, encyclopedic repertoire, performances of varying interest, often good, even some early digital stuff from major labels.

    MMS - very varying performances, some decidedly poor with outdated sound, mono or fake stereo, but also a few interesting features, such as pianists Newton-Wood, Johannesen, Goldsand; violinists Odnoposoff, Kaufmann etc., conductors like Goehr, Ackermann etc. I've collected some because of the cover designers, besides for the music itself.

    VOX, Turnabout, Candide, Nonesuch - stereo sound often OK, often very interesting, encyclopedic repertoire, and often good performances of the Romantic and 20th century repertoire, less so the classical and to some extent the Baroque/early music, IMO. Candide generally tends to be very good.

    Murray Hill - like above, often the same performers, but very cheap box sets with poorer sound, and usually just standard repertoire, albeit encyclopedically covered.

    Fidelio I - dated sound, sometimes faked stereo, obscure or faked performers, an old series from the 1960s-1970s. I've tended to somewhat like some Tchaikovsky orchestral recordings by "Felix Heiss" and the "Danzig Philharmonic", still have to do research on whether they're faked ...

    Fidelio II: there's also a more modern Fidelio series with stereo recordings, releasing say John Field's complete piano concertos with O'Connor/Furst, very fine, and orchestral music by Foulds/Havergal Brian/Parry etc.- these are good and interesting things.

    Classical Excellence - stereo. Sometimes interesting, typically Austro-German repertoire, lesser known performances (conductor Horvath etc.)

    Critic's Choice - mostly acknowledged stereo recordings, often of standard repertoire, often interesting cover art.

    EDIT sorry about the many edits
    Last edited by joen_cph; Feb-23-2021 at 12:24.

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    Senior Member Malx's Avatar
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    The budget labels are like any label they have their share of excellent recordings/performances and a bunch of also rans. It wouldn't be sensible to disregard any label just because of its name, frankly some of the Naxos recordings put the so called majors to shame both in performance and recording quality.
    Just trust your ears and you won't go far wrong - treat them as your best friends, believe what they tell you.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    There are plenty of music snobs who won't touch budget labels but there's always a killer performance just around the corner to be found. Here's some examples of goid ones and crackers from some of the labels mentioned in the opening post.

    Classics for Pleasure - Mackerras / RLPO Beethoven symphony cycle, Macal Dvorak 9, Mackerras Dvorak symphonies 7-9
    Pye - Barbirolli / Halle Dvorak 8
    Contour - too many to mention
    IMP Classics - Skrowaczewski / Halle Brahms symphonies
    Pilz - Mendelssohn String Quartets (Bartholdy quartet), any Anton Nanut Beethoven or Mahler disc.
    Tring - Holst Planets (Greenberg - but that's a pseudonym, it's probably Nanut), Planets (Handley), Mahler 5 (Shipway), Mahler 1 (Simonov), etc
    Allegro - Klemperer's Beethoven 5&6 with the VSSO.
    Membran - some interesting rarer releases

    I won't even include Naxos or Brilliant Classics here as they have so many tremendous recordings and I don't consider them 'budget' in any way. Tbh, I won't discount any recording till I've heard it, regardless of cost. Don't be a snob, there's some great bargains out there hiding in ugly cd sleeves on crappy labels
    Last edited by Merl; Feb-23-2021 at 22:05.

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    Classical music sells so poorly in general that sometimes major recordings end up orphaned to repackaging almost immediately. There is no shortage of fabulous music in fabulous recordings by fabulous performers on "budget labels."

    More quixotically, sometimes orchestras you've never heard of turn out unbelievably good performances. Several I have found on Naxos by Eastern European orchestras have just blown my doors off.

