Recordings made by Erato, the French company, have probably been issued on a greater number of American labels than those from any other single European source. Some of them have not only passed from one U.S. label to another, but have remained current on two or three at the same time.

For the last several years RCA has been Erato's prime outlet here, though Columbia and the Musical Heritage Society have continued to release the material as well (the latter not infrequently preceding RCA in releasing recordings both now offer).In addition to the Erato recordings released on its own label, RCA has imported some of the French pressings from time to time.

A new batch of the imports has appeared, and it is well worth investigating, for a good deal of the music is not otherwise available, and the French record industry in general has become much more serious about the quality of disc pressings lately, giving the English, Germans and Dutch (if not the Japanese) a real run for their money. Here is a handful of choice items in the new Erato assortment: DELALANDE: Simphonies pour les soupers du Roy. Jean-Francois Paillard Chamber Orchestra, with Maurice Andre, trumpet. STU 70185: This gorgeous collection, recorded in 1963, was around earlier on Westminister. The Concert de Trompettes pour les Festes sur le canal de Versailles and the three suites called Caprices are prime examples of French brass and string festive music of Bach's time, and are not likely to be more handsomely presented. The sound is still stunning; Paillard's notes are printed in French only. LULLY & MOURET; Fanfares & Simphonies. Jean-Francois Paillard Chamber Orchestra. STU 70069: More of the glorious same, including the Mouret suite that beings with the "Masterpiece Theatre" theme, a second one with hunting horns, a sequence of pieces from Lully's opera-ballet Amadis, and an attractive shorter suite by an anonymous contemporary. The sound is a little richer than on the still current MHS 1624. ALBINONI: Adagio in G minor & 4 Concertos. Saar Radio Chamber Orchestra, Karl Ristenpart conducting. STU 70231: When this program (which includes the Op. 9 No. 2 Oboe Concerto, with Jacques Chambon, and Op. 7 No. 6 played on the trumpet by Maruice Andre) was issued on MHS 664 nearly 15 years ago, it was one of the first things that called my attention to the imaginative and stylish art of the remarkable Ristenpart. What a different he made in the slow movement of the popular Oboe Concerto in D minor by simply having the strings play pizzicato instead of arco; this is the sort of freedom baroque musicians allowed themselves, and it is stunningly effective, even if the notorous Adagio is an impossible as ever. The sound has been remastered since RCA last comported this item a half-dozen years ago, but the MHS edition strikes me as still cleaner. CHOROS DO BRASIL. Turbio Santos, guitar. ERA 9155: No Villa-Lobos in this package, but some marvelous things by Joao Pernambuco, Agustin Barrios and four lesser-known composes, some of them with as many as three guitars (all different sizes) and enchanting Brazilian percussion instruments. The titles would mean little, but the sounds are irresistible. A marvelous surprise package, recorded in 1977, superbly processed. ROUSSEL: Aeneas. ballet, Op. 54. Orchestre National and chorus of ORTF, Paris, Jean Martinon conducting. STU 70578: This is the only item in Martinon's Roussel series that has not appeared on MHS.It is one of Roussel's last works (composed in 1935, introduced posthumously in 1938). It is a rather austere piece, with the chorus both singing and declaiming Joseph Wetering's dramatic text on Aeneas' ordeal of solitude and his renunciation of pleasure in his commitment to his ordained mission, the founding of Rome. "Hardly a ballet so much as a sacred drame, acted and sung," as one of Roussel's contemporaries observed. Martinon's performance is eloquent, the 1970 recording just fine, and Harry Halbreich's comprehensive notes more than helpful. The recording is listed as No. 3374 in the MHS catalogue, but I have never seen a copy of that disc and must wonder if MHS actually issued it.