Post image for Vinyl Review: Dvorak – Symphony No. 8, Kertesz, LSO (Speakers Corner 180g)

Vinyl Review: Dvorak – Symphony No. 8, Kertesz, LSO (Speakers Corner 180g)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sound: 8.5
Pressing/Packaging: 9.6*
Value: 8.3

Original released in UK by Decca and in US by London in 1963. Catalog Number: SXL 6044 and CS 6358, respectively. Recorded: February 1963 at Kingsway Hall, London, by Arthur Lilley. Production: Ray Minshull.

Speakers Corner reissue released in 2012. 180g vinyl. Catalog Number: Decca SXL 6044. UPC: 4260019714091. MSRP: $35. Buy on

Dvorák: Symphony No. 8, Op. 88; Scherzo Capriccioso, Op. 66. London Symphony Orchestra. Istvan Kertész, conductor.


The music and performance on this release has been reviewed many times over, so I’m not going to cover that here (as per my review philosophy). Bottom line: Aside from the slightly schmaltzy strings in spots, it’s difficult to find fault with this performance. Confident and balanced. Kertész was a top interpreter of Dvorák, the LSO was in top form at this time, and the Decca recording powers were in full force for this recording.

Sound: 8.5

Recording is exceptional, although there is a bit of glare in the lower treble during loud passages. Otherwise, a natural and dynamic recording with no obvious shortcomings. I compared my mid ’70s narrow band UK London pressing (10G/7G stampers) to the Speakers Corner reissue.

The original has a lower noise floor but the soundstage is somewhat constricted. There is generally more bloom and harmonic structure. Violins are sweeter, more palpable. Upper midrange has more body, better definition. Bass is OK but sort of lumpy and round.

The Speakers Corner reissue is overall very nice. It is however slightly veiled, with more tape hiss (although cut at a lower level). It has a wider, deeper soundstage, and a much better sense of the hall. Violins can be somewhat thin, grainy, smeared, detached, and one-dimensional. Upper midrange is somewhat homogenized. Bass is significantly deeper, more articulate and textured.

Jonathan Valin recently added this Speakers Corner reissue to the new incarnation of the TAS Super LP List.

(See reference system for context on sound evaluation.)

Pressing/Packaging: 9.6*

(*) My copy is a test pressing, with generic white labels and black cover. However, pressing quality of the record is excellent. The vinyl is very flat, and is perfectly centered. Surface is quiet and free of marks of any kind.

Value: 8.3

Is the reissue worth $35 when originals are relatively plentiful and cheap on eBay? Depends on your sonic priorities (and whether you want to take a chance on condition, stamper variations, etc.). If you value soundstage and dynamic range over instrumental tone and palpability, the reissue will make you very happy. Even if you value all four of those qualities equally, the relative magnitude of the differences favors the reissue. Recommended.

Speakers Corner reissue LP on

Carl December 17, 2016 at 2:19 pm

There is another vintage edition of this recording, packaged as the London issue, but pressed by RCA Indianapolis. I had both that and the more common version pressed in England, and much preferred the RCA cut. More open and detailed; better balanced, articulate bass brighter all. It still sounds quite dynamic, though with less low frequency extension than is probably on the tape. Sound not unlike many LSCs – no surprise there. Great way to hear this fantastic performance.

Mark Wieman December 18, 2016 at 1:25 pm

VERY interesting. Didn’t know RCA pressed discs for London (and my experience with other US-pressed Londons has been dismal). RCA Indianapolis consistently has superior pressing quality, so that makes sense. I have a Mravinsky Tchaikovsky No. 5 on DGG pressed by RCA Indianapolis (“XI” instead of just “I” in runout) in the White Dog era, and it is surprisingly nice as well. Is your RCA cut a deep groove with “XI” in runout?

Carl December 21, 2016 at 8:25 pm

It has just ‘I’ in the runout. This is the only example I have seen of “London” RCA pressings, though I’m going to keep an eye out for others. Issued in 1963, this might have come around the end of the co-production agreement between RCA and Decca. Maybe someone can fill in that data.

There are many Decca productions that were issued here as RCAs, and many of those were later reissued by “London” Decca in the STS series. More recently, reissues have reverted to the RCA dress and shaded-dog branding. The Gibson Sibelius 5, Martinon Shostakovitch 1 or Monteaux Elgar Variations are good examples. I’m sure you know about that, but I will do some digging for more RCA pressed London labels.

Given how much activity there was at that time, there must be more and comparisons would be interesting. I will soon have an SP-10 to play them with, too!

Mark Wieman December 23, 2016 at 9:33 am

Excellent! Thanks for the good info. Do let me know if you find another RCA-pressed London. So strange! The Decca-produced titles originally issued on RCA are some of the greatest sounding shaded dogs, for sure (check out this website if you haven’t already: And the STS issues aren’t bad either, although I’ve done some recent listening comparisons and they rarely come close to the originals in terms of sound quality, as much as I want them to :). That Gibson Sibelius 5 is nice in nearly any edition and has some damn fine music. Congrats on the SP-10!

Susan January 7, 2017 at 10:09 am

This is one of my late father’s recordings (Arthur Lilley) He was famous and sort after for classical recordings and considering the equipment that he used in the 60’s he produced some incredible sounds.

Mark Wieman January 7, 2017 at 11:57 am

Thank you for your note, Susan! And thanks to your father for creating such a beautiful recording. He also recorded Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with Oistrakh, LSO / Horenstein, which is an extraordinary record as well. I am sure there are many others.