J. Gordon Holt

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J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 07, 2019  |  First Published: Jul 01, 1985  |  8 comments
The main inherent advantage of the full-range electrostatic loud speaker system is that it allows a single diaphragm to embody the conflicting attributes needed for optimal performance at both extremes of the audio range. Its thin-membrane diaphragm can be made exceedingly light, for superb transient response and extended HF response, yet it can be about as large in area as desired, for extended LF response.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Feb 05, 2019  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1995  |  20 comments
It's a tense moment during a suspense thriller. A cannibalistic serial killer has escaped from a maximum-security detention unit and eluded capture for long enough to work up a healthy appetite. Two small children are playing hide-and-seek in an overgrown lot behind their home.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Jan 08, 2019  |  First Published: Nov 01, 1962  |  2 comments
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Munch, conductor
RCA Victor LSC-2608 (LP). TT: 48:40

It is easy to forget that the hi-fi movements—the "March to the Scaffold" and the "Dream of a Witches' Sabbath"—comprise barely a third of the music in the Symphonie fantastique, yet when we listen to most of the available versions of this, we can understand why the first three movements are usually passed up by the record listener. Two are slow and brooding, one is a wispy sort of waltz, and all three require a certain combination of flowing gentleness and grotesquerie that few orchestras and fewer conductors can carry off. It is in these first three movements where most readings of Berlioz' best-known work fall flat. Either they are too sweetly pastoral or too episodic and choppy, or they degenerate into unreliered dullness.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Dec 31, 2018  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1963  |  1 comments
Mahler: Symphony No.1 in D ("The Titan")
Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Bruno Walter, conductor
Columbia MS-6394 (LP). John McClure, prod. TT: 52:15

This is one of those rare combinations of a superb recording and a stunning performance. As far as I'm concerned, it is the best Mahler First that Bruno Walter committed to discs during his lifetime, including the last one that he made with the New York Philharmonic. And the fact that this recording is far superior to that accorded Walter when he conducted the New York Philharmonic does not detract one bit from my feeling about this new release.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 19, 2018  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1963  |  3 comments
Music of Edgar Varèse, Vol.2
Arcana, Déserts, Offrandes, Chanson De Là-Haut (Song From High)
Dona Precht, soprano, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Robert Craft, conductor.
Columbia Masterworks MS-6362 (LP). John McClure, Thomas Frost, prods. TT: 24:45.

In electronic music, the sounds of musical instruments, natural noise-makers and electronic signal generators are recorded on tape, modified by running them at higher- or lower-than-normal speeds and manipulating their tonal content, and then combined in rhythmic and tonal patterns to create entirely new forms of music.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Nov 13, 2018  |  First Published: Jun 01, 1964  |  1 comments
Joan Baez In Concert, Part 2
Joan Baez, vocals, guitar
Vanguard VTC-1679 (tape), VSD-2123 (LP). Maynard Solomon, prod., Reice Hamel, eng. TT: 48:00.

Well, we finally got ourselves equipped to review 4-track open-reel tapes, via a slightly modified Ampex F-44. All the tapes we have auditioned had noticeably higher hiss than the average stereo disc, but this was not loud enough to be distracting except when the tapes were reproduced at very high levels. Even then, we found the smooth, even hiss to be less objectionable than the ticks and pops from some discs played at the same level.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Oct 16, 2018  |  First Published: Aug 01, 1964  |  5 comments
Vaughan Williams: Symphony No.2 (A London Symphony)
Hallé Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli, conductor.
Vanguard Everyman, SRV-134-SD (1963 LP). Reissued in 1982 as PRT Collector GSGC 2035 (LP). Recorded by Pye (UK) in 1957.

This is undoubtedly the best London Symphony that's been committed to stereo to date, and I wouldn't be surprised if it held top place for years to come. I can find nothing to criticize about the performance, and the recording is awe-inspiring—rich, warm and natural, with some phenomenally low bass and very wide dynamic range, yet without the slightest audible trace of breakup during crescendos.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Oct 02, 2018  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1964  |  0 comments
Trio Flauto Dolce: Music at the Court of King Henry VII
Jacobean Fantasias; Kleine Geistliche Konzerte (Schutz): Elizabethan Ayres; Sonata in e (Boismortier); Domine, Dominus Noster (Campra).
Martha Bixler (recorders), Eric Leber (recorders, harpsichord), Morris Newman (recorders, bassoon), Robert White (tenor).
Posthorn Recordings (footnote) TFD-1 (LP). Jerry Bruck, eng.

This is another disc that was submitted for review on the basis of our bitter complaints in the August 1964 issue about unmusical gimmickry in commercial recordings. Like the Phoenix disc reviewed elsewhere in this issue, this is a first release. It carries a technical note to the effect that it was made with "a minimum of technical fuss and electronic gadgetry," and like the Phoenix, it sounds that way.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Sep 04, 2018  |  First Published: Oct 01, 1965  |  14 comments
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
London Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski, cond., Erich Gruenberg , solo violin.
London Phase 4 SPC-21005 (LP). Recorded September 22, 1964. Kingsway Hall, London. Marty Wargo, prod., Tony D'Amato, recording dir., Arthur Lilley, eng.

This is infuriating. Along comes the performance of Scheherazade that we've been waiting for, and the powers that be at London Records decide, God knows why, to bestow upon it the dubious blessing of Phase 4 recording. The sound is positively vast and cavernous, the bass booms, the highs scream, the harp sounds like it's 10' tall, and instruments wander back and forth across the stereo stage as if nobody had thought to tell the musicians where to sit.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Aug 07, 2018  |  First Published: May 01, 1966  |  9 comments
Music to Listen to KLH By
Excerpts from recordings by Everest and Concert-Disc.
KLH VSR-101 (LP).

Don't be misled by the title of this. It's fine for listening to KLH by, and it is also fine for listening to any other top-notch reproducer by. It is, in fact, the best, and most musical, stereo demonstration disc that's come along to date.

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