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Antonio JOSE (Antonio José Martinez Palacios) (1902-1936)
Sinfonia castellana (Castilian Symphony) (1924) [28:33]
El mozo de mulas (The Muleteer) (Suite) (1936) [8:44]
Evocaciones (Cuadros de danza campesinos) (1926, 1928) [6:48]
Marcha para soldados de plomo (March of the Lead Soldiers) (orch. Alejandro Yagüe) (1931) [3:13]
Suite ingenua for piano and strings (1931) [10:13]
Alberto Rosado (piano)
Castile and León Symphony Orchestra/Alejandro Posada
rec. Teatro Lope de Vega, Valladolid, Spain 16-19 July 2003
NAXOS 8.557634 [57:30]
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Antonio José Martinez Palacios was known as Antonio José in the musical world. Until recently his music has made little headway outside Spain and little inside. He was born in Burgos outside the ambit of the major cultural centres such as Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona. He felt the magnetic pull of French voices. Unlike the Basque Isasi his sympathies were with de Falla and Paris rather than with Berlin and Vienna. Ravel and Debussy are luxurious voices within his four movement Sinfonia castellana and so is nationalism through Castilian folk music. The symphony is evocative, mysterious, and diaphanous yet not as dense or libidinously sensuous as Szymanowski or Griffes. There is another voice there too; Rachmaninov, especially in the third movement. The folk strata are to the fore in the pipe, tabor and saint day processional splendour of the Danza burgalesa: a touch of Respighi - a dab of Canteloube. The orchestra are enthusiastic and aim high however I can imagine a more precise and polished version.

Jose worked for may years on El mozo de mulas - his major operatic project based on chapter 43, Part I, Don Quixote. Tragically the opera remained unorchestrated when he was killed as a combatant in the Spanish Civil War. This work was completed in 1992 by Alejandro Yagüe. The prelude and popular dance were complete and in full score in 1934. The prelude is a languid aubade. The popular dance is a rather exuberant undomesticated effort sounding somewhat like de Falla but with touches of Sibelius and even Poulenc.

The Evocaciones are presented here in a single track. The suite was first presented in Bilbao conducted by Vladimir Golschmann. Again the orchestration is lapidary with certain gorgeous overtones which might in another context remind us of Ippolitov-Ivanovís Caucasian Sketches and Borodinís In the Steppes of Central Asia. Here is a joyous cortege heard at first distantly then closing with the listener and finally receding into a misty distance.

The March of the Lead Soldiers was orchestrated by Alejandro Yagüe in 1988. The notes suggest that it is meant to be satirical and true enough there is the occasional wink from the composer however he cannot resist the poetic subtleties. The outer movements of the Suite Ingenua have the vernal innocence of Baxís Springtime in Sussex but with an Iberian accent and a touch more neo-classicism than we find in the rest of the disc.

Itís rather a pity that this music was never discovered by Eugene Goossens or Leopold Stokowski. If it had it might have stood some chance of travelling. At least we can now hear it in sympathetic interpretations and come to our own conclusions.

If you are up for engaging nationalist flavoured music with impressionist leanings and sympathies paralleling those of Frederico de Freitas, Canteloube, de Falla and Ravel then look no further.

Rob Barnett


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