Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Jésus GURIDI (1886-1961)
Diez Melodías Vascas (1941) [19.53]
Amaya: Plenilunio-Espatadantza (1920) [11.35]
Homenaje a Walt Disney - fantasy for piano and orchestra (1956) [22.00]
Pilar Bayona (piano)
Orquesta de Conciertos de Madrid
Orquesta Nacional de España/Jésus Arámbarri
Mono ADD - rec 1959 (Hispavox)
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This disc has been in the EMI catalogue since 1992 but it is well past time that it was given more attention. Guridi's name will be less unfamiliar than once it was. At one stage if you knew the name you were certain to be a Zarzuela specialist. This is no longer the case. There has been the wonderfully generous 1997 Claves collection on Claves Records CD 50-9709. Even more recently the Ambroisie label recorded his España - Seis Canciones castellanas (with Teresa Berganza) on AMB9908. Within the last six months Marco Polo brought out their complete 1998 Bilbao Amaya - one of Guridi's lyric dramas (8.225084-85). The orchestral interlude from Amaya, featured here, is made up of the conjoined dramatic atmospherics of Plenlilunio and the creaky sword dance, Espatadantza. It is no wonder that the dance was encored when the orchestral suite from the opera was given in Madrid in 1921.

Guridi's Disney Homage has none of the 'cutesy-pie' kitsch we now associate with the Disney corporation. On the contrary the music has the knowing mystic inclination of John Ireland's Legend but with a more Dukas-like proclivity for glaring colour - probably inspired by L'Apprenti Sorcier. While the age of the mono recording (everything on this disc is mono) is proclaimed by the damaged surface apparent in the first few moments this momentary blemish soon disappears and we can enjoy the authentic style of the pianist who premiered and championed the work, Pilar Bayona. Bayona calls up memories of Fauré's Ballade but Guridi has spiced this up with the raggedy brightness of woodwind writing of Stravinsky and of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. The sinister atmosphere of de Falla's El Amor Brujo is also in evidence.

The Ten Basque Dances are brilliant, sassy, highly coloured, never dull, shimmering and often sheerly magical. One can think of the similarly spiced Greek Dances of Skalkottas (beloved of Mitropoulos) and the stony glow of the Finnish nationalist music of Uuno Klami, which like Guridi's has more than a little bright French polish. Highlights include the Narrativa (a Bizet-inflected Farandole spiced with ever-so-slightly wrong notes); the Iberian valse triste of Amorosa; the Religiosa soaked in voices ranging from Hovhaness to the antiquarian Warlock to the geographically closer Lopes-Graça. The second Amorosa sweeps slowly along like the flourishes of Kodaly's Peacock. More antiquity comes in the Danza. The Elegiaca is melancholic in both Sibelian and Elgarian tones. The final Festiva's gleamy-eyed chatter and wheezy jocularity is irresistible. Think in terms of the Guridi's Espatadantza.

Arámbarri was himself a Basque born in Bilbao in 1902. He was also a composer and studied with Paul Le Flem as well as with Dukas. His major conducting mentor was Weingartner in Basle. He became principal conductor of the Bilbao Symphony orchestra in 1933. He gave Spanish premieres of the works on Vaughan Williams, Britten and Walton and took a special interest in choral works utilising the massed choral singing of the Basque people. His works are worthy of revivalist attention and include Castilla for soprano, chorus and orchestra as well as the Eight Basque Songs for soprano and orchestra and the Gabon Zar Sorginak for orchestra.

EMI are to be thanked for keeping this exceptionally vivid disc in the catalogue. The Claves, which is at full price, is more generously timed, is in stereo and is much better recorded. However this disc gives direct access to the historically authentic voice of the composer through his contemporary interpreters. Well worth your attention and now we can surely hope for the world premiere recording of Guridi's Sinfonia Pirenaica.

