2014 Records To Die For

Much as we audiophiles love a good format war—nothing like a dustup over the tactility of vinyl vs the convenience of downloads—not to mention all the ever-evolving gear, the base of this pursuit is still the music. Which is why February is the month least cruel, and time again for our annual "Records To Die For."

The following choices of the venerable—and venerated—staff of this fine mag represent to them the best of their music collections. Variety and whim happily abound. And by revealing what they most like to listen to, our writers tell us who, in some ways, they are. Everyone is encouraged to [ahem] expose himself a little bit by thinking outside the box. Go ahead—confess a devotion to Black Sabbath, say something untoward about J.S. Bach, express an everlasting affection for smooth jazz. Some are more willing than others to participate in this facet of the exercise, but on the whole, our fondest hope is that this mass o' music will send you scuttling to Google—or, better yet, an actual record store (bricks and mortar, you know)—to find something you've read about and now just have to hear. It's in that spirit of being eager to share that we present Records To Die For 2014.

Note: If a recording listed here has previously been reviewed in Stereophile, whether in "Record Reviews" or in a past edition of "Records To Die For," the volume and number of the pertinent issue appear in parentheses at the end of the review. For example, a listing of "(XXXV-12)" means that a review of the recording appeared in Vol.35 No.12 (December 2012).

Lee T. Bruce's picture

You might want to space this article further away from Ken Shindo's death announcement...

wozwoz's picture

Many thanks indeed to Art Dudley for his recommendation of Johanna Martzy's unaccompanied Bach … I had not even heard of her …  her dark and intense rendition of the Chaconne  has made my day (courtesy youtube).


Re EMI SACD of Oistrakh Brahms violin concerto (John Marks) — I have found the EMI transfers to SACD generally substandard (perhaps because EMI do not go direct from analogue tape to DSD and use some convoluted process with multiple unnecessary conversions between analog / digital and analogue, or perhaps because of excessive software cleaning/de-hissing/meddling, — in any event, the Oistrakh Brahms is distorted on my system.

jimmyjames's picture

Had heard about these recordings before but did not realise I could download them.  Doing that now.  Very cool.  I always find music I need on the annual Stereophile R2D4 list.  Kudos.

Tiger Al's picture

Just say no.