Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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Jesús GURIDI (1886-1961)
Ten Basque Melodies (1941) [22.40]
So the Boys Sing (1915) [13.34]
An Adventure of Don Quixote (1916) [11.07]
In a Phoenician Vessel (1927) [14.28]
The Early Cock is Crowing (1942) [3.38]
Isabel Álvarez (sop)
Chorus of the Conservatory of Bilbao Choral Society
Bilbao Symphony Orchestra/Juan José Mena
rec. Euskalduna Concert Hall, Bilbao, 26-30 June 2000. DDD
Spanish Classics series
NAXOS 8.557110 [65.25]

Guridi's concert music has been granted a fresh lease of life since the first Basque series Claves disc was issued in 1997 at full price. There he proved himself as a regionalist practised in the spiced and barbed folk idiom of the Basque country. He also of course took up more universal themes as in the Walt Disney fantasy. Predominantly however Guridi was a music poet of this wildly independent North Iberian region.

The Diez Melodias Vascas span many moods and moments from a folksiness part-Grainger, part-Canteloube (Narrativa) to the murmur of a sad dream (Amorosa) to the pavane of Religiosa with its well captured surge of sound and Russian or Armenian quality to the antique Handelian Danza. Then comes the Gum-Suckers March of De Ronda and the evocation of misty views across the mountains in Elegiaca. Beautifully done by the Bilbao orchestra though audio-technically not on a par with the clarity of the premium price Claves recording.

So The Boys Sing is marked out by its reedy and guttural lack of sophistication, its innocence and sweetness although this is offset by some grandly thunderous statements by full orchestra (3.46). The children mourn the loss of one of their friends and the passing of ‘the little white coffin’. This work has much the same beguilingly unsophisticated sense as Prokofiev's Winter Bonfires suite

The Don Quixote piece was the only orchestral work he produced while at work on his grand opera Amaya (superbly recorded on Marco Polo and reviewed on this site). Here there is magnificent brass playing and a sheer brilliance learnt from the Rimskian method.

In a Phoenician Vessel starts with a macho brass fanfare. The music tells the tale of Telemachus the son of Odysseus. The sea plays a central role as it does in the life of the Basque people both as sustainer and as threat. A sometimes hesitant romantic atmosphere is very well sustained.

The Early Cock Is Crowing is a rapturously lovely piece with a sighing 'tail' sequence rather like the sighing in the sails of the Phoenicians’ vessel. The work ends in a glistening quiet conjured by the violins.

The only thing I lament about this reasonably well filled and finely executed disc is the continuing absence of Guridi's Sinfonia Pirenaica. Which company will be first to offer this intriguing work? Surely a boina of honour awaits the company that achieves the world premiere recording of that work. Guridi enthusiasts, even those with the Claves CD or with the now deleted ‘Musiques Basques’ (7243 5 56876 2 3) or vintage Arambarri-conducted EMI Classics CDs will need this disc because the choral works are not otherwise available.

Rob Barnett

see also review by Paul Shoemaker


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