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Rob Maynard
MusicWeb International, December 2013

One of music’s “what might have beens”, Ataulfo Argenta was poised on the edge of a highly promising career when he died in a tragic accident, leaving all too little recorded material. These may not be desert island performances but they add to our knowledge and appreciation of a very accomplished conductor. © MusicWeb International

Robert Matthew-Walker
Musical Opinion, November 2013

A swift ‘Eroica’…very well played by the leading orchestra of Spain in 1957, makes a major contribution to the discography of this potentially great conductor…The other items are worth hearing…there is no doubting Argenta’s great talent. Excellent sound for the period. © 2013 Musical Opinion

Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, July 2013

[The Beethoven] is a performance of real stature, all the more impressive for being accomplished with the Spanish National Orchestra…

The same can be said of The Bartered Bride Overture with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. This performance, in a sense, is a distillation of Argenta’s remarkable skills.

The rest of the program is a small sampling of the largest part of Argenta’s recorded legacy…It is a pleasure to hear how Argenta lovingly shapes these pieces. The…Gran Orquesta Sinfónica plays with great feeling and genial competency.

The monaural recordings have been skillfully opened up to provide some space around the sound. The release itself is highly recommended. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, May 2013

…as soon as I put the CD on, I was astonished by the high quality and personal phrasing of [Argenta’s] music making.

Argenta’s performance of The Bartered Bride Overture also bristles with good humor, but more importantly his stylish sense of continuity and excellent command of legato phrasing also come through…This disc was a terrific surprise and a delight for me… © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Rob Cowan
Gramophone, March 2013

…the overall impression [of Eroica] is of a strong musical personality who’s very much in charge. It’s a powerful yet flexible reading, well played.

I’m sure this happy variation on the operetta genre would find a welcome local market and the assorted preludes and intermezzos by Chapí and Giménez included here fall very happily on the ear. © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Chris Hathaway
Classical 91.7 KUHA, January 2013

It is an exceptional and forceful performance, with some really fine playing from the horn section…The Funeral March is Adagio assai, as Beethoven indicates, but not static by any means. The Scherzo is lightning-quick but never at any moment lacking in clarity, and the full-bodied string tone (full-bodied at all dynamic levels) is the mark of a conductor who knows how to let his musicians play as they are accustomed to playing. Hence the unbridled spirit of Beethoven comes out in bold relief. Those qualities are increasingly apparent in the Finale, in which clarity and unusually finished playing are driven by a specially Beethovenian momentum. This momentum is not lost even in the slower, introspective passage toward the end where the winds take the lead. When this section becomes more martial, without any change in tempo, this, too, is brought to the fore—as it should be. Argenta’s exemplary handling of the transition from this section to the coda shows an extraordinary sense of pulse. This is indeed a welcome disc. © 2013 Classical 91.7 KUHA Read complete review

Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition, November 2012

The present ICA collation of performances 1955-1957 adds significantly to the Argenta recorded legacy.

Argenta makes speedy points with his volatile account of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony (24 May 1957) from the Palacio de la Musica, Madrid with the Spanish National Orchestra…the level of execution remains quite high, the elided repeat of the first movement’s inducing a rather manic rush of energy from the outset. The upward rockets and woodwind interchanges enjoy considerable power and flexibility, the dynamics rising tumultuously in grand upheavals that recapture something of the shock this music must have had on its original public. The vocal character of Beethoven’s melodic sweep Argenta delivers in long lines; and the final pages of the Allegro con brio scamper most deliciously in their sense of metric liberation.

The Marcia funebre proceeds on a grandly somber scale, with Argenta’s allowing the solo instrumentals their full, clear sonic splendor…In retrospect, this new addition to the Argenta recorded archive adumbrates the gravity of the conductor’s own passing. The gravitas, the intensity of the moment achieves a mighty organ-based sonority, and there are moments when the passion approaches the many Furtwaengler conceptions of this dark score. Besides a fervent tempo, enthusiastic playing by the National Orchestra horns delivers a febrile Scherzo of bewitched power. The feathery elasticity of the rapid string playing adds to the demonic character of the rendition. The singing line and dance-character of the flute variation and its dramatic, contrapuntal successors enjoy wonderful resonance. Here is an Eroica that avoids cliches and renews the splendid revolutionary ardor of the composer’s inspiration.

Smetana’s virtuosic Overture to The Bartered Bride…live from Victoria Hall, Geneva provides a svelte example of Argenta’s sway over an extended contrapuntal piece, a bravura juggling of the many chattering lines of townspeople’s gossip, the butt of Smetana’s comic opera. Woodwinds, strings, and tympani deliver an accented scintillating seven minutes’ worth of music, light, transparent, and lusciously mounted. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

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