Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

MARCO Arbol de Arcangeles
MONTSALVATGE Cinco Canciones Negras
RAVEL Bolero
Manuel de
FALLA La Vida Breve (Interlude and Dance No. 1); El Amor Brujo (Ritual Fire Dance).
Carole Farley (sop)
Sudwestrundfunk Sinfonieorkester/Jose Serebrier
PHOENIX PHCD 147 [67.33]

Serebrier is one of those conductors peripheral to the catalogue but well worth watching for. His status outside the 'great' circle seems more to do with his nomadic course from label to label - orchestra to orchestra. His association with Reference Recordings bore an artistic harvest out of all proportion to its meagre reception by the review establishment. His stimulating Sheherazade is very fine indeed. Now he pops up with a good German Radio orchestra and in the sort of anthology that hales from a bygone era. The orchestra we know from their various Hänssler releases but, in times gone by, they were a house-band with Vox as well. Their exuberant and skilled performances well serve Serebrier who never allows tired received styles. He is not wonderfully served by the venue which is warm at lower volumes but which clouds when the music becomes boisterous.

There are some magical effects as at the end of the El Puerto in Iberia but the louder sections, while thumpingly positive, suffer from a smearing of individual lines. The ambience suits Marco's Britten-like Arbol de Arcangeles (1995), full of punch, which is for string orchestra. After the peppery douche of the Marco the Montsalvatge (once recorded for EMI Hispavox by de Los Angeles - still a classic) is a benison. Farley has just the voice for this music (closely focused by the engineers though not suffocatingly so) though I had my slight doubts about the accent in Chevere. Her voice runs the gamut from girlish smiling soprano to the blackest alto shadows. If you are taken with the Granados songs then you will want this. In fact I rather hope Farley will record some Granados and the de Falla Siete Canciones. The Bolero is taken without languor at [13.40]. In the notes, Serebrier indicates that he has been influenced by Ravel's own recording. The de Falla snippets are acceptable makeweights with El Amor poundingly done; so well indeed that I would have liked to hear Serebrier in the complete suite. I dream that one day Serebrier will discover the orchestral music of Joseph Marx. His way with those bejewelled scores would make him a natural for Marx's Herbstsinfonie and Natur-trilogie as would the orchestral song cycle Verkärtes Jahr with Farley.

Meantime, not perhaps the rush out and buy disc Phoenix might have hoped but certainly one worth tracking down for Serebrier's way with Bolero and Farley's Montsalvatge cycle.

Rob Barnett

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