Falla: El Amor Brujo (CD review)

Also Granados: Intermezzo; Ravel: Pavane pour une infante defunte and Alborarda del Gracioso. Nati Mistral; Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, New Philharmonia. LIM K2HD 023. 

There is no doubt this classic 1966 Decca rendition of Falla's perennial favorite ballet-with-song El Amor Brujo has weathered the test of time quite well. Dutoit's equally beguiling rendition challenged it more recently, but de Burgos's way with Falla is certainly affectionate in the way he lavishes loving care and attention on every phrase. Nor does de Burgos forget the color and excitement of Spain, and audiophiles can be justifiably proud of showing it off to wow friends with their audio systems.

The bigger question is whether it's worth spending about twice as much money on this remastering of the piece when it comes only in the configuration cited above, and Decca's own various mid-priced editions come with more material. Does the new LIM (Lasting Impression Music) remastering really sound that good? LIM's owner and producer, Winston Ma, would assure you it is that good. As he points out, the new K2HD processing is better even than XRCD2. Well, that is his opinion, and what else would you expect him to say? But the proof is in the pudding, and there is no doubt this thing does sound good.

The K2HD remastering brings out all of the recording's dynamics and detail, providing a wide stereo spread and a fine sense of orchestral depth, perhaps a hair more so than on my old Decca "Classic Sound" CD. More important, the K2HD processing appears to offer up a smoother overall sound, which is most pleasing on the ear. However, some listeners may argue that it takes away some of the original CD's transparency by sounding slightly softer. I don't know. I leave that discussion to dedicated audiophiles. I only know I liked what I heard, the K2HD business making a good thing better. Twice as good? Not quite. But different in a pleasing way and different enough to make it worthwhile to discerning, deep-pocketed buyers.


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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For over 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me--point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, as of right now it comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio High Current preamplifier, AVA FET Valve 550hc or Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

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It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa