Devilish Sonics From Reference Recordings' Mephisto & Co.

Previously only available on CD, this double 45 rpm set of classical music sonic spectaculars provides both demonstration quality sound and a fun ride even for those professing to not like classical music, courtesy of a world-renowned orchestra and conductor.

Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra run through the "usual suspect"—LIszt's "Mephisto Waltz #1", Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain", Dukas's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", LIadov's "Baba Yoga" and a few other always enjoyable "war horses" made more so by the spectacular "Prof. (Keith) Johnson" recording done at Orchestra Hall back in 1997, Paul Stubblebine's mastering at 45rpm and the 200g QRP pressing.

Wide and deep sound staging, startlingly wide dynamics and lush orchestral timbres are common to most Keith Johnson recordings and particularly so to this one. The notably transparent harp glissandos at the end of the Liszt should give you "the tinkles".

Annotator Richard Freed adds a great deal of useful background on the musical choices—particularly for those not all that familiar with these familiar compositions that combine musical scare tactics with a healthy dose of good humor.

If you must, get the CD and then play it against this double 45 for your vinyl-doubting pals. Not sure if this was originally on analog tape or high resolution (176/24) digital but whatever was the source the sound is stunning (admission: first time I accidentally played it at 33 1/3 and it still sounded great!

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gMRfk6LMHn's picture

(admission: first time I accidentally played it at 33 1/3 and it still sounded great!

This brought back a great memory of a dear deceased friend of mine who bought a 12'' single of Rufus with Chaka Khan! Later he told me that Chaka Khan wasn't on the single so he was disappointed with it. A few months later I was over at his place and I saw the single sitting there, I asked him to put it on and after about 30 seconds of listening I figured it was at the wrong speed. I asked me to play it at 45 and immediately we both heard Chaka Khan singing. We both fell about the place laughing!

Michael Fremer's picture
Thanks for sharing...
Jenn's picture

Super playing and sound. One of Reference's best, I believe.

Jon's picture

Ha! That reminds me of the late 60s when my mother would put the "Teddy Bears Picnic" on the turntable (probably to stop me from annoying her). I would then reduce the speed on the Kreisler Multisonic from 33 1/3 RPM to 16 RPM. Extra fun was had by manually slowing the turnable even more by hand, though it was all a bit of a reach for a 4 year old...

Anyway, yes these RR vinyl issues are excellent. I have them all. They seem to embody the best characteristics of the vintage Telarcs but with the sort of definition we might have gotten from the older Mercuries. I am not sure I am the greatest fan of the bass drum rendition of this label which (like Telarc) seems to be overblown compared to what I hear in real life, but nonetheless all things considered they are definitely the closest recordings I have to what I hear in a concert hall.

I hope there are many more to come. I still of course buy most of the other classical vinyl reissues but I regard the RR (and the brilliant 45 RPM ORG) releases as something quite special. RR seem to be very receptive to customer feedback as well. I begged them to release the Respighi Belkis Queen of Sheba on vinyl and (co-incidentally or not) they obliged soon after.

baxsc01's picture

I bought two Reference Recording LPs, Mephisto and Company and Eiji Oue conducting Rite of Spring. I cannot listen to either due to excessive surface grit and noise. I've washed the records as soon as I got them out of their sleeves, used an anti-static carbon disk brush, cleaned the stylus, and I cannot get past the pops, grit and general background noise on either LP. I even bought a second Rite of Spring Reference Recording, and it was worse with a loud pop 4 minutes into play. I've bought a number of LPs recently, and the Reference Recording releases are by far the most noisy. In comparison, three LPs from Tacet are almost CD level quiet. I am at a loss, and filled out a contact form with Reference Recordings offering to send them my LPs for their review. As it stands, I cannot buy another record from this label given the consistently noisy pressings I have received so far.