Label: Speakers Corner / Decca SXL 6081 – 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl
Limited Edition – Pure Analogue Audiophile Mastering – Pressed at Pallas Germany
Maurice Ravel: “Shéhérazade” / Hector Berlioz: “Les Nuits d’Eté” – Régine Crespin and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande conducted by Ernest Ansermet.
At the time when Ravel set down “Shéhérazade”, and although he had already composed such works as “Pavane pour une Infante defunte” and “Jeux d’eau”, – regarded today as excellent – the young composer was still struggling for recognition. Five times he tried to win the prestigious “Prix de Rome”, France’s highest musical award, but barely achieved more than limited acclaim.
Ravel’s provocative assertion that he didn’t follow any particular musical direction, but was an anarchist is reflected in his free, wonderfully interwoven composition “Shéhérazade”. A touch of the Orient is entwined with late-romantic harmony and an impressionistic, modern brilliance, whose depth calls for and merits repeated listening.
Ravel shares the lot of a misunderstood genius with Hector Berlioz. Written in 1832, his cycle “Les Nuits d’Eté”, with its pulsating and arietta-like but also morbid and ghostly songs, provide a wonderful example of a composition from the French Romantic era.
Wonderful singing, a perfectly marshaled orchestra, top-draw sonics and music to die for: this is my record of the summer Sound 5/5 Audiobeat
It would be difficult to over-state the importance of this new Speakers Corner disc. When taken in conjunction with the Ansermet – Sleeping Beauty, it confirms that Tony Hawkins and Air Studios are able to produce discs that surpass the Decca originals, which – with stereo LPs – has never happened before. – Classical Source
The present superb performance was highly acclaimed by producer and author G. A. Eckle, who stated »Régine Crespin is the embodiment of quality when it comes to French repertoire in her category.
Speakers Corner reissue of Regine Crespin’s seminal Sheherazade, coupled with Nuits D’Ete. Ansermet is on board with all the color and richness of the Suisse Romande, and Crespin sets a new benchmark particularly in the Ravel, which still remains top rated to this day. Magnificent sound.
If you don’t know the music, or classical song cycles don’t immediately ring your bell, don’t let that put you off. The hauntingly beautiful melodies and lush tonality of this recording make it an addictive, accessible pleasure of which you shouldn’t deny yourself. Anybody who loves the Songs of the Auvergne should step right up, as this has the same easy charm and memorable tunes. Pick a hot day, open the windows, smell the air and enjoy. This is so darned nice I’d almost list it as a guilty pleasure — except that there’s nothing to be guilty about. Repeated listening won’t even make you fat, so spin it up and let it rip. Wonderful singing, a perfectly marshaled orchestra, top-draw sonics and music to die for: this is my record of the summer Sound 5/5 Audiobeat
In terms of sound, the Speakers Corner LP, when compared with a very early (that is, the first
lacquer, mother and stamper numbers) wideband, grooved ‘Original Recording by…’ disc, is clearly
The original has excellent definition, silky string tone, Crespin’s voice real presence and attack,
and that indefinable something that characterises Decca sound. On the new disc all of these
qualities are amplified. The woodwind are alarmingly realistic, the strings richer, the image and
individual woodwind are locked in place, the dynamic range is better, and crucially, the bass is more extended and better-controlled, which means that the sound-stage has greater weight and
power, without any loss of definition. Crespin’s voice now has startling, thrilling presence, fullness
of tone and vibrancy. Indeed I have never heard the mezzo voice so stunningly well-captured. The
overall balance is slightly more forward, but the change is nowhere near as pronounced as on the
solid-state remasterings done during the1970s by Decca themselves, and these new discs do
sound valve generated.
Recorded at – Victoria Hall, Geneva, September 1963
Recording Engineer: James Lock