Reissued on 180-gram vinyl for the first time since it was recorded
Half-speed mastered from the original analog tapes by Stan Ricker, plated at RTI, pressed at Pallas in Germany
Double 33 1/3 RPM gatefold LP
On the The Absolute Sound list of must-hear audiophile recordings
There can be none more fitting and fantastic tribute to the late Stan Ricker's half-speed mastering brillance and the quality of his cutting system electronics (designed and hand-crafted by Keith O. Johnson) than this reissued double LP.
Ricker's devotion to the half-speed mastering technique – the lathe cutter head turns at precisely half the desired playback speed, giving the cutting head twice the time to cut complex analog grooves into the lacquer – produced this exceptional reissue on Fabio Camorani's AudioNautes Recordings label. Ricker went through many lacquers and even broke a cutter head in an effort to inscribe onto the lacquers all of the percussive transient detail on the recording tape!
This double LP set has resided on The Absolute Sound's 'Super Disc' list since dinosaurs ruled. It has an incredible variety of music and instruments from a 200-year period. There are no voices. The sound is very clean, transparent, complex and extended in the highs. The harmonic richness and decay within the hall is outstanding. The soundstage is very deep, but it is not unusually wide.
The disc is simply ravishing. It's a classic analogue recording from 1980, lovingly produced, engineered and edited by Robert von Bahr using a Revox A77 and two – presumably spaced — simple Sennheiser MKH105 omni condenser mikes (vintage early '60's design); it amply shows the merits of a simple signal path, combined with minimal intervention and post-processing.
The recording immediately astonishes with its fluid, natural and utterly truthful sound, And the acoustic of the Chapel of the Imperial College, Madrid is just beautiful. The music, all 80 minutes of it, features variations on three archetypal Spanish themes (La Spagna, a Spagnoletta and Pavane), as interpreted by different composers such as Praetorius, Farnaby, Negri, Josquin Desprez, Ortiz and others. Aided by impeccable playing and 'realisation' of the basic themes, the end result is lively, fun and eclectic.