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GREAT CONDUCTORS OF THE 20TH CENTURY: Ataulfo Argenta Original recording remastered

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Product details

Disc: 1
1. Faust Symphony, movt 1 - Faust
2. Alborada Del Gracioso (Miroirs No 4) - Ravel
Disc: 2
1. Symphony No 9 In C Major D944 (The Great) - Schubert
2. Amor Brujo, El (Suite) - Manuel de Falla

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great Conductors of 20th Century = Best Reissues of the 21st 28 May 2003
By Michael Brad Richman - Published on
Format: Audio CD
It's sad that the "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" reissue series has not gotten more notice on Amazon and in other places, because it has my vote for the best reissue program thus far of the 21st Century. Drawing from the archives of all the major classical labels (EMI, Sony, BMG, DG, Decca, Philips, Supraphon, etc.), EMI and IMG Artists have assembled a wonderful series of affordable two-disc sets by the leading conductors of the last century. And unlike its counterpart, "The Great Pianists of the 20th Century," which are basically compilations of material already available on other CDs, the "Great Conductors" features rare and, for the most part, previously unreleased performances!
This particular CD, Volume 3, features the great Ataulfo Argenta, who died tragically of carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 44 in 1958. Fortunately the powers that be at Decca saw this massive talent in the making, and there are some outstanding stereo recordings to document this fact. Though only a portion of his output is currently available -- the Decca Legends collection "Espana" (see my review), Liszt Piano Concertos with Katchen (currently only an import), and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique (now out of print) are or have been on CD, while recordings of Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony and Violin Concerto, and Schubert's "Unfinished" remain unissued -- it clearly illustrates that, had he lived a long life, Argenta would undoubtedly be known today as Spain's greatest conductor. Boasting terrific performances of Schubert's 9th and Liszt's Faust Symphonies, excerpts from Falla's "El Amor Brujo," and Ravel's "Alborada del Gracioso" (one of several of Ravel Orchestral Works Argenta recorded in mono in 1956 that has remain unissued on CD), this collection is a welcome showcase of Argenta's classic, under-appreciated recordings.
Whether you are a serious collector of classical music or a beginner, the "Great Conductors of the 20th Century" has something for everyone. If the prized, rare performances previously unreleased on CD (or ever!) doesn't excite you, then use this as an opportunity to check out one of the greatest conductors ever recorded. Since stores are offering increasingly homogenized classical music sections, this conductor may not be in your collection, and that would truly be a shame.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An exceptional "Faust" and a superb "Great" 20 Mar. 2007
By L. Johan - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Apart from boasting an outstanding interpretation of de Falla's El Amor Brujo (mono recording) - probably the best ever - this twofer collects two outstanding gems from Ataúlfo Argenta's recording legacy: his 1955 recording of Liszt's "A Faust Symphony" and the his 1957 Schubert Symphony no. 9 ("The Great").

The Faust symphony, an early stereo recording, is here presented in its 1854 original version - that is, the choral ending of the Mephistopheles Finale is omitted. Liszt added that ending in 1857. (It has always appeared to me as a great anticlimax after that great finale.) Argenta's superb reading is furiously powerful, flexible though carefully molded, underscoring the dark melodic lines.

The 1957 Schubert is also excellent. Again, as in the Liszt recording, Argenta's flexible reading accentuates the romantic aspects of the work, while the rhythm remains firmly in his control. Perhaps it is not one of the greatest "Great" on record (consider Abendroth, Furtwängler, Munch and Szell for reference), but it's surely one of the most thrilling. The stereo recording is good but vintage.

Warmly recommended.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
UN MAESTRO 9 Jun. 2004
By M. Ferrer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Ataulfo Argenta is probably one the best directors ever been in Spain. Unfortunately he is not well known abroad. This is , maybe, due to the time he lived. Spain was under the dictatorship of Franco.
For a whole generation Argenta shown and introduced the great Spanish composers through his emision in the national radio broadcast. Personally I think that Falla has been always his "piéce de resistance", and this recording is a real proof of it.
I find the selection in this cd very interesting and with the bonus of Ana María Iriarte, an elegant singer.
My personal favourite is the second cd. El Amor Brujo is a wonderful masterwork. And I think is here where Argenta reveals his great quality. The orchestrations of this work are perfectly reflected in the recording. Although I miss the orquesta Nacional de España the one chosen here is a good one. Its sound is very from the fifties, but is charming anyway. Maybe a little more of eenergy would have been requested.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
One of the weaker choices in the Great Conductors series 6 Nov. 2005
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
If there was ever a conductor known for a single recording, it is Ataulfo Argenta, a Spanish maestro who died ignominiously in his forties when he decided to warm himself on a cold winter night by sitting in his car and running the engine in his garage. The recording that made him famous was Espana, an audiophile showstopper from Decca that is legendary to this day.

Nothing in this set is worthy to be called great conducting, or anywhere close until the very end. For one thing, most of the collection is taken up by the scrappy Paris Conservatory Orch. I won't run down the details of the Liszt Faust Symphony, the Schubert Ninth, or any of the other routine readings until one gets to de Falla's El Amor Brujo at the end of CD 2. It is vivid and alive, and it gave me the most enjoyment, even in 1951 mono sound (quite clear and satisfying for its day). Poor Argenta, he should have put on a sweater!
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