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Reviews are by Brian Wilson at Music
New from Beulah Extra
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What the Critics Say
" Originally released on 3 LPs in 1960, the Chalabala
is a classic. With the Supraphon 2-CD set no longer available in the
UK, and as the Beulah is at the bargain price of £7.99 from
iTunes or £7.49 from 7digital.com, this is a self-recommending reissue.
The refurbished recording has come up sounding well and there’s no
trace of the snap, crackle and pop for which Supraphon LPs were
notorious, so all that’s missing is the libretto; that can be found in
Czech with English translation here.
I’ve already praised the recording of the Overture, also available
separately – 1BX289 (see below) – and I enjoyed the complete
performance just as much. "
" There are two classic performances here – the two
works, originally released on Decca SXL2091 – and one very enjoyable
filler, all in transfers that belie their age. Various inexpensive
transfers exist of the two recordings with Argenta, but I think some of
them are actually of the earlier mono recordings with the Madrid
orchestra and I can’t imagine that any of them come close to the
quality of sound which Beulah have achieved.
The Soriano/Argenta recording of Noches
en los jardines
remains a prime recommendation even in the face of Soriano’s own later
recording with the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra and Frühbeck de
Much as one might bemoan the fact that Rodrigo’s other concertos seldom
get a look in, it must be admitted that the Concierto de Aranjuez
is music with a very strong appeal. Narciso Yepes, who recorded it
several times, has always been one of its prime advocates and this
recording can stand its own against the later DG versions, at least two
of which remain available on CD. Yepes’ guitar seems to fill the whole
soundstage in a larger-than-life fashion but that’s my only reservation
about any of the transfers, and it’s hardly a fault that can be laid at
Beulah’s door. "
" This is tailor-made for those of us who remember
Reginald Dixon at the consoles of their mighty beasts as they rose out
of the floor. There are no visuals here, of course, but an audio record
of a master of his trade who recorded for the Vogue label – I think
there were some later stereo LPs, too. This Wurlitzer, in San
Francisco, was more powerful than any Hammond instrument. It’s all
unashamedly showy, complete with fairground-organ additional noises at
times and lots of smoochy portamento, but it’s very enjoyable and the
recordings have come up very well indeed. I predict a best-seller and
not just among those of a certain age. "
"Light Music Recording of the Month"
"This release, taking its title from the opening
track, is self-recommending to fans of dance band music – and I’m one
of them, despite my predilection for more serious fare such as
renaissance polyphony. I enjoyed this very much and the transfers belie
the age of the recordings; one or two tracks betray a degree of surface
presence rather than hiss or crackle and even these are not
off-putting, while the rest are almost completely noise-free. This
album is choc-a-bloc with foot-tapping music well performed and in
sound that is still well worth hearing.
The Benny Carter tracks, made when he was working in England with Henry
Hall, cost over £1 when they were reissued on the budget Decca Ace of
Clubs label in 1964 – that’s at least £25 in today’s values. Add the
George Shearing half of the album – even in an era when the likes of
Carroll Gibbons, Joe Loss, Ambrose and Billy Cotton were at the height
of their powers his recordings were sought after – and you see what a
bargain the Beulah reissue is."
" Beulah have already embarked on an attractive
series of albums of
reissues of classic performances of English music. On the basis of this
first volume of a similar French venture, the omens are already looking
good. The stand-out on volume 1 is Solti’s L’Apprenti
sorcier. The recording was hailed on its appearance as ‘excellent light
music to show off your new stereo equipment to good advantage’
and it still sounds very well indeed in this transfer. Fistoulari’s Mignon
Overture, from 1945, could hardly be expected to sound as well but in
Beulah’s transfer it hardly shows its age and the performance was well
By the time that Moura Lympany’s Saint-Saëns was reissued in bogus
stereo on Decca Eclipse in 1974, it sounded badly dated. About the
quality of the solo performance and the orchestral support, however,
there has never been any doubt and Olympia produced a much better CD
transfer in 1989 – now sunk with the rest of that label. I didn’t hear
that Olympia version but I doubt if it bettered this Beulah reissue
which has tidied the sound up to a degree that we can appreciate the
Lympany’s performance. It’s still a bit thin, but much more than
tolerable. Even if you have a more recent recording this Beulah reissue
is well worth the small outlay.
Beulah give the date 1958 for the Munch La Mer but the penultimate time
that it was reissued, on an RCA Papillon CD, the date given was
December 1956. No matter – it, too, has come up well and the
performance, if not quite in the same league as the Lympany and Solti
items, is well worth preserving."
" There are plenty of fine vintage and modern
recordings – Rubinstein (RCA or Naxos Historical, not including the Op.
posth.; Katin includes one of these) and Hewitt (Hyperion, with
Impromptus) to name one of each – but Peter Katin’s interpretations
equal the best of them in making music to which I don’t listen very
often sound attractive.
The recording has transferred well: the piano tone is secure and there
is only a very occasional reminder of LP surface blemish. The original
review of Nos.11-20 mentioned a slight degree of tonal insecurity but I
heard no trace of that on the Beulah transfer."
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