Let me start by stating loud and clear that this Universal Japan’s reissue of the 1961 Decca recording of Ernest Ansermet conducting music by Manuel de Falla, is indeed worth every penny of its steep price. To hear a performance of this caliber, recorded with such vividness and transferred to SACD with such care is, sorry for the cliche, simply priceless.
For what it matters, this is the second SACD reincarnation, the first one being Esoteric ’s now uber-expensive reissue. I’ll say though that Universal’s version sounds more natural against Esoteric’s somewhat metallic and rougher tone. Still, whatever the version, tape hiss is barely discernible, while soundstaging and dynamic range reach state of the art reproduction.
Not to be neglected, most of the merit deservedly goes to Ansermet and L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, playing what is undoubtedly lighthearted fare from Falla. But while ”The Three Cornered Hat” and excerpts from ”La Vida Breve” could be characterized as tourist postcards from Spain, they offer the perfect setting to showcase the precision of the strings’ pizzicato, or the dynamic control of the percussion, which does not overwhelm the rest of the orchestra, a problem that plagues many modern performances. And Ansermet’s sense of pace drives the rhythm with such a natural flow, that it could induce one to assume this to be a performance by a Spanish ensemble.
For anyone with a bias against analog technical standards, this disc should prove that they could produce recordings in 1961 that sound on par with the best that high-resolution has to offer over 50 years later.