Naxos Spanish Classics series continues to grow apace.
The inclusion of contemporary composers, as here, raises
the question of how such recent works as these acquire ‘classic’ status.
General popularity and number of performances are two indicators,
though they are not necessarily linked; however in respect
of Lorenzo Palomo’s music there is some correlation.
first phrase to last there is no mistaking the overtly
Spanish flavour of Palomo’s music, though more specifically
it owes much to the characteristics of Andalusian composition
with its Jewish and Moorish elements. Palomo’s idiom is
rooted in an easily grasped tonality that displays a great
interest in exploring the textures and rhythmic configurations
that can be achieved by the instrumental groups at his
lends the outward appearance of an extended series of tone
poems to the six movements that comprise the Andalusian
Nocturnes. Given that each movement is titled (A
Toast to the Night, Gust of Wind and The
Flamenco Stage, for example) it is not hard to guess
at the music’s approximate mood. In actuality this is a
large-scale concertante work for guitar and orchestra,
during which the soloist weaves a line into and against
the wider textures employed. The solo part bears obvious
references to the Spanish classical guitar school, both
in terms of material and exhibition of technique. However
Palomo also seeks to explore the impressionistic nuances
of shade, shadow and darkness that the instrument possesses.
Pepe Romero, for whom the work was written, gives an assured
reading and Frühbeck de Burgos conducted the work’s world
premiere in 1996, here drawing playing of some sensitivity.
second work, Spanish Songs, is the one that first
turned my attention towards Palomo’s music. Recently I
found myself discussing the topic of repertoire with an
up-and-coming Spanish soprano. Her response to the question
of which recent Spanish works for voice and orchestra merit
attention was that I should investigate Palomo’s Spanish
Songs. Composed originally as two sets of songs for
Montserrat Caballé the work exploits most of the qualities
that were to be found in her voice during its prime years:
a need for strong legato line, rich tone and a keen intelligence
in handling words. That Caballé never recorded the work
may be a minor regret for some, but for me María Bayo proves
a persuasive advocate in her own right. That she seeks
to exploit the drama in miniature aspect of each song helps
in delivering involved and involving performances. At times
there are clear elements of theatricality on display (La
niña de blanco) but these are countered by evocations
of atmospheres (Llueve, llueve) and a sense of intimacy
between poet, composer and performer.
clear and detailed recording is supported by a succinct
biography of Palomo and useful notes on the works. Song
texts are downloadable as a PDF file from the Naxos website,
as is the company’s usual practice. Warmly recommended
if tuneful Spanish infused textures are your thing.
see also review by Göran