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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Jesús GURIDI (1886 - 1961)
Diez melodías vascas, (1941) [22.40]
Así cantan los chicos (1934) [13.34]
Una aventura de Don Quijote (1916) [11.07]
En el barco fenicio (1927) [14.26]
Canta el gallo tempranero (1942) [3.38]
Isabel Álvarez, soprano
Bilbao Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of the Bilbao Conservatory/Juan José Mena
Notes in English, Castellano, and Deutsch. Castilian/English text of Así cantan.
Recorded Euskalduna Concert Hall, Bilbao, Spain, 30 June 2000
NAXOS 8.557110 [65.25]


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The Ten Basque Melodies is regarded as Guridi’s masterpiece. It is more than an agreeable orchestral setting of folk tunes, but could be heard as a ten movement suite or symphony, sometimes reminiscent of Rodrigo in its eastern Iberian gaiety and lyrical tenderness. In other ways it sounds like one of the Respighi Ancient Airs and Dances Suites, with the brief movements, the characteristic modal texture of the tunes which brings a feeling of nostalgia, and the brilliant orchestration. At moments we hear the same sense of oppressed nationalist feeling that is found in Smetana and early Sibelius.

Guridi was choirmaster of the Choral Society before he was appointed organ teacher at the Madrid Conservatory, noted for his skill in improvisation. Later he became director of the Conservatory and was always very interested in classical themes and structures and did not limit himself to Basque cultural sources or sounds. In a Phoenician Boat is based on the story of Telemachus, son of Odysseus. Here we have again the typical brilliant orchestration, intricate counterpoint, martial fanfares and rhythms and classical dramatic structure, although the opening passages are more reminiscent of Rachmaninov’s Isle of the Dead.

What the Boys Are Singing is something of a chamber opera for children’s chorus, a brief scene where the children pause in their games to sing about a playmate who died, but then they resume their joyful playing. Besides the influences mentioned above we hear a little Bizet here and there. The notes contain the text and translation only of this work, but texts are not included for any of the other works in any language.

Don Quixote’s Adventure is a tone poem with a vivid sense of program although no scenario is given, and was written at a time when Guridi was composing opera. The sound is again somewhere between Smetana and Respighi, with a strong sense of operatic stage drama. One can almost see singing characters moving on stage, and one of the big themes is the inversion of the Hussite hymn from Smetana’s Blaník.

The Cock Sings in the Morning is a wistful, lyrical soprano song accompanied by quiet strings and winds, with no attempt at musical depiction of chickens. With no text, I had no clue as to what the cock had on his mind.

I live in an area with a significant Basque minority, and I am surprised not to see any use of the Basque language in this release with its appeal to Basque cultural identity.

Paul Shoemaker



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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