_Composers – Chabrier

Rimsky-Korsakov / 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.


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

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

I much prefer Ansermet’s performances on London to those of Paray on Mercury. I know of none better.

The famous Classic pressing of the Mercury is a grainy, 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.

Of course the lovely London (CS 6438) we prefer is nowhere to be found on Harry’s List, which should not be too surprising.

Most of the best records we play are exactly that — nowhere to be found on his list.

With the amp you see pictured you might be able to play Classic’s awful pressing.

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


Chabrier / Ansermet – The Best Espana on Record

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

More Orchestral Spectaculars

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

We created a special section for recordings of such 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 that we 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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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)

This White Hot EMI pressing has some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard. 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 both sides.

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.

Debussy – Prelude A L’apres-midi D’un Faune is excellent here as well – it’s a piece we rarely have on the site.

Orchestral Showpieces

Who can resist these sublime orchestral works? To quote an infamous (around here) label, they are an audiophile’s dream come true. The tabs above have extensive background information on each of the works.

The sound is clear, with wonderful depth to the stage. These recordings may just be the ideal blend of clarity and richness, with depth and spaciousness that will put to shame 98% of the classical recordings ever made.

Both sides were just more “real” sounding, BIGGER and RICHER than any other sides we played, hence the superlative grade. Clean bottom and lower mids. Zero smear. They’re so full-bodied and rich, yet clear and clean, and spread out on such a huge stage, these sides may become your go-to reference disc for Orchestral Reproduction.


London Records Takes You on A Journey Into [Potentially Very Good] Stereo Sound

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

[Written a very long time ago!]

INSANELY GOOD vintage Decca sound from 1958 — bigger, richer and more Tubey Magical than 9 out of 10 (or more!) records we’ve ever played from the pre-’60s early stereo Golden Age. How they got this one so right is beyond me. We were sorely tempted to grade it White Hot, but chose instead to err on the side of modesty and call it A++ to A+++ or better (which is practically White Hot when you think about it).

Can it be that THIS was the first stereophonic sound music lovers of the world were exposed to on LP? (Stereo tapes may have existed in 1954, but they had to wait until 1958 to be transferred to vinyl.) Could we possibly have fallen so far in only fifty years? Judging by the quality of the sound on this copy — dramatically better than others we’ve played, and quieter too — the answer can only be a resounding yes. If you like your sound BIG and LUSH, this record is guaranteed to blow your mind.

Chabrier’s Espana with Argenta gets things off to an amazing start — when have you heard it sound better?!

Capriccio Espagnol (Rimsky-Korsakov), Mozart’s Concerto Piano Concerto No. 27 and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring are included here as well, all with audiophile sound to die for.

Both Sides are KILLER

A++ to A+++, big, spacious, Tubey Magically Rich, as well as tonally Right On The Money (ROTM), the sound here is Hard To Fault (HTF) — IF one is willing to accept the euphonic colorations of the equipment used at the time. We know the sound isn’t real — one would never hear it sound this way in the concert hall — but we love it anyway!

Heavy Vinyl

Rather surprisingly there is a Heavy Vinyl import reissue of this album available, at a cost of $50, not cheap by any means and undoubtedly a pale shadow of this London Blueback LP. There is simply no chance in the world that a recording of this fidelity could be mastered and pressed properly these days — we sure haven’t heard one, and we’ve played them by the hundreds. We implore anyone who made the mistake of buying such a modern record to pick this one up and hear what they couldn’t possibly know they were missing, but is nevertheless clearly audible on this very pressing for all to enjoy. (more…)

Chabrier / Orchestral Music – Ansermet

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

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Chabrier

  • This superb Chabrier album contains our favorite Espana Rhapsody, and this copy lets you hear it with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER and exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides
  • The “Espana” rhapsody for orchestra in Nearly White Hot stamper sound here 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 Track Listing 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. (more…)

Rimsky-Korsakov / Argenta – On This Copy, Capriccio Espagnol Was Where the Action Was

More of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Rimsky-Korsakov

This London Whiteback (CS 6006) TAS List Super Disc really IS a Super Disc, with SUPERB SUPER Hot Stamper sound on both sides. It easily bested the Blueback we put up against it, and most of the pressings of Ansermet’s performance on London/Decca that we like (CS 6438).

What this album has going for it over the London/Decca with Ansermet is an out of this world Capriccio Espagnol, with the kind of orchestral color and excitement that rivals the composer’s Scheherazade and arguably exceeds it, compressing as it does its bright orchestration into fewer than 15 minutes of unalloyed brilliance.

I would argue that the sound here easily bests nine out of ten copies of LSC 2446, quite a feat when you consider what that record is selling for these days.

(Most audiophiles learn too late just how bad the average pressing of Reiner’s performance is. Take our advice, if you’re going to buy one without hearing it first, make sure you can return it. Chances are, if you’re a critical listener, you will want to. If you’re not a critical listener, feel free to buy the Classic Heavy Vinyl pressing. Although it sounds godawful to us, most audiophiles seem to like it just fine, a fact we regret to say does not reflect well on our fellow hobbyists. Or the venerable HP himself for that matter, as it made his TAS List.)

Who can resist these sublime orchestral works? To quote an infamous label, they are an audiophile’s dream come true. Click on the tabs above to read more about them.

We’ve long been of the opinion that only a small percentage of the copies of CS 6006 actually live up to the hype associated with its status on the Tas List. Our recent shootout provided more supporting evidence, as this copy was dramatically better than the other, more original, one we played.


Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet – Reviewed in 2011

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

Reviews and Commentaries for Chabrier’s Orchestral Music

This Super Hot Stamper Decca reissue pressing has superb sound on both sides, with some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard.

On both sides it is very RICH and TUBEY. Some might even say that it’s too “Tubey Magical”, but of course that’s a matter of taste. If you like the dry sterility of the modern Heavy Vinyl pressing, perhaps this is not the right record for you. Or maybe this is EXACTLY the record you need, the one that can show you what real vintage Golden Age Glorious Analog is all about. (more…)

Chabrier / Espana – Argenta – A Speakers Corner Winner

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

More Imported Pressings on Decca and London

Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

This is a Speakers Corner Decca 180 gram LP reissue of the famous Argenta performance, a recording which can sound positively amazing on the right original London, but only about 2 out of 10 copies actually do sound amazing.

And where in the world are you going to find 10 clean copies of a record that’s 60+ years old?

This pressing gets you most of the way there, on reasonably quiet vinyl, for a lot less money.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

A very good Decca and highly recommended. Performed by The London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Ataulfo Argenta. Also includes Rimsky-Korsakov’s ”Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34”, Granados’ ”Andaluza”, & Moszkowski’s ”Spanish Dances, Op. 12”.