Massenet / Le Cid / Martinon – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Jules Massenet (1842-1912) 

Le Cid / Martinon 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

Superb Super Hot Stamper sound for Les Patineurs, and the Le Cid is just a step behind at A+ to A++. We had a copy of the famous Greeensleeves pressing for our shootout, along with a number of Londons, and this Stereo Treasury had the highest overall sonic grades of all of them. The original Blueback pressing — true, we only had the one, so take it for what it’s worth — was a complete disaster: shrill, with no top or bottom to speak of.

Both these pieces are audiophile Must Own Demonstration pieces, full of depth, ambience, and wonderfully correct instrumental timbres, especially from the woodwinds. Add explosive dynamics and deep bass and you have yourself a genuine audiophile recording.  

Side One – Les Patineurs

A++, so much richer sounding than the other copies we played. Big size and scope, good texture to the strings, and lower strings that are rich and textured in best tradition of vintage Deccas and RCAs.

Side Two – Le Cid

A+ to A++ just shy of Super Hot Stamper sound. A slightly leaner tonal balance than is heard on side one, but super clear and three-dimensional because of it, which means you hear deep into this one like you won’t believe.

The sound is lively and there is virtually no smear on any of the instruments, both rare qualities that are found on only the best Golden Age recordings (especially the lack of smear; not many vintage recordings do not have tube-induced smear to some degree).

Heavy Vinyl

Speakers Corner did a very good version of this album back in the ’90s, which we recommended highly at the time:

Finally a version of Le Cid that we can enjoy! Superb sound with a performance to match! No more suffering through the hi-fi-ish Doug Sax/ Acoustic Sounds rebutchering of the Fremaux on Klavier.

Audiophiles in droves bought into that one, apparently not noticing the overblown bass and spark-spark-sparkling top end. Thankfully we now have this Decca to demonstrate proper orchestral balance.

If your system needs boosted bass and highs keep the Klavier. If it doesn’t this Decca will allow you to forget about the sound and enjoy this lovely music.

Le Cid

I. Castillane
2. Andalouse
3. Aragonaise
4. Aubade
5. Catalane
6. Madrikrne
7. Navarraise

Jules Massenet (1842—1912) was one of the more prolific of French operatic composers, but many of his works have been forgotten or, at best, remembered only for certain excerpts. Le Cid comes into this category, for performances of the complete opera are rare, although the ballet from it still retains its hold on the affections of the public. Justly so, for the music is tuneful, vivid and exotic, almost more Spanish than that of the Spaniards themselves — or so one is persuaded on hearing it.

Meyerbeer, though born in Germany, spent much of his life in France and his music shows the influence of that environment. It is fluent, graceful and brilliant, whilst lacking, perhaps, that inner touch of genius necessary to ensure its ultimate survival. But Meyerbeer’s sparkling qualities of wit and melodiousness are happily demonstrated in Les Patineurs.

From the liner notes.