While completing my review of the Sprout integrated amp by PS Audio in February 2015, I had a friendly chat with Mat Weisfeld, President of VPI, who mentioned that VPI Industries uses the Sprout to test their ‘Budget Reference’ but high-end entry-evel turntable, the Scout Jr.

Weisfeld was kind enough to send me a Scout Jr. on loan for review. It is ready-to-use out of the box, complete with a pre-mounted Ortofon 2M Red cartridge on a 9 inch stainless steel tonearm with gimballed/yoke bearing, a 1” thick aluminum platter and a stand-alone motor. It requires no adjusting. It weighs in at 32 pounds, retails for $1500 and is upgradable in a variety of non-trivial ways.

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The following list, in no particular order, makes a good starting point for the audiophile new vinyl wanting to build a great sounding LP collection. Not only do the LPs on this list have the very best in audiophile quality sound, but they are legendary performances, too. Please add yours in the Comments Section. Thanks.

There are arguments galore about the differences between originals and these reissues. But there is no doubt the reissues provide an amazing service to music lovers who can’t find or can’t afford good copies of the original pressings. And do yourself a favour, go for 180 or 200 gram pressings. You won’t regret it.

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Orchestras are of two minds in the summer. Players get out of town for a well deserved rest or head to chamber music festivals or larger orchestral festivals like Verbier and Aspen. The Berlin and Vienna bands have their one large public concert, Berlin in the Waldbühne and Vienna playing at the Schönbrunn Palace Park. Other orchestras such as BBC Symphony hunker down for a long summer of Proms and the Boston Symphony players get ready for 8 weeks of concerts and teaching at Tanglewood. Musical and rewarding sure, but very challenging after a long concert season.

Our Victoria players are on hiatus except for the annual Symphony Splash, where our natural theater for the show is the magnificent Victoria Inner Harbour. Palaces and forest amphitheatres are lovely, but other than Bregenz’ Opera on the Lake, nothing really compares to our magnificent Pacific Ocean arena.

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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10; Passacaglia Interlude from Act II of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk

Boston Symphony Orchestra / Andris Nelsons

DG 0289 479 5059 2 [64:50]

So, how does one approach conducting and recording the greatest symphony of the 20th Century? A strong and varied attack, I think. Attack may be too strong a word for a musical task, but faced with the daunting prospects of ‘competing’ with the Mravinksys and Karajans of this world, attack may not be strong enough. Karajan thought so much of Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony he recorded it twice, analogue and digital. Both are supreme examples of the recorded arts and are easily the benchmarks by which all are measured.

In these uber digital and streaming days, the Russians have new champions of their greatest composer. Well, one Latvian. Valery Gergiev and Vasily Petrenko, the Russians, are fine interpreters Shostakovich’s works, and Petrenko has given us a dynamite modern recording in his complete set with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on Naxos. I thought it might not be bettered for some time. It has all you need — a very good recording, a great interpretation, fine playing, with the rough and ready Shostakovich needs for a good Russian boot in the arse. If you have it and only require one recording, read no further. You’re set.

But if you are like me and ravage any new recording of the 10th ‘till the bits are sore, then read on. We have a masterpiece on our hands.

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