    Yesterday, while researching Maurice Ravel, I found several recordings by the Georgian SIMI Festival Orchestra conducted by Nodar Tsatishvili(who?) Freaking AWESOME recordings. I assume that's the country Georgia not the US state.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoCoPilot View Post

    Yesterday, while researching Maurice Ravel, I found several recordings by the Georgian SIMI Festival Orchestra conducted by Nodar Tsatishvili(who?) Freaking AWESOME recordings. I assume that's the country Georgia not the US state.
    The problem with the eastern Europe budget labels is that there are thousands of dodgy recordings flying around (which ive alluded to on a number of threads on TC over the years). Unfortunately this means that we will never know who played on some of these recordings (eg. The recordings of Alfred Scholz). This is sadly the case in your Ravel recordings, NoCoPilot. The Georgian Simi Festival Orchestra and Nodar Tsatishvili are pseudonyms likely used to dodge contractual ties. However, its very likely that many of the Georgian Simi Festival Orchestra recordings are either Eastern European pick-up orchestras or members of the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra freelancing. The conductor could be a decent student, one of the Kakhidzes (Vakhtang or his son) or if an older recording Scholz himself. Pseudonyms and pickup orchestras are a black hole in Eastern European budget recordings, im afraid. All that matters is that you like the recording, NCP. Quite who you are listening to you may never know.
    Last edited by Merl; Feb-23-2021 at 23:19.

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    Senior Member NoCoPilot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    This is sadly the case in your Ravel recordings, NoCoPilot. The Georgian Simi Festival Orchestra and Nodar Tsatishvili are pseudonyms likely used to dodge contractual ties.
    That thought did cross my mind. However Shazam could not identify the recordings as being anybody else.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoCoPilot View Post
    That thought did cross my mind. However Shazam could not identify the recordings as being anybody else.
    Shazam nor anyone (even the actual budget labels themselves) actually know the origin of many of these recordings. They are of a kind and of mixed quality and parentage. Just enjoy them or disregard them on what you hear. Incidentally I have the cobbled together Beethoven cycle by the 'Georgian Simi Festival Orchestra'. Most of the conductors credited don't exist and the recordings are very mixed. Some are hilariously bad but a few are OK. However, considering I paid £1.52 for the 5 disc set, on Amazon, 5 years ago I don't care. I just put it with all my other LVB symphony cycles and smile as I pass it on the cd racks. Lol.
    Last edited by Merl; Feb-24-2021 at 00:46.

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    I don't doubt that what you say is probably true. Shazam couldn't confirm it, but that means nothing. As you say, I really don't give a rat's patoot who the actual orchestra is. The only part that matters is it's a great performance immaculately recorded on a bargain CD.

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    I am actually more interested in the bath water aspect. Is this already used water we are taking about here?
    I don't live in the past,
    there's no future in it.

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    I love me some Vox boxes! I used to buy more stuff on budget labels when records stores were thriving. Back in those days Naxos was budget at 4-5 dollars a CD. But now they are huge and not cheap anymore. I've never heard of most of the labels mentioned by the OP other than Pilz. I got introduced to Debussy's piano works on that label. I used to buy some LaserLight titles too.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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    I forgot about LaserLight - they also have some good recordings, too.

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    I used to discard Naxos, however I have discovered some very interesting recordings from former soviet countries also some obscure stuff you hardly find anywhere else.
    Laser Light is the one I never buy still - awful artwork and poor recording/production quality.

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    For a list of faked performers and conductors:

    https://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Budget_...d_Scholz/Lists

    Serge Tchaikov is always the one that makes me chuckle...

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    Quote Originally Posted by erki View Post
    I used to discard Naxos, however I have discovered some very interesting recordings from former soviet countries also some obscure stuff you hardly find anywhere else.
    Laser Light is the one I never buy still - awful artwork and poor recording/production quality.
    I have never understood the Naxos aversion. They have some outstanding performers. They also offer lesser know works and composers that the"major" labels won't touch. That niche has made them an industry powerhouse.

    Naxos is my go to label when I'm looking for a recording. I don't always go with them but often.

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