I mentioned so many positive attributes regarding L’Archet d’Or Series 2 when we last gave out our music awards I’m almost at a loss for superlatives in discussing Series 3. I didn’t think Glenn Armstrong was capable of surpassing his previous releases. It will come as no surprise for everyone who read my review in Issue 46, That L’Archet d’Or Series 3 (volumes IX-XII) is way ahead of the field when it comes to Recording of the Year.
Here we are exposed once again to some of the world’s finest musicians. The pianos of Agnelle Bundervöet, Germain Thyssens-Valentin and Geneviève Joy; the Loewnguth Quartet, the violin of Jeanne Gautier and the violoncello of André Levy. Musicians aside, it’s always about the music, and the works here from Ravel, Fauré, Bach and Turina are sublime. Of course the other AO constant is the analogue lacquer cutting of Nick Webb at Abbey Road, which is as sensitive and dynamic as ever.
The recordings, made between 1958 and 1968, are all issued here for the first time, and we are treated to a simply blissful selection of near mythical music making. In the connoisseur collectors market these musicians are household names, even if those with more mainstream tastes will greet them with a blank stare. The problem is that original releases by practically everyone featured on AO are so rare and highly prized that they are near impossible to afford. These artists are also overlooked by companies offering re-issue CDs, though Thyssens-Valentin has had her Mozart and many of her Fauré recordings reissued. Needless to say, those offered here have never before seen the light of day.
Every issue from L’Archet d’Or is important, but I feel that Series 3 sets the bar higher still than the previous issues. This is a project that needs to be supported because of the quality of the material Armstrong has mined and hopefully will continue to release. This is the best four record set of music I own.
Richard S. Foster Hifi+ Issue 54, 2007