An overpowering bass
emphasis occasionally clouds the otherwise
fine focus of this classic coupling.
However it has strengths and these are
further cemented by the Spanish artists
Amor Brujo is
here given in the 1924 version of the
suite. Aside from the bass dominance
the music is volatile and temperamental
to perfection though Alicia Nafé
sounds both imposing as well as fallibly
tremulous. The Spanish trumpets are
not perhaps as spot-on in the sharply
accented fanfares of tr.7 but are nevertheless
very enjoyable. The Magic Circle
sounds deeply indebted to Ravel and
specifically to Ma mère l'oye
and it is done with real poetry.
The pizzicato figures in Midnight
are done with more tang than I have
previously heard as are the stabbing
violins in The Song of the Will o'
the Wisp. This is clearly a most
thoughtful interpretation. Pantomime
is one of the most tender and beautiful
moments in all music. Here however it
is given a rather pushed and dry-eyed
steer. The white minarets are suggested
in Dance of the Game of Love.
In the finale Bells of Dawn Nafé
is outstanding with the emotion breaking
through in her voice and that gift of
a naturally-breathing melody nicely
weighed and released by Valdes. A mixed
series of impressions then but the Suite
El Sombrero has
the brass recessed but the massed castanets
and the men's shouts of ‘Oy! Oy! Oy!
Oy!’ resound ringingly in our ears.
Also the vernal mezzo of Maria Jose
Martos is like a breath of fresh air.
I hope to hear more of her singing in
the future. The glinting dance of The
Grapes is well brought off. The
light-as-air feyness of The Neighbours'
Dance is also very well done. The
crowd-scene triumphalism of the final
Jota also works brilliantly. It
is alive with the raucous textures of
so many instruments and with the percussion
providing glittering highlights.
Tracking is bounteously
generous: thirteen for El Amor and
eight for El Sombrero.
The CD is rounded out
with a mobile and eager, indeed ultimately
breathless, Danza from La
Supportive liner notes
by Graham Wade round out this, the latest
in Naxos's adventurous ‘Spanish Classics’
Good versions though
not the very best. For that you need
to seek out the recordings made by Raphael
Frühbeck de Burgos in the 1960s.