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Jesús GURIDI (1886–1961)
El Caserío (1926)
Vicente Sardinero (baritone) - Santi; Ana Rodrigo (soprano) - Ana Mari; Emilio Sánchez (tenor) - José Miguel; Felipe Nieto (tenor) - Chomín; Fernando Latorre (tenor) - Don Leoncio, Don Jesusito, Manú; Maria José Suárez (soprano) -  Eustasia, Inosensia.
Sociedad Coral de Bilbao/Gorka Sierra; Orquesta Sinfónica de Bilbao/Juan José Mena
rec. Conservatorio Jesús Guridi, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Alava, Spain, 10-23 August 2001. DDD
NAXOS 8.557632 [78:33]

 

Guridi’s “comedia lírica” El Caserío completed in 1926, actually a zarzuela, is the first of his several stage works composed on a libretto in Castilian. His first operatic works Mirentxu (1915) and Amaya (1920) actually used librettos in Basque, which suited their nationalistic subjects but also limited performances, even in Spain.

The story is set in an imaginary village in the Basque province of Biscay, in the early 20th century. Sasibill is the homestead (“caserío”) of the local mayor Santi and of his niece and nephew Ana Mari and José Miguel. With them, lives a labourer Chomín, while Manú and Eustasia live in the cider-house with their daughter Inosensia for whom Eustasia tries to find a good match. Santi hopes that José Miguel, who loves the good things of life, will marry Ana Maria, with whose mother Santi was secretly in love years ago. Santi and some of his old friends intrigue to have José Miguel realise that he is in fact in love with Ana Mari. As may be expected, all is well that ends well, as befits a zarzuela.

Each of the three acts consists of a number of arias, duos and ensembles; and ends with a developed finale in which everyone joins. There is also a good deal of spoken dialogue, not recorded here; but a fully detailed synopsis usefully makes up for the absence of the spoken sections and of the sung texts. What matters, as far as I am concerned, is the music which is very fine, colourful, richly melodic and eminently singable. This release is already the fourth disc of Guridi’s music released by Naxos. Moreover, a recording of Guridi’s national drama Amaya is still available on Marco Polo 8.225084-5 although I have not yet heard it. If you have already heard any of these records, you will know what to expect. The regional setting is appropriately evoked either by Basque folk songs or by folk-like tunes. This element is to be heard clearly in several sections of the score, such as Con el trébole y el toronjil (act I – track 5), Pello Josephe (act II – track 9) and Canción de los Versolaris (act II – track 14). There are also some very fine arias and duos, of which Santi’s Romance (act I track 6) is particularly fine; the music has some echoes of Puccini. As befits a zarzuela, the music is generally simple and straightforward, but never simplistic. It encompasses a wide range of moods according to the events occurring on stage, and thus alternates romance, tenderness, humour and overt jollity. It also has some fine orchestral interludes, such as the beautifully atmospheric prelude to act I and the prelude to act 2, as well as some excellent choruses.

All concerned obviously enjoy the music, and everyone sings and plays with conviction. Soloists are extremely good and some minor parts are very nicely done indeed. The part played by the Bilbao Choral Society is worthy of a special accolade.

In short, this is an attractive piece of music that clearly deserves to be heard. Those who already know Guridi’s music will need no further recommendation. I am sure that others who love, say, Rodrigo’s or Turina’s music will find much to enjoy here. I certainly did.

Hubert Culot

 

 

 


 



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