_Composers – Albeniz

Albeniz / Turina – Iberia / Danzas Fantasticas

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this reissue pressing is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other Iberia you’ve heard, especially if what you own is the Speakers Corner Decca (which is actually not a bad record)
  • Here you will find the huge hall, correct string tone, and spacious, open sound that are traits common to all the best vintage orchestral pressings
  • Listen to the plucked basses – clear, not smeary, with no sacrifice in richness. Take it from us, the guys that play classical recordings by the score, this is hard for a record to do!
  • Ernst Ansermet conducted some of the best sounding records ever made — here are some of the ones we’ve reviewed
  • We don’t have any problem recommending a Budget Reissue pressing such as this one, not when it has this kind of audiophile sound. In fact, some of them are so good that, even up against the best vintage pressings, they actually win the shootout

The sound of this copy is so transparent, undistorted, three-dimensional and REAL, without any sacrifice in solidity, richness or Tubey Magic, that we knew we had a real winner on our hands as soon as the needle hit the groove.

We were impressed with the fact that it excelled in so many areas of reproduction. The illusion of disappearing speakers is one of the more attractive aspects of the sound here, pulling the listener into the space of the concert hall in an especially engrossing way.

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Albeniz / Falla / Granados / Spain / Reiner

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)

Spain has been an audiophile favorite for a very long time. Everybody should know it by now, what with both Chesky and Classic Records having remastered it in the ’90s, dismally of course, as neither of these companies showed the slightest sense that they understood how lackluster, if not downright awful, the resulting products of their efforts turned out to be.

No doubt Analogue Productions will see fit to ruin the recording the way they ruined Scheherazade.

This has never been one of the best Living Stereo titles in our experience. The highest grade I would give it would probably be a B.

“Our experience” is the key phrase in the above sentence. I can’t say there aren’t amazing sounding pressings of the album, it’s simply the case that we have never played one.

If I saw one for cheap I would of course pick it up, but in the modern world of records, that is very unlikely indeed.

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Albeniz / Suite Espanola – How Do the Remastered Pressings Sound?

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

In 2011 we made the (usually pointless) effort to compare our London pressing to the 180 gram Speakers Corner reissue which we were carrying at the time. We noted simply that it “was a joke next to this copy.”

I wish I could tell you in what way the Heavy Vinyl pressing was a joke — we try to be very specific about the shortcomings of these records, which is why we publish our notes for some of them — but the old notes are long gone.

Naturally we don’t have the reissue to play this time around. Still, we are confident that the results of any comparison would be the same.

Mark Lehman in the Absolute Sound gave the ORG Heavy Vinyl remastering Five Stars, having this to say about the sound:

ORG’s 45rpm remastering is terrific (as indeed are all of the ORG vinyl reissues I’ve heard). Comparison with the late- 60s London LP on which the Suite first appeared reveals sharpened and clarified attacks and articulations, more tightly focused individual strands, fuller and warmer string choirs, more resonant brass, more pillowy air around flutes, clarinets, and oboes, and more nuance and opulence in the orchestral blends. The total effect is to make Albeniz’s composition even more sweeping, rhapsodic, richly hued, evocative, and involving—and that’s saying something, considering how good the sonics are on this recording’s first incarnation.

If only it were true!

We readily admit we have never played the ORG pressing and have no plans to, but when has a Heavy Vinyl pressing ever had any of the qualities described above, let alone in such abundance?

Never in our experience, and our experience extends to hundreds and hundreds of them.

Enough about records we’ve never played. Let’s discuss some of the pressings of this very recording — a favorite of ours, for which we have done a number of shootouts — that we actually have played

The Super Analogue remaster from the ’90s was awful. I would give it an F if I were grading it today.

The Speakers Corner pressing earned a B grade from us, which makes it one of the better releases on that label.

One or two out of ten would rate a B I would guess. I don’t know of any record of theirs that rates a grade higher than B. Using letter grades, our grading system of White Hot, Super Hot and Hot would translate to something like A Plus, A and A Minus. Which means that there is no Heavy Vinyl pressing, from any era, on any label, that should be able to beat any Hot Stamper pressing on our site, and we back that up with a 100% Money Back Guarantee.

