Habanera, Cavatina, Al Amancer for violin and orchestra,
Esquisses Symphoniques, Sinfonietta in D.
Philharmonic Orchestra of
Gran Canaria, Adrian Leaper.
ASV CD DCA 1078 (DDD)
Ernesto Halifter was a Spanish composer, born in 1905. He was encouraged
by Manuel de Falla for whom he had an exaggerated admiration. Like Falla,
his music lacks a vital ingredient, the ability to say something completely
new. Halffter's music is attractive, tonal and easy-going. Occasionally,it
has the sparkle of Ravel but his orchestration varies in quality. More often
than not, it is somewhat watery and when he does become adventurous, as in
the bubbling horn writing in Al Amancer, it can be very exciting.
His music is in the Romantic-Impressionistic style and, surprisingly, somewhat
short on nationalistic features. It is pleasant music but offers nothing
of any real purport to remember.
The Habanera of 1931 is not strong enough rhythmically and I am unable
to say whether this is inherent in the music or the performance. One expects,
perhaps wrongly, more drive. There is also a lack of colour. The most colourful
orchestration comes in the second of the two Esquisses Symphoniques.
It may surprise us further that his first large-scale orchestral work is
called Sinfonietta although it lasts for about 35 minutes. But one
soon discovers why. It is very lightweight, a kind of a divertimento and,
quite frankly, some of the music is banal and embarrassingly trivial. And
yet, there are rare moments of heightened expectation. The end of the second
movement is quite impressive but the Minuetto is so bad that one hangs
one's head in shame. Thinking that I may be being a little severe, I asked
some of my professional colleagues about this work and they voiced the same
reservations and in bolder terms. One did say that there was a better recording
of the Sinfonietta available but I have no desire to track it down.
Adrian Leaper is a good conductor and I do not want to say anything to question
this. Perhaps he is not fully in sympathy with Spanish music. The recorded
sound is good.