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CD Review

Ataúlfo Argenta

Complete Decca Recordings 1953-1957

1 Julius Katchen, piano
2 Alfredo Campoli, violin
London Symphony Orchestra/Ataúlfo Argenta
* Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris/Ataúlfo Argenta
** Suisse Romande Orchestra/Ataúlfo Argenta
Decca 475774-7 5 discs ADD
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Ataúlfo Argenta's tragic death in 1958 robbed the classical music world of its second talented young conductor in two years after the similarly prodigious Guido Cantelli died in a plane crash in 1955. This timely set comes out just before his 50th anniversary year and demonstrates the various aspects of his art and the colour he managed to bring out of orchestras.

The tour de force items such as Chabrier's 'España' and Rimsky-Korsakoff's 'Capriccio Espganol' come across quite beautifully in the stunning 1957 recordings with the London Symphony in fine fettle throughout. However a significant portion of Argenta's work was carried out in Geneva with the Orchestre de La Suisse Romande and his interpretations of Debussy's 'Images', Liszt's 'Le Preludes' and Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony are justly classics, the latter only now making its first appearance on CD.

Argenta also left some memorable recordings with the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra including a monumental 'Faust' Symphony which ranks as one of the best available. Berlioz's 'Fantastique' and the Albéniz and Turina works are also winningly done with the astonishing early Decca stereo enshrining interpretations of great fire and vivid imagination.

There are also the legendary Liszt piano concerto recordings with Julius Katchen which rightfully deserve pride of place in this very fine set. Add the famous Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Alfredo Campoli to the cocktail and you have a winner. After hearing the glories of Argenta's music making anew in those heady 1950's, the detailed biographical note by Alan Sanders make us long nostalgically for what might have been. A must for historical enthusiasts.

Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech