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Various Artists - Musique de la Grèce Antique / Musicae de Madrid / Paniagua - Super Hot Stamper

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

Super Hot Stamper

Various Artists
Musique de la Grèce Antique / Musicae de Madrid / Paniagua

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus

  • With two solid Double Plus (A++) sides, this original Harmonia Mundi France import pressing (one of only a handful of copies to ever hit the site) will be very hard to beat
  • Spacious, rich and smooth - only vintage analog seems capable of reproducing all three of these qualities without sacrificing resolution, staging, imaging or presence
  • So transparent, dynamic and real, this copy raises the bar for the sound of this kind of unique music on vinyl
  • "Perhaps [Atrium Musicae de Madrid]’s most famous recording is Musique de la Grèce Antique (Music of Ancient Greece), in which they performed ancient Greek music carefully taken from scattered extant fragments of papyrus. Performing the ancient compositions also meant they had to reconstruct an arsenal of ancient instruments. This ancient music was an important aspect of the group’s live performances during a series of acclaimed international tours." - oldmusicbook.wordpress.com
  • "Utilizing a small chorus of six and a battery of instruments, [Paniagua] creates a fascinating landscape of sound, with thunderous breaks of fragmented melody and shards of recited and sung poetry breaking up periods of silence."

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This original import pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What The Best Sides Of Musique de la Grèce Antique Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1979
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren't veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we've heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

Standard Operating Procedures

What are sonic qualities by which a record -- any record -- should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.

When we can get a number of these qualities to come together on the side we’re playing, we provisionally give it a ballpark Hot Stamper grade, a grade that is often revised during the shootout as we hear what the other copies are doing, both good and bad.

Once we’ve been through all the side ones, we play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Other copies from earlier in the shootout will frequently have their grades raised or lowered based on how they sounded compared to the eventual shootout winner. If we’re not sure about any pressing, perhaps because we played it early on in the shootout before we had learned what to listen for, we take the time to play it again.

Repeat the process for side two and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides of each pressing match up.

It may not be rocket science, but it’s a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.

The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing -- or your money back.

What We're Listening For On Musique de la Grèce Antique

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.

Side One

artists are unknown unless otherwise noted

  • Anakrousis - Orestes Stasimo
  • Anakrousis - Gregorio Paniagua
    Orestes Stasimo
  • Fragments Instrumentaux De Contrapollinopolis
  • Premier Hymne Delphique À Apollon
  • Plainte De Tecmessa
  • Papyrus Wien
  • Papyrus Wien 29825
    Papyrus Wien G 13763/1494
  • Hymne Au Soleil - Mesomedes of Crete
  • Hymne À La Muse - Mesomedes of Crete
  • Hymne À Némésis - Mesomedes of Crete
  • Papyrus Michigan
  • Aenaoi Nefelai

Side Two

  • Épitaphe De Seikilos
  • Pean. Papyrus Berlin 6870
  • Anonymi Bellermann
  • 1re Ode Pythique
  • Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2436
  • Hymne Chretienne D'Oxyrhynchus
  • Homero Hymnus - Benedetto Marcello
  • Papyrus Zenon. Cairo Fragment
  • Terencio. Hecyra 861 - Terence
  • Poem. Mor 1, 11f. Migne 37, 523
  • Second Hymne Delphique À Apollon
  • Papyrus Oslo Epilogos - Katastrophe
  • Papyrus Oslo A/B
    Epilogos-Katastrophe - Gregorio Paniagua

ClassicsToday.com Review

What a strange–and brave, and utterly intriguing–recording this is. It’s just as weird and otherworldly-sounding as I remember from my first encounter with it about nine or 10 years ago. Gregorio Paniagua’s interpretations hover at the edge of performance art, from the “sonorous explosion” of the Anakrousis that opens the album through the percussive slams of the Second Delphic Hymn to Apollo. As Paniagua writes in the introduction: "We do not claim, with this record, to be making a mere compilation of what has been preserved of Greek music…It is more in the nature of the personal expression of a profoundly sad feeling in the face of an irremediable loss"

Paniagua’s sense of loss renders these as much dramatic theatrical statements as they are experiments in musicmaking. Utilizing a small chorus of six and a battery of instruments, he creates a fascinating landscape of sound, with thunderous breaks of fragmented melody and shards of recited and sung poetry breaking up periods of silence.