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Jesús GURIDI (1886-1961)
Piano Works
Danzas viejas (Ancient Dances) (1939) [5:42]
Cantos populares vascos (Basque Folksongs) (1917) [7:40]
Vasconia (1924) [13:18]
Ocho apuntes para piano (Eight Sketches) (1954) [15:38]
Lamento e imprecación de Agar (Hagar’s Lament and Curse) (1958) [8:30]
Vals de Mirentxu (Waltz from Mirentxu) (1915) [3:19]
Amanecer (Dawn) [2:35] and Nostalgia [3:05] from Tres piezas breves (1910)
Victoria Aja (piano)
Rec. Estudio L’Auditorium de Anacrusi in July 2001 DDD
NAXOS 8.557633 [60:04]



This is the third disc in Naxos’s Spanish Classics series devoted to the music of the important Basque composer Jesús Guridi. After two primarily orchestral outings, attention has turned to the piano music in the capable hands of Victoria Aja. Although he travelled extensively whilst studying, much of Guridi’s musical inspiration derived from his homeland and its folk music. This is pervasive throughout the disc but most obvious in the eight uncomplicated but charming Cantos populares vascos and the powerfully evocative Vasconia. There is poetry in evidence here and a song-like quality to much of this music.

The works presented here span more than forty years of Guridi’s career and are mostly miniatures although there is some serious meat in Vasconia and Hagar’s Lament and Curse. The former is in three movements, an extended central “legend” being framed by Ancient carillon, which has almost classical restraint and a festive toccata to finish. Hagar’s Lament and Curse is an impressive drama with biblical origins.

The Ancient Dances which open the disc are three musical commentaries on poems by Victor Espinós, whilst the eight sketches derive some inspiration from 18th century keyboard music. Mirentxu is a “Basque operatic idyll” and its waltz quite characterful. Amanecer and Nostalgia are early works but not derivative, Guridi had already found his voice.

This is a delightful selection of Guridi’s music and Victoria Aja’s playing is completely idiomatic. She is sensitive to every nuance and is recorded in pleasingly natural sound which has considerable depth.

Some minor irritations – the documentation is a bit thinner than is usual on this label. The works might have been better presented chronologically so as to trace the composer’s development. Finally, it is a pity and unfathomable that only two of the Tres piezas breves are included. Nevertheless, none of the above should put anyone off from acquiring this disc since it is perfect listening for a balmy summer evening. Hurry, there may not be many more this year.

Patrick C Waller

see also Review by Rob Barnett






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