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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Manuel de FALLA (1876 - 1946)
El Sombrero de tres picos (3 exc.) (1908) [9.59]
El Amor Brujo (5 exc.) [16.23]
Homenaje ‘Le tombeau de Claude Debussy’ (1920) [3.01]
Homenaje ‘Pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas’ (1935) [3.48]
(4) Obras Españolas (1908) [15.16]
Fantasía Bética (1919) [13.02]
Tres Obras de Juventud (1898) [12.01]
Jean-François Heisser, piano
Notes in English, Deutsch, and French.
Recorded at the Salle Adyar, Paris, France September 1989
WARNER APEX 2564 60157 2 [74.27]

Comparison recordings:

Artur Rubinstein, piano ADD RCA/BMG CD "Rubinstein Collection" Vol.18
Miguel Baselga, piano BIS 500773

Jean-François Heisser plays clearly, precisely and effectively and receives very good digital stereo recording. Since this is originally an Erato release some of the titles of the works are given in French.

The Rubinstein recordings are monophonic, from the 1940s, and sound somewhat rough by modern standards, although they have been lovingly restored, including some hand retouching of the dynamic range. I do it myself; if it’s OK for art restorers it’s OK for music restorers! I just hope I’m a little more subtle about it.

Rubinstein’s unerring theatrical instincts project this music most effectively in spite of dated sound, and if all you want are the Three Cornered Hat and the Love is a Sorcerer excerpts Rubinstein is your best choice. That disk also includes ‘Nights in the Gardens of Spain’ with Golschmann conducting, a superb (monophonic) recording by two masters of concerto repertoire, as well as some music by other Spanish composers. The Baselga recording contains only the complete solo piano music, not any theater music transcriptions.

I don’t mean to say Heisser isn’t quite good on the theatre piece transcriptions, it’s just that he respects them musically and declines to make sacrifices for effect. Nor does he have quite the heart of deLarrocha or the roiling sensuality of Miguel Baselga. He plays the unfamiliar solo works, the Fantasía Bética and the anthologies of short pieces, quite effectively, although his technique is just a little strained here and there in the fantastically difficult Fantasía (commissioned, incidentally, by Rubinstein).

The theatre piece transcriptions were apparently written out after the orchestral works were composed, and the Homenajes were eventually orchestrated, that for Debussy being originally a guitar work.

As with Naxos releases, the track list is only on the back of the jewelcase and is not repeated in the program booklet (although a page of advertising is included) which makes for two-handed reading during listening.

Paul Shoemaker

 



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