La viejecita (Caballero)

Mercedes Melo, Mary Isaura, Pedro Vidal. Orquesta y coros, c. Concordio Gelabert
Blue Moon BMCD 7509 / or / Homokord HC005

Dolores Perez, Elsa del Campo, Santiago Ramallé. RNE Chorus, Madrid Chamber Orchestra, c. Montorio & Navarro
Montilla/Orfeon 25CDE-252

Ana María Iriarte, Toñy Rosado, Carlos Munguía, Manuel Ausensi. Coro Cnatores de Madrid, Orquesta de Cámara de Madrid, c. Ataulfo Argenta
Alhambra SC 75 [LP, nla]

In the continued absence of Argenta's much-loved account with Iriarte and Rosado, the historic 1930 account under Gelabert is first recommendation. Although the Preludio is missing, nothing else is, and the performance remains a classic, vivid and fresh, with good balance for its period. Melo makes much more attempt to characterise The Old Lady in her famous song than Pérez, well though the latter sings, and there is a palpable sense of fun throughout proceedings which is missing in the newer version.

Blue Moon couple it sensibly with Gigantes y cabezudos from the same excellent team. Although the Homokord transfer is smoother, their coupling is the unrelated Azabache - and in any case this CD is now difficult to obtain. Add to all this the fact that the currently available Orfeon CD is a terrible transfer from the original Zafiro LP, without track divisions and with no coupling whatsoever, and the Blue Moon is a virtual shoe-in.