One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS



Don Quixote in Spanish Music
Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Ausencias de Dulcinea (1947-8) [12:24] 1
José García ROMÁN (b.1945)
La resurrección de Don Quijote (1993-4)
[16:45] 2

Francisco Asenjo BARBIERI (1823-1894)
Don Quijote (1861) [9:46] 3
Jorgé Fernández GUERRA (b.1952)
Tres momentos de Don Quichotte (2004-5) [18:06]
Gerardo GOMBAU (1906-1971)
Don Quijote velando las armas (1945) [9:11]
Orquesta y Coro de la Comminidad de Madrid/José Ramón Encinar, with  Lillian Moriani, Victoria Marchante, Celia Alcedo (soprano); María José Suárez (mezzo); Antonio José Lopez (baritone) 1;  Víctor Arriola (violin) 2; Fernando Cobo (tenor) 3.
rec. 13-22 July 2005, Sede de la Orquesta y Coro de la Communidad de Madrid, Hortaleza, Madrid
NAXOS 8.570260 [66:12]


Cervantes’ great novel is full of music. The shepherd Antonio sings a verse romance, accompanying himself on the rebeck; Cardenio sings a beautiful love song; Altisidora sings a love song to the accompaniment of the harp; and there are many others too. Don Quixote himself sings a song in reply to Altisidora, accompanying himself on the lute, in a “hoarse but not unmusical voice” (a performance which is brought to an end when a sack full of cats, with bells on their tails, is released from the room above!).

There is a fascinating passage in which Don Quixote considers the attractions of the pastoral life:

What a life we shall lead, friend Sancho! What a world of bagpipes shall we hear! What pipes of Zamora! What tambourets! