_Composers – Chabrier

Saint-Saens / Chabrier / Danse Macabre / Espana and More

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)

  • Both sides here are BIGGER and RICHER than any other we played – they’re super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, and have all of the weight of the orchestra down low (not to mention some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard)
  • If you want a classical record to TEST your system and DEMO your system, you will have a hard time finding a better pressing than this very copy!
  • This Demo Disc Quality recording should be part of any serious Orchestral Music Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
  • There are about 150 orchestral recordings we’ve awarded the honor of offering the Best Performances with the Highest Quality Sound, and this record certainly deserve a place on that list.

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Chabrier / Orchestral Music – Ansermet

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894) 

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Chabrier

  • This vintage London pressing of the Suisse Romande‘s performance of Chabrier’s most famous compositions boasts a STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated to a superb Double Plus (A++) side two
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that even our most well-cared-for vintage classical titles have trouble playing at
  • Contains our favorite Espana Rhapsody on side one, and hearing it in Triple Plus sound is guaranteed to blow your mind
  • This spectacular Demo Disc recording is big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic – HERE is the sound we love
  • All the energy and power of Chabrier’s remarkable orchestration, thanks to the brilliant engineering of Roy Wallace
  • Ansermet’s Chabrier disc has long been a favorite of ours here at Better Records – this copy will show you why

If you want a classical record to TEST your system, if you want a classical record to DEMO your system, you will have a hard time finding a better pressing than this very copy.

Who can resist these sublime orchestral works? To quote an infamous (around here) label, they are an audiophile’s dream come true. The Tracklist tab has extensive background information on most of these works.

So clear and clean, and spread out on such a huge stage, either one or both of these sides will serve you well as your go-to reference disc for Orchestral Reproduction.

Listen for the waves of sound in Espana — only the best copies bring out the energy and power of Chabrier’s remarkable orchestration.

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Chabrier – Listen for Dry Strings

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894) 

Reviews and Commentaries for Chabrier’s Orchestral Music

On many copies the strings are somewhat dry, lacking some of the Tubey Magic heard on the better copies.

This is decidedly not our sound, although it can easily be heard on many London pressings, the kind we’ve played by the hundreds over the years.

If you have a rich sounding cartridge, perhaps with that little dip in the upper midrange that so many moving coils have these days, you will not notice this tonality issue nearly as much as we do.

Our 17Dx is ruler flat and quite unforgiving in this regard.  

It makes our shootouts much easier, but brings out the flaws in even the best pressings, exactly the job we require it to do.

We discussed the issue in a commentary entitled Hi-Fi Beats My-Fi If You Are At All Serious about Audio.

Here are some of the other records we’ve discovered that are good for testing string tone and texture.

Can we really be hearing all these things that nobody else seems to be hearing? Things like:

If audiophiles and audiophile reviewers are noticing these things on the records they review, whether it be in magazines, websites or audiophile forums, why aren’t they discussing them?

You, dear reader, know the answer to that one, since you are reading the only writer that has been criticizing these know-nothings going on three decades.

The frequency response of the 17DX is shown below. Hard to draw a line much flatter than that.

Some cartridges are known to have ridiculous response curves. Here’s one, and there are lots more like it.

Robert Brook Hears the Magic of Spain on Vinyl

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894) 

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Chabrier

One of our good customers, Robert Brook, writes a blog which he calls A GUIDE FOR THE BUDDING ANALOG AUDIOPHILE

Below is a link to the review he has written for one of our favorite records, Chabrier Orchestral Music with Ansermet (CS 6438).

He also had the famous TAS List recording of Espana to play, CS 6006 with Argenta, in order to compare the two.

We know of no other performances of Espana to compete with these two in terms of sonics. I think you will find Robert’s review of interest, a good overview of what each of the two recordings has to offer the advanced audiophile.

Chabrier’s España: Brought to LIFE with SUPER HOT Sound!

Further Reading

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Chabrier – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894) 

Reviews and Commentaries for Chabrier’s Orchestral Music

The Espana side earned our rare and coveted Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a given recording to a level we’ve never experienced before and had no idea could even exist. We estimate that about one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. You can’t get much more rare than that.

Our lengthy commentary entitled Outliers & Out-of-This-World Sound talks about how rare these kinds of pressings are and how to go about finding them.

We no longer give Four Pluses out as a matter of policy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t come across records that deserve them from time to time.

Here you will find monstrous size and dynamic power, thanks to the brilliant Decca engineering of Roy Wallace. Without a doubt the most spectacular sound we’ve ever heard from CS 6438.

This Beyond White Hot Stamper London pressing has some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we know of. Man, this copy sure has it going on: it’s super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, with all of the weight of the orchestra down low on side one which is very, very hard to come by on this record!

And all that weight and energy down low is what really makes Espana magical. You won’t believe the sound!  (more…)

Saint-Saens – The Best Danse Macabre on Record

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

More of the music of Paul Dukas (1865-1935)

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)

Saint-Saens’ symphonic poem, Danse Macabre, the second piece on the second side, is the heart of the album and its raison d’être for us. This is where the real fireworks can be found, although that’s not really fair as there are fireworks aplenty on both sides.

What we have here is the best Danse Macabre we have ever played.

We have always been fans of Gibson’s performance on the legendary Witches’ Brew. As good as that recording may be, this one is clearly superior in practically every way — it’s bigger, clearer, richer, more resolving, more spacious, more real and, to my surprise, more EXCITING and involving.

If you own a copy of LSC 2225, hopefully not the awful Classic Heavy Vinyl pressing, you need to hear what Fremaux and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra have accomplished on this wonderful 70s EMI.

Audiophiles (especially those of us with large dynamic speakers) have always been drawn to the biggest and most exciting orchestral spectaculars, and we have plenty on the site at all times to satisfy the need to hear these kinds of records at their properly-mastered, properly-pressed best.

Why spend money on another underperforming modern reissue that you will end up rarely playing when much more powerful and involving sound can be found on our site, sound so good it has the potential to change your life.

Four Exceptional Orchestral Showpieces

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Dukas)

This piece opens the side. There is depth and richness to beat the band, as well as clarity and tonal correctness that let you forget the recording and just enjoy the music.

A superb performance as well, as good as any we know of. And the sound is the equal of the best recordings we’ve played.

Espana. Rhapsody For Orchestra (Chabrier)

As good as Fremaux is, I think the Ansermet (CS 6438) might still have the edge, but both are so good that it might just come down to a matter of taste. You cannot go wrong with either.

And now we actually prefer the famous Argenta recording for Decca that’s on the TAS List, CS 6006.

Side One

Bolero (Ravel)

Comparable to our longtime favorite for sound and performance with Ansermet, we cannot say which one we would prefer without doing quite a bit more critical listening, a luxury we do not have at the moment.

We can tell you this: Turn it up and it really comes to life like LIVE MUSIC. It’s big, wide and believable.

This side one was far and away the best we played. 

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (Debussy)

Transparency, depth and space were superb on this side, allowing that “you are there” feeling to take hold in the mind. The best copies like this one had plenty of all three.

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Chabrier / Espana / Argenta – We Crown a New King of Espana

More of the music of Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894)

Hot Stamper Pressings of Orchestral Spectacular Recordings

  • This vintage London LP features Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • For the longest time we thought that Ansermet’s Espana could not be beat, but here is a performance that can go head to head with his and might even come out on top
  • The Capriccio Espagnol is easily one of the best on record – I always thought it was the best reason to own this album, but now I see that both sides are practically as good as it gets for orchestral showpieces
  • This is a spectacular recording – it’s guaranteed to put to shame any Heavy Vinyl pressing of orchestral music you own
  • 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
  • If you’re a fan of orchestral showpieces such as these, this London from 1957 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1957 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Chabrier / Espana & more / Bernstein

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894) 

Reviews and Commentaries for Chabrier’s Orchestral Music

The Chabrier side of this 360 label record has SUPER HOT STAMPER sound, which is positively SHOCKING for a Columbia recording. Dry, shrill and lean, most Columbia pressings don’t last ten seconds on our turntable these days — but this one sure did! Played it all the way through as a matter of fact. (We love Espana. Who doesn’t?)

Is it as rich and tubey magical as the best Londons, RCAs and Vanguards from the Golden Age? No, not really — that would be a bit much to expect. It does have some of that sound, and that alone is remarkable considering how few Columbia pressings have any at all. (more…)

Chabrier / Espana – We Review the Classic Records Pressing on the TAS List

An Audiophile Hall of Shame pressing and another record perfectly suited to the Stone Age Stereos of the Past.

The famous Classic pressing of the Mercury is a gritty, shrill piece of crap.

I don’t know how dull and smeary a stereo would have to be in order to play a record this phony and modern sounding and make it listenable, but I know that it would have to be very dull and very smeary, with the kind of vintage sound that might work for Classic’s Heavy Vinyl pressings but not much else.

It’s a disgrace, and the fact that it’s on the TAS Super Disc List is even more disgraceful.

I much prefer Ansermet’s performances on London to those of Paray on Mercury. I know of none better. [Not true. As of 2022 we actually prefer the famous Argenta recording for Decca that’s on the TAS List, CS 6006.]

With the amp you see pictured, you might be able to sit through Classic’s awful remastered pressing, although we certainly don’t recommend you try.

My advice is to get better equipment, the kind that will allow you to do a better job of recognizing bad records when you play them.

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Chabrier / Ansermet – The Best Espana on Record?

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)

Hot Stamper Pressings of Orchestral Spectaculars Available Now

Ansermet’s performance of Espana is still our favorite — nothing in our experience can touch it, musically or sonically.

[As of 2022, we slightly prefer the famous Argenta recording for Decca that’s on the TAS List, CS 6006. Both belong in any serious audiophile collection of orchestral music.]

We created a special section for recordings of this quality. Classical and orchestral records that we’ve auditioned and found to have the best performances with the highest quality sound can be found here.

This has been a favorite recording of ours here at Better Records for a very long time, since at least the mid-’90s or thereabouts. We’ve mentioned how much we like the sound of Londons with catalog numbers ranging from about 6400 to 6500 or so (which are simply Decca recordings from the mid-’60s), and this one (CS 6438) is one of the best reasons to hold that view.

You get some of the Tubey Magic and golden age sound from Decca’s earlier days, coupled with the clarity and freedom from compression and tube smear of their later period. In other words, this record strikes the perfect sonic balance, retaining qualities from different periods that are normally at odds with each other. Here they work together wonderfully.

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