Rob Barnett

Previous reviews

Jesús GURIDI  Amaya Lyric Drama in three acts and an epilogue Basque libretto by Fr. José de Arrué after the novel by Navarro Villoslada Marco Polo CD box set: 8.225084/85 [2 hr 17 min] [CW]

JESUS GURIDI - HIS ORCHESTRAL WORKS: DIEZ MELODIAS VASCAS (1941) for Orchestra, HOMENAJE A WALT DISNEY (1956) for Piano and Orchestra,  UNA AVENTURA DE DON QUIJOTE (1916) Symphonic Poem, EUZKO IRUDIAK (1922) for choir and orchestra Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa (Basque National Orchestra); Orfeon Donostiarra, choir; Ricardo Requejo, piano; Miguel A. Gomez Martinez, conductor With funding from Eusko Jaurlaritza (Gobierno Vasco), Mondragon Corporacion Cooperativa and Gasnalsa. CLAVES RECORDS CD 50-9709 [RB]


Select Current Discography by Christopher Webber

Orchestral and Choral

***** Claves CD 50-9709

"Diez Melodías Vascas" (1941); "Homenaje a Walt Disney" (1956) for Piano and Orchestra; "Una Aventura de Don Quixote" (1916), symphonic poem; "Euzko Irudiak" (Basque Scenes) for chorus and orchestra. Basque National Orchestra, Orfeon Donostiarra, Ricardo Requejo (piano), conducted by Miguel A. Gomez Martinez. see review

**** EMI Classics 7243 5 56876 2 3

"Agur Jaunak - Basque Music". Includes "Diez Melodías Vascas", "Euzko Irudiak" and "Goiko mendian" for a capella choir, with works by Sorozábal and others. Bilbao Choral Society, Orchestre de Capitole de Toulouse, conducted by Michel Plasson.

**** EMI Classics Mono CDM 7 64558 2

"Diez Melodías Vascas", "Amaya - Lunar Rites and Sword Dance", "Homenaje a Walt Disney". Pilar Bayona (piano), Madrid Symphony Orchestra / Spanish National Orchestra, conducted by Jesús Arámbarri.

**** BMG RCA WD 71984

"Diez Melodías Vascas", coupled with music by Albéniz and Turina. National Spanish Orchestra, conducted by Ataulfo Argenta.

Chamber and Instrumental

*** Aus-Art Records aAr 008

(Basque classical label - email:

Piano music including "Tres piezas breves", "Cantos populares vascos", "Danzas viejas", "Ocho apuntes" (Eight Etudes), "Lamento e imprecación de Agar", and "Vasconia" (3-movement Suite). Pedro José Rodriguez Larrañaga (piano).

**** RTVE Música 65039

"Danzas viejas", "Lamento e imprecación de Agar", and "Vasconia", with works by Gerhard, Brotons and Barnaola. Albert Nieto (piano).

**** Decca London Weekend Classics 436 293-2

"Viejo Zortzico" for harp, with works by Falla, Albéniz, Britten, Pierné and others. Marisa Robles (harp).

***** Ensayo ENY-CD-9706

"Complete String Quartets" (Nos. 1 & 2). Enesco Quartet.

Vocal and Operatic

***** DGG 435 848-2

"Canciones Españolas". Three songs from "Seis canciones castellanas", part of a 2-CD anthology of Spanish songs. Teresa Berganza (mezzo-soprano), Félix Lavilla (piano).

**** BMG Ariola España WD 71468

"El caserío" (1926 zarzuela). Pilar Lorengar, Manuel Ausensi, Carlos Munguia.

Coro de camera de Orfeón Donostiarra, Orquesta Sinfónica, conducted by Ataulfo Argenta

***** EMI Hispavox 5 74156

"El caserío" (1926 zarzuela). Dolores Perez, Luis Sagi-Vela, Carlo del Monte.

Coro Cantores de Madrid, Orquesta Lírica Española, conducted by Federico Moreno Torroba.

**** Homokord HC006

"La Condesa de la Aguja y el Dedal" (1946 zarzuela). Original cast recordings, coupled with music from Torroba's "Maravilla".

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