Vinyl and Digital Releases : Liszt / Sviatoslav Richter: Concertos For Piano And Orchestra Nos. 1 & 2 (Vinyl japanese and Diapason, CD diapason, Digital HDTT)

We are here in the presence of a recording of July 1961 at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall in London.

Sviatoslav Richter tackles here the works of Liszt, in particular the concertos for piano and orchestra numbers 1 and 2.

Very technical and very difficult, it takes here all the talent of Sviatoslav Richter to have an exceptional playing which answers and integrates perfectly with the orchestra.

The age of the recording does not alter the musical rendering and its dynamics.

The sound recording is by Wilma Cozart and Robert Fine and was made from June 19 to 21, 1961.

For our listening, I chose three totally different editions. An edition of the vinyl released by Analogue Seduction made from the original recording on 35 mm film. And a more recent edition, published by Diapason magazine, which is a remastered version. And an high resolution from HDTT (High Definition Tape Transfers) in 24/352.8 DXD PCM.

Four editions, three mixes and four different renderings of the same work.

The album includes the following tracks: 

  • Face A : Concerto N°1
  • Face B : Concerto N°2

You will find the following items for this album:

The tested editions are :

  • Ed1 : Liszt/Sviatoslav Richter: Concertos For Piano And Orchestra Nos. 1 & 2 vinyl full analog ref : PHS 900-000

It is a full analog quality pressing from the original tapes, made in one of the world’s most renowned factories in Pallas, Germany.

  • Ed2: “Richter joue Liszt les deux concertos pour piano” Album vinyl Diapason  ref : 88843082871 (remastered en 2012)
  • Ed3 : Richter joue Liszt les deux concertos pour piano Album CD Diapason ref : 88843082871 (remastered en 2012) 

The CD version includes 4 additional tracks “Piano Sonata D850”. These tracks are not included in the test.

  • Ed4 : Liszt/Sviatoslav Richter: Concertos For Piano And Orchestra Nos. 1 & 2 , HDTT 24/352.8 DXD PCM 

Transferred from a 15ips 2-track tape and remastred by HDTT (High Definition Tape Transfers) with the Redux remastered technic and  digitalised in  24/352.8 DXD PCM.

Measurements :

·         Dynamics

We start this test by measuring the dynamic. Dynamic represents the ability to reproduce a wide range of sounds from the softest to the loudest.

 For our 4 editions we have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR):

 Ed1Ed2Ed3Ed4
GlobalDR13DR14DR11DR13

The DRs vary globally from 11 to 14, which is a good dynamic. As a reminder, the scale goes from 0 to more 20, but the dynamics are considered good from 12, quite good between 10 and 11, and deteriorate below 10.


A low DR deviation (1 or 2) may be due to compression or a different treble level. Indeed, an increase in trebles has the effect of accentuating the perception of dynamics during listening but also during measuring.

Representation of the waveform of the first concerto (Side A of the vinyls)

The waveform representation allows to see the dynamic of a recording and also the difference in the frequency representation, especially for the presence of treble.

  • Ed1 : Liszt/Sviatoslav Richter: Concertos For Piano And Orchestra Nos. 1 & 2 vinyl full analog ref : PHS 900-000

The graph clearly shows the differences in levels and thus in dynamics for this side A which is the concerto n°1.

Waveforme Ed1 : Vinyl full analogue
  • Ed2: Richter joue Liszt les deux concertos pour piano Album vinyl Diapason  ref : 88843082871 (remastered en 2012)

The graph represents side A of the remastered edition. Compared to Ed1 (Vinyl AP), we find smaller peaks on the signal peaks, these small peaks reflect the presence of more treble. This point will be confirmed on the frequency curves.

Waveforme Ed2 : Vinyl Diapason
  • Ed3 : Richter joue Liszt les deux concertos pour piano Album CD Diapason ref : 88843082871 (remastered en 2012)

The CD is the same digital version as the vinyl Ed2. To compare with the A side of the vinyl, I have chained the tracks on the CD corresponding to the A side of the vinyl records.

Waveform Ed3 : CD Diapason

We find the same graph, but with a louder, a level that is even a bit too high because it introduces clipping on some peaks of the signal.

Zoom waveform CD Diapason Ed3
Zoom waveform Vinyl Diapason Ed2

Clipping is almost inaudible, but explains the difference in DR between remastered vinyl and CD.

  • Ed4 : Liszt/Sviatoslav Richter: Concertos For Piano And Orchestra Nos. 1 & 2 , HDTT 24/352.8 DXD PCM 

The waveform is the intermediary between Ed1 (Vinyl AP) and Ed2 (Vinyl remastered).
There is a good dynamic range with peaks in the high frequencies, but a little less pronounced than for Ed2 (Vinyl remastered).

Waveform Ed4 HDTT

Bandwidth

In addition to the dynamic, we will also study the bandwidth of records. The Bandwidth allows to check the tonal balance of the music (balance between low, medium and high sounds) and to detect treatments that may have been carried out during the recording, during the mixing, mastering or media manufacturing process. With this measurement, it is also possible to detect frequency interference problems.

  • Ed1 : Liszt/Sviatoslav Richter: Concertos For Piano And Orchestra Nos. 1 & 2 vinyl full analog ref : PHS 900-000

 The curve represents the average frequency distribution over the entire A side. The interesting features on this curve are as follows:

1.      There is a progressive decrease in frequency above 15kHz (Yellow), with a small accentuation at 15kHz which can reflect the bandwidth of the master.

