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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

La Folia by Gregorio Paniagua on Harmonia Mundi


If a perfect record exists, this is "La Folia" by Gregorio Paniagua and his ensemble.

Rivers of ink have been spent on this record since its issue in early '70s: the Land Rover sound, the bells, the toy weapons shots... a dream and a nightmare for every audio columnist and reviewer and for every audiophile worldwide.

The recordist, monsieur Jean-Francois Pontefract, masterfully recorded it somewhere in the quiet French countryside, in an old church (the bells...)... various birds singing and crickets are well audible throughout the whole recording...

During the magnificient bell sound, these birds are someway disturbed and their singing and screaming is beautifully intervowen with the bells...

Sitar, vihuelas, tablas, big frame drums, flutes and recorders with some jokes with "sifflets" and other weird percussions and objects are played along the disc...

Yesterday evening, after a very long, difficult day, I had an "in toto" listening to a disk of this very recording in Gotorama... still using the Radford HD-250 with the Just Quality CD-player... can't imagine a cheapest audio chain... yet the sound, the final musical result was AWESOME: not the ultimate in harmonic and details retrival, but AWESOME in dynamics and timbric correctness!

My dog, as myself, at ignition sound of the Land Rover, so true in dimensions and trueness - like a Model 88 appeared between my speakers - were SO surprised... Chicco woofed and myself... had goosebumps;-)

Every sound, musical or a noise recorded in this Harmonia Mundi's production is so vivid, so fulgid and amazingly beautiful... maybe it's not the most moving music, as the "Folia" melody recorded and re-re-recorded as it was played during a period of time spanning several centuries is not a musical peak in itself, nonetheless, the Paniaguas' with Pontefract's support were able to blissfully pass the joyous musical atmosphere of the gathering which happened in that June of 36 years ago...

... and we - the listeners - are still able to hear when the recording happened: some tracks are recorded at noon, some others in the evening, as it's clearly audible from the difference in outer church noises, as captured by the microphones - i.e. more crickets sounds and less birds singing.

A masterpiece... if, like myself, you hadn't a listen in years to this, it's well worth undusting the disc and enjoy.

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