- With STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades throughout, this vintage Decca pressing of these sublime classical works could not be beat
- Powerful energy, loads of detail and texture, superb transparency and excellent clarity – the very definition of DEMO DISC sound
- Richer, fuller and more Tubey Magical than other copies, with breathy vocals and rosiny, smooth strings
- We discovered to our surprise that the right reissues can sound just as good as the best early pressings – plenty of early LPs just sound like old records, which simply means that having a clean original is no guarantee of anything in the crazy world of records
- This link will take you to more of our Favorite Orchestral Performances with Top Quality Sound
- There are about 100 orchestral recordings we’ve awarded the honor of having the Best Performances with Demo Disc Sound, and this superb LP certainly deserve a place on that list
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!).
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.
- 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)
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…)
- 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…)
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.