_Composers – Rodrigo

Rodrigo / Concierto De Aranjuez – Another London with Dry Strings (on Some Copies)

More of the music of Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)

On some copies of this album the strings are dry, lacking the full measure of Tubey Magic we know the tape to have. This is decidedly not our sound, although we’ve heard if often enough, having played hundreds of vintage Decca and London pressings 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 17D3 is ruler flat and quite unforgiving in this regard. While it certainly makes our shootouts much easier, it does bring out the flaws in all but the best pressings — exactly the job we require it to do.

Here are some other records that are good for testing string tone and texture.

With a sonic grade of A++, the sound is glorious, with practically all of the qualities that make listening to classical music in analog so involving. The presentation is shockingly three-dimensional, with an exceptionally wide and deep stage. The orchestral sound is rich and sweet, yet the guitar is clear and immediate. Managing to balance — so effortlessly — two dissimilar elements such as these, in 1959 no less, requires an enormous amount of skill and effort. Fifty-odd years later, those of us with good turntables are profoundly thankful for their achievement, in terms of both performance and sound.

If you were only to be allowed one Guitar Concerto recording, this would probably be the one to own. You will recognize the main theme instantly; it’s the one Miles Davis appropriated for the astonishingly innovative Sketches of Spain album he did with Gil Evans which came out the following year in 1960.

Side One – Guitar Concerto: “Concerto De Aranjuez” (1939)

A++, including all the qualities we discussed above, with an especially immediate and real solo guitar.

With a bit more top end extension this side would have been White Hot. It should be noted that no Decca or London copy in our shootout had as much top end as we would have liked on the Rodrigo, a fault perhaps in the recording?

Side Two – Fantasìa Para Un Gentilhombre (1954)

A++, equally good in its own way. Rich and lush strings, but slightly veiled compared to side one. So musical and analog, although, like many concerto recordings, the guitar is much larger in the soundfield of the recording than it would be in the concert hall.

The music is reminiscent of Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances, for those of you familiar with the work (a longtime resident of the TAS List. Wish we could find them!).

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Rodrigo – Boieldieu / Harp Concertos – Speakers Corner Does a Disservice to DG

More of the music of Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)

Sonic Grade: C-

A mediocre Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl reissue.

About ten years ago [twenty by now] a Heavy Vinyl version of this album was remastered and pressed by Speakers Corner, part of their disastrous foray into the DG catalog.

This title was decent, the Beethoven Violin Concerto was okay, as was one of the Tchaikovsky Symphonies with Mravinsky (#5), but the rest were just plain awful, offering disgracefully bad sound.

Funny, I don’t recall reading any bad reviews of these albums at the time.

Oh, that’s right, these Heavy Vinyl records never get bad reviews, no matter how lifeless, opaque and unpleasant they might sound.

Except from us of course. We were writing about them back in the day and trying to sell just the better ones.

We long ago gave up on that effort as so few are really very good when you get right down to it.

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Rodrigo / Guitar Concerto / Fantasia Para Un Gentilhombre / Argenta / de Burgos

More of the music of Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)

More Classical and Orchestral Music

  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful classical guitar masterpiece 
  • The sound here is glorious, brimming with the wonderful qualities that make listening to classical music in analog on top quality equipment so involving and pleasurable
  • The sound of the orchestra is as rich and sweet as would be expected from the Decca engineers, yet the guitar is clear, present and appropriately placed at the center of the ensemble surrounding it

If you were only to be allowed one Guitar Concerto recording, the Concierto De Aranjuez would probably be the one to own. You will recognize the main theme instantly; it’s the one Miles Davis appropriated for the astonishingly innovative Sketches of Spain album he did with Gil Evans.

The second picture in this listing is the original London, CS 6046, from which the piece is taken. It is a longtime member of the TAS List, and deservedly so. (more…)

Rodrigo / Concierto Andaluz & Concierto de Aranjuez (SR 90488) – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More of the music of Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)

More TAS Super Disc Recordings

A good side one backed with a lovely side two! We shot out a stack of these recently and side two of this copy was one of the few sides that really impressed us. The sound is transparent and full of energy. Side one is pretty good but a bit crude in the louder passages.

This is a wonderful record. The performance here by the first family of guitar is legendary. More importantly, the music is delightful and belongs in any serious classical collection.

RFR-1 stampers. TAS List. What the best originals like this one give you is immediacy. The attack of the guitar is more real. Comparing this with the Golden Import shows you that some of the transients are smoothed over on that pressing.

If you’ve got the front end that can deal with the Mercury upper midrange and transient attack, the strings will sound textured and clear, not harsh or shrill. (A badly mastered version of this record would make your ears bleed.) More importantly, this copy captures the sounds of the guitars perfectly. I doubt if anybody could do it as well as Mercury. (more…)

Rodrigo – Boieldieu / Harp Concertos – Reviewed in 2011

This White Hot Stamper pressing of DG’s recording of Rodrigo’s famous concerto for harp has amazing DEMO DISC SOUND, but only on side two. The harp is clear, with no smear whatsoever, but what’s really shocking is how huge the soundstage is, and how much depth it has. While playing this side the speakers just disappeared and a huge concert hall appeared in their place! The harmonics of the harp are rendered superbly well. It’s hard to imagine one could record a harp concerto better than this. It is superb in every way.

Heavy Vinyl

About ten years ago a Heavy Vinyl version of this album was remastered and pressed by Speakers Corner, part of their disastrous foray into the DG catalog. This title was decent, the Beethoven Violin Concerto was okay, as was one of the Tchaikovsky Symphonies with Mravinsky (#5), but the rest were just plain awful, with disgracefully bad sound.

Funny, I don’t recall reading any bad reviews of these albums at the time. Oh, that’s right, these Heavy Vinyl records never get bad reviews, no matter how lifeless, opaque and shrill they might sound. Except from us of course. We were writing about them back in the day and trying to sell just the better ones. (We have since given up in that effort as so few are really very good when you get right down to it.) (more…)

Rodrigo and Falla – Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra / Argenta

  • The sound here is glorious, full of all of the qualities that make listening to classical music in analog so involving
  • The presentation is shockingly three-dimensional, with an exceptionally wide and deep stage
  • The sound of the orchestra is as rich and sweet as would be expected from the Decca engineers, yet the guitar is clear, present and appropriately placed relative to the ensemble around it
  • Managing to balance, so effortlessly it seems, these two dissimilar elements, in 1959 no less, requires an enormous amount of skill and effort
  • Fifty-odd years later, those of us with good turntables are profoundly thankful for their achievement, with respect to both performance and sound

(more…)