2.      The level at 10 kHz is almost 3 to 5 dB lower than for the remastered versions (Green).

3.      There is a small frequency peak around 34 kHz (Red) certainly due to a parasitic electronic equipment near the recording equipment or a defect in the processing chain. Here there is no reason to worry because the interference level is very low (- 115dB). 

Bandwith Ed1 Vinyl full analogue

  • Ed2: Richter joue Liszt les deux concertos pour piano Album vinyl Diapason  ref : 88843082871 (remastered en 2012)

 This curve is similar to the previous one except above 8 kHz where the level of the curve is raised by several dB (green). This gives a clearer and more dynamic rendering of the remastered version. 

Bandwith Ed2 Vinyl Diapason
  • Ed3 : Richter joue Liszt les deux concertos pour piano Album CD Diapason ref : 88843082871 (remastered en 2012) 

We have here the same curve as the remastered vinyl (Ed 2) except for the 22 kHz cutoff which is the frequency limit of the CD (Yellow).

Bandwith Ed3 CD Diapason
  • Ed4 : Liszt/Sviatoslav Richter: Concertos For Piano And Orchestra Nos. 1 & 2 , HDTT 24/352.8 DXD PCM 

 The curve represents the average frequency distribution over the entire A side. The interesting features on this curve are as follows:

1.      There is a progressive decrease in frequency above 14kHz (Yellow), with a small accentuation at 15kHz which can reflect the bandwidth of the master.

2.      The level above 6 kHz is almost 3 to 5 dB lower than the Ed1 (Vinyl AP) (Green). With the same level at 10 kHz than Ed2 (Vinyl Remastered) and Ed3 (CD remastered).

3.      There is a small frequency peak above 40 kHz (Red) certainly due to a parasitic electronic equipment near the recording equipment or a defect in the processing chain. Here there is no reason to worry because the interference level is low (- 85dB).

Bandwith Ed4 Digital HDTT

Notation/Rating/Samples:

  • Ed1 : Liszt/Sviatoslav Richter: Concertos For Piano And Orchestra Nos. 1 & 2 vinyl full analog ref : PHS 900-000

Vinyl is a very nice pressing, the sound is very dynamic without surface noise.

The balance is different from the remastered versions, with less treble present. It’s a matter of preference, this version seems closer to the original recording.

  • Ratting :
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
Sample 1 Liszt-richter_Ed1 concerto 1 24/352*
  • Ed2 : Richter joue Liszt les deux concertos pour piano Album vinyl Diapason  ref : 88843082871 (remastered in 2012)

The remastered vinyl has a very different rendering from the Ed1 (vinyl AP), here the trebles are more present, which gives a more dynamic feeling and a greater opening of the sound stage. Very pleasant to listen to.

  • Rating :
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
Sample 1 Liszt-richter_Ed2 concerto 1 24/352*
  • Ed3: Richter joue Liszt les deux concertos pour piano Album CD Diapason  ref : 88843082871 (remastered in 2012)

The remastered CD version is similar to the remastered vinyl version. We find the same sound balance. However, the sound scene is not as open as on vinyl which is in this respect superior to the CD’s rendering.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●○○ (3/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●○○ (3/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●○○ (3.5/5)
Sample 1 Liszt-richter_Ed3 concerto 1 16/44.1*
  • Ed4 : Liszt/Sviatoslav Richter: Concertos For Piano And Orchestra Nos. 1 & 2 , HDTT 24/352.8 DXD PCM 

This remastered version is superb, it is in the same spirit as the vinyl version of the Ed2 (Vinyl remastered), with a little more presence at the lower end of the spectrum.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
Sample 1 Liszt-richter_Ed4 concerto 1 24/352*

The choice between the 4 editions is a question of preference with regard to the tonal balance. If you prefer a more precise version in the treble and dynamic, the vinyl remastred (Ed2) is for you.The remastered edition HDTT(Ed4) is the most balanced. On the other hand, if you prefer an original sound without remastering, you can choise the vinyl PHS 900-000.

*The level has been adjusted to have the same RMS level for an easier comparison.

Detail of the ratings :

  • Dynamic :
    • Significant dynamic compression, DR less than 7
    • Compression of the present dynamics, DR between 7 and 9.
    • Correct piece DR >=10
    • No dynamic compression (DR >12), dynamic rendering
    • No dynamic compression, high DR and very dynamic sound rendering
  • Bandwidth :
    • Bandwidth cut and less than 15 khz
    • Bandwidth cut at 15 khz
    • Bandwidth not conforming to the original and cut (not HD) or original but limited bandwidth (but less than 20 kHz)
    • Bandwidth conforming to the original (but not HD)
    • Bandwidth conforming to the original with HD resolution (higher than 24kHz)
  • Surface noise (only for vinyl):
    • Continuous audible noise
    • Audible surface noise except on passages with a high level of noise
    • Reduced surface noise, barely audible on low level crossings
    • Low surface noise, very good quality
    • Very low surface noise, no defects, almost inaudible on the quiet passages (exceptional disc)
  • Restitution :
    • Low quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    • Average quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    • Quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Good record.
    • High quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Very high level disc.
    • Maximum quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Exceptional disc.

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