The only real competition to our Hot Stamper is going to be an original London.

As always we guarantee our pressing will beat anything you have ever heard, including the ORG, the Super Analogue, the Speakers Corner, or whatever else you may have — or your money back.

This is a guarantee that, to our knowledge, no one else in the record business can or will make.

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Albeniz / Suite Espanola / De Burgos – Such a Dynamic Recording

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

  • With two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard Suite Espanola sound remotely as good as it does on this amazing London pressing
  • The orchestral power on display is positively breathtaking – few recordings we know of are this DYNAMIC and EXCITING
  • Wilkie’s Decca Tree recording is overflowing with the kind of clear, spacious, realistic sound that can only be found on the best vintage vinyl LPs
  • Performances and sound like no other – De Burgos’s Suite Espanola is practically in a league of its own

Wow, is this record ever DYNAMIC! I would put it right up there with the most dynamic recordings we have played over the course of the last twenty five years. It also has tons of DEPTH. The brass is at the far back of the stage, just exactly where they would be placed in the concert hall, which greatly adds to the realism of the recording.

Note that careful VTA adjustment for a record with this kind of dynamic energy is a must. Having your front end carefully calibrated to this record is the only way to guarantee there is no distortion or shrillness in even the loudest passages.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Clear castanets.

Big bass drum thwacks.

Crescendos that build to intense climaxes.

We Was Wrong (Already?)

The last time we did this shootout we noted:

The strings may not be quite as sweet as the best earlier Londons, but the trade off is well worth it when you hear a record with this kind of LIFE and so little distortion. Rich strings (or as rich as they can be in 1969, a good ten years after the amazingly Tubey Magical recordings of the ’50s).

This time around we heard plenty of Tubey Magic on our Shootout Winning pressing. Did we find a hotter one than last time? Are we doing a better job of bringing out that quality during playback?  Would this pressing hold its own against another recording made in Kingsway Hall a decade earlier?

Yes. No. Maybe? Who really knows?

We will leave it to the lucky customer who ends up with this killer copy to tell us. (more…)

Albeniz / Turina – Iberia / Danzas Fantasticas – Another Knockout Recording Conducted by Ernst Ansermet

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

  • We have some good sounding reissues with condition issues, but they do not win shootouts the way the right originals do
  • A huge hall, correct string tone, spacious and open as practically any orchestral recording you can find
  • Listen to the plucked basses – clear, not smeary, with no sacrifice in richness. Take it from us, the guys that play classical recordings by the score, this is hard for a record to do!
  • Ernst Ansermet conducted some of the best sounding records ever made — here are some of the ones we’ve reviewed

The sound of this copy is so transparent, undistorted, three-dimensional and REAL, without any sacrifice in solidity, richness or Tubey Magic, that we knew we had a real winner on our hands as soon as the needle hit the groove.

We were impressed with the fact that it excelled in so many areas of reproduction. The illusion of disappearing speakers is one of the more attractive aspects of the sound here, pulling the listener into the space of the concert hall in an especially engrossing way.

Victoria Hall

These sessions were recorded in Geneva’s glorious Victoria Hall. Released in 1960, CS 6194 is yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.

The gorgeous hall the Suisse Romande recorded in was possibly the best recording venue of its day, perhaps of all time. More amazing sounding recordings were made there than in any other hall we know of. There is a solidity and richness to the sound that goes beyond all the other recordings we have played, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least.

It’s as wide, deep and three-dimensional as any, which is of course all to the good, but what makes the sound of these recordings so special is the weight and power of the brass, combined with timbral accuracy of the instruments in every section.

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Arnold et al. / Guitar Concertos / Williams – Superb Sound from Columbia in 1977

More Vintage Hot Stamper Pressings on Columbia

More Classical ‘Sleeper” Recordings with Demo Disc Sound

This Columbia record from 1977 has GLORIOUS Demo Disc Quality sound on its White Hot side one, rivaling the very best orchestral guitar recordings by the likes of Rodrigo, Falla and Albeniz on Golden Age London vinyl we have ever heard.

