_Conductors – Argenta

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.


Debussy / Images Pour Orchestre – Argenta

More of the music of Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

More Orchestral Spectaculars

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this London Stereo pressing
  • Both the Ansermet on London and the Munch on RCA are better recordings, but both sell for quite a bit more money than this Stereo Treasury, so if can’t see spending the kind of bread they command, here is a much more affordable alternative that is guaranteed to satisfy
  • These sides are open, airy and sweet, with a lovely extended top end and spaciousness for days
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, and for recordings of Debussy, that is quiet indeed

Argenta is the man for this music; he brings out the folky quality in the work. We much prefer Argenta’s performance to Reiner’s on LSC 2222, which was one of the early releases from Classic Records as well; poorly remastered, of course, and best avoided. The Classic may be on Harry’s TAS list — sad but true — but that certainly has no bearing on the fact that it’s not a very good record. This STS LP will show you exactly what’s missing from that Heavy Vinyl pressing.

Brilliantly performed by the L’Orchestre de La Suisse Romande under the direction of Ataulfo Argenta.

The famously huge hall The Suisse Romande recorded in immeasurably contributes to the wonderful sound to be found here and on their other recordings. The Classic of LSC 2222 with Reiner, on the other hand, is all but unlistenable on a high-resolution system. The opacity, transient smear and loss of harmonic information drives us up a wall. Who can stand that sound? All the way back in 1994, long before we had anything like the system we do now, we were disparaging the “Classic Records Sound” in our catalogs. With each passing year — nearly 30 and counting — we like it less.


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…)

Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique / Argenta

More Imported Pressings on Decca and London

More Music Conducted by Aaulfo Argenta

  • A KILLER pressing of this classical masterpiece, performed by The Paris Conservatoire Orchestra, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this original London pressing
  • The sound is clear and open and wonderfully smooth and the bottom is BIG — the tympani and lower strings are powerful and dynamic
  • You will have a hard time finding better sound in the lower registers for this work — most of the pressings we’ve played were simply too anemic to take seriously


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


Falla / Three-Cornered Hat / Argenta – This Copy Sure Was a Letdown

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

More Orchestral Spectaculars

Sonic Grade: F

This London original pressing with 1K/1K stampers was so bright, dry, and shrill I could hardly stand to listen to it for more than the half minute it took to realize it was not going to get any better. The sound is bad enough to send it right into our Hall of Shame.

The copy we had back in 2010 was a very good sounding record, or so we thought. Maybe we were wrong! You can read all about it below.

Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat is positively WONDERFUL on this copy (A++), and the Sinfonia Sevillana by Turina on side two is every bit as good! The second suite on side one is particularly lovely — check out how rich and full the sound is. Side two has a HUGE soundstage, as wide as they come. The sound is very rich and full of audiophile colors — this is the kind of record that you’re going to love playing for your audio pals!

Argenta brings the authentic Spanish flavor out in these works. Like so many audiophile reviewers over the years, you may find these performances definitive.

The strings on the first side are a bit dry to start, kind of like the sound many of you will recognize from Mercury’s classical records. Still, there’s much to like about the sound and you’ll have a very hard time finding a copy that’s any better. Most pressings do not have such an extended top end, and that quality here really brings this music to life. (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 / Espana – 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”.

Tchaikovsky / Concerto for Violin / Campoli / Argenta / LSO

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Concerto for Violin / Campoli / Argenta / LSO

  • Another Blockbuster classical recording comes to the site – a rare and amazing Blueback pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades 
  • One of the best sounding copies of the work we have ever played – the orchestra is big, rich and tubey, yet the dynamics and transparency are first rate
  • The violin here is superb, as good as we’ve heard — rich, smooth, clear, resolving
  • What sets the truly killer pressings apart is the depth, width and three-dimensional quality of the sound 

The violin here is superb, as good as we heard — rich, smooth, clear, resolving. What sets the truly killer pressings apart is the depth, width and three-dimensional quality of the sound. The Tubey Magical richness is to die for. Big space, a solid bottom, and plenty of dynamic energy are strongly in evidence throughout. Practically zero smear, maximum resolution and transparency, tremendous dynamics, a violin that is present and solid — this pressing took the sound of this recording beyond what we thought was possible.

Quick Notes for Side One

Richer and smoother when loud. Tubey and sweet. Loud passages are huge, yet clear, with no smear. HTF (Hard To Fault).

Quick Notes for Side Two

Amazing rosiny violin. 100% transparent yet so rich and tubey. Performance is tops. Deep bass too. (more…)

Falla / El Amor Brujo & El Retablo de Maese Pedro / Ansermet & Argenta – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

The famous Ansermet recording of El Retablo de Maese Pedro (Master Peter’s Puppet Show) has been mastered on this London Stereo Treasury Import LP to near PERFECTION. This is High Fidelity Audiophile Demo Disc Quality Gold, with bells, drums, voices, trumpets, strings, woodwinds and more, all sounding so real it will take your breath away. This Golden Age tape has been mastered brilliantly with “modern” mastering equipment (from the mid-’60s, not the low-rez junk they’re forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound that only the best of both worlds can offer.   (more…)