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CD Review

Great Conductors of the 20th Century

Ataúlfo Argenta

Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire/Ataúlfo Argenta
* "Orchestre des Cento Soli"/Ataúlfo Argenta
EMI Classics 75097 ADD part monaural 2CDs: 68:58, 74:53
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Argenta's untimely death robbed the world of one of its finest talents, and his conducting prowess is indeed well demonstrated in this fine collection of orchestral recordings. Each piece seems tailor made for the flamboyant Spaniard who manages a wonderfully rich tonal palette from these French orchestras of variable quality.

The 'Faust' Symphony is a grand reading and is also informed with great dignity, rather in the mould of Masur in Leipzig. The recording is exceptionally clear and here one can only marvel at the thrilling orchestral playing that is surely excellent and judiciously paced at all turns.

Ravel's 'Alborado del Gracioso' is full of typical Iberian flavour and it is fascinating to compare performances by a Spanish conductor directing a French orchestra, in this case the Orchestre des Cento Soli. Schubert's Ninth is a grand, classical reading rather in tune with the contemporaneous Krips also on Decca but I would prefer Argenta for a more ravishing Finale. De Falla's 'El Amor Brujo' seems tailor made for Argenta and this must be one of the finest ever recordings of the work ever made, both for its authenticity and for its dashing sweep and originality.

All recordings have come up as clean as a whistle and the album is a fine memorial to another conductor who was so tragically short lived yet left a smattering of excellent recordings for posterity in a short space of time.

Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech