Falla / Ritual Fire Dance – Entremont

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More Classical “Sleeper” Recordings We’ve Discovered with Demo Disc Sound

  • Philippe Entremont’s delightful 1967 release returns with superb sound on both sides
  • It’s solid and weighty like no other, with less smear, situated in the biggest space, with the most energetic performances
  • These sides are big, full-bodied, clean and clear, with a wonderfully present piano and plenty of 3-D space around it
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – here’s all the proof anyone with two working ears and top quality audiophile equipment needs to make the case
  • Dynamic, huge, lively, transparent and natural – with a record this good, your ability to suspend disbelief requires practically no effort at all

This vintage Columbia 360 Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” Philippe Entremont, and feeling as if you are listening to him play live, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the Best Sides of Ritual Fire Dance Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1967
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

The Piano

Pay special attention to the piano. On the transparent and tonally correct copies it is clear and full-bodied. The piano in a solo recording such as this often makes for a good test. How easily can you see it and how much like a real piano does it sound? 

If you have full-range speakers some of the qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano are WEIGHT and WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead, the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we’ve all heard countless times in piano bars and restaurants.

In other words like a real piano, not a recorded one. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn-out stampers and bad vinyl and five-gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies. But some copies survive all such hazards. They manage to reproduce the full spectrum of the piano’s wide range on vintage vinyl, showing us the kind of sound we simply cannot find any other way.

What We’re Listening For on Ritual Fire Dance

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.


Side One

Falla: Ritual Fire Dance
Brahms: Waltz No. 15 In A-Flat Major
Tchaikovsky: Humoresque
Tchaikovsky Barcarolle
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody

Side Two

Mozart: Rondo Alla Turca From Sonata No. 11 In A Major
Schubert-Leschetizky: Moment Musical In F Minor
Liszt: Concert Etude No. 3 In D-Flat Major (Un Sospiro)
Beethoven: Fur Elise
Debussy: Arabesque No. 1
Liszt: Gnomenreigen

Allmusic on Philippe Entremont

Pianist Philippe Entremont has had an unusually long and impressive career, beginning in the early 1950s and remaining active well into the first quarter of the 21st century. Entremont is versatile in multiple ways: his repertory is wide, and he has worked extensively as a conductor.

Entremont was born in Reims, France, on June 7, 1934. His parents were both musical; his father was a conductor at the Strasbourg Opera, and his mother a pianist who gave him lessons. Showing talent, Entremont was admitted to the Paris Conservatory in 1944, where he won the school’s top prizes in piano, solfège, and chamber music. Entremont made his formal debut in Barcelona in 1951, and was soon touring various European countries. On January 5, 1953, he made his U.S. debut with the National Orchestral Association, on that occasion under the baton of Léon Barzin. Through the 1950s and 1960s, Entremont appeared in nearly every major classical music venue in the world. He also played in chamber groups, often with flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal. At the start, Entremont was associated with the music of neoclassic composers such as Milhaud and Stravinsky, as well as their predecessor, Saint-Saëns. He also often played Mozart and Beethoven, and as his career developed, he began to program major Romantic masterpieces. Entremont has continued a vigorous concert career into old age. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, he participated in the so-called “Piano Extravaganza of the Century” as one of ten internationally renowned players.

Entremont focused on a wide range of music as a conductor, an avocation he began in 1967. He served as principal conductor and music director of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra from 1976 to 2006, adding the music directorship of the New Orleans Symphony to his responsibilities between 1981 and 1986. He returned to New Orleans in 2007 as a pianist to open the orchestra’s second season after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He has also conducted the Denver (Colorado) Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre des Concerts Colonnes in Paris, and the Munich Symphony Orchestra, among other groups. He is the founder of the Santo Domingo Music Festival in the Dominican Republic.

Entremont’s recording career is vast, encompassing numerous recordings as both pianist and conductor on Sony Classical as well as a host of smaller imprints, and he has slowed only slightly as an octogenarian. In 2019, he released a new album of Beethoven piano sonatas on Solo Musica.

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