If I could have only one guitar concerto recording in my collection, there’s a very good chance I would choose this one — that’s of course assuming I could have a copy that sounds as good as this one does on side one. It’s spacious and open and three-dimensional in a way that few classical recordings we play are, and we an awful lot of top quality classical records. 

We would love to find some nice London guitar concerto records to offer our customers, but these days such records are very hard to find and often too expensive for us to buy when we do.

We found this one, however, and although it may not be from the Golden Age or on London, it sounds to these ears every bit as good as any guitar concerto record I can remember hearing from that era or that label.

And the music is sublime. I heard this piece at a customer’s home in a very large room with a high ceiling, the speakers pulled well out from the walls. The speakers disappeared, leaving sound that was nothing less than glorious, as big as the room and as natural as any I had heard up until that time. That was about ten years ago. I’ve lusted for a huge dedicated room ever since.

It took us many years to find enough copies of the album to do a shootout. This is the only one with a White Hot side one. It’s by far the best on that side. (more…)

Chopin / Fantasy-Impromptu – Entremont

More of the music of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • A superb Columbia Masterworks pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Performed with consummate skill and deep feeling by the legendary Philippe Entremont
  • Side one of this copy blew our minds with its Nearly White Hot Stamper sound – musically and sonically, it is nothing short of amazing.
  • A true undiscovered gem – who knew Columbia could record a piano this well?

The subtitle of the album reads Philippe Entremont Plays Best-Loved Piano Pieces. After hearing this one as well as another exceptionally good sounding copy, we would like to amend that to Philippe Entremont Plays the Hell Out of These Best-Loved Piano Pieces.

Side one of this copy blew our minds with its Nearly White Hot Stamper sound. Musically and sonically this record is nothing short of amazing. Who knew Columbia could record a piano this well? You could play fifty vintage piano recordings and not find one as good as this!

Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Debussy, Gershwin — these shorter pieces and excerpts were composed by those with the greatest gift for melody, men who have produced works that stand the test of time, enchanting audiences over the centuries with works of great beauty and charm.

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Albeniz / Suite Espanola / De Burgos – Speakers Corner Reviewed

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

Sonic Grade: B

Years ago we wrote the following review.

Not sure we would still find the record as good sounding as we did back then, in the ’90s, so take it for what it’s worth. If you can pick one up for cheap, it’s probably a good record for the price.

“One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas! Excellent sound and lovely music. This pressing also sounds much better than the Super Analogue pressing of the same music.

When you get the right original pressing — London or Decca — they’re even better, but they sure are hard to find on quiet vinyl.”

That last part we definitely agree with.


Albeniz / Iberia from 1960 – Amazing on the Original and the Right Reissues Too

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More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

James Walker was the producer, Roy Wallace the engineer for these sessions from May of 1960 in Geneva’s glorious Victoria Hall. It’s yet another remarkable Demo Disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the ’70s. (We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 30+ years ago, not the bad modern mastering of today.)

The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on both of these better than Super Hot sides.

The sound of this copy is so transparent, undistorted, three-dimensional and REAL, without any sacrifice in solidity, richness or Tubey Magic, that we knew we had a real winner on our hands as soon as the needle hit the groove.

We were impressed with the fact that it excelled in so many areas of reproduction. The illusion of disappearing speakers is one of the more attractive aspects of the sound here, pulling the listener into the space of the concert hall in an especially engrossing way.

Side One – Iberia (1-4)

A huge hall, correct string tone, spacious and open as practically any orchestral recording you can find! (more…)

TAS List Thoughts on Albeniz – Where on The Super Disc List Is This Amazing Recording?

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

This commentary is from about 2008 or thereabouts.

The fact that entries such as Reiner’s Pines of Rome (woops, we sure got that wrong! We happen to love the Reiner Pines of Rome now.) make the cut, and an amazing recording such as this doesn’t, should tell you everything you need to know concerning the value of such an incomplete list. 

This is truly DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Records simply do not get any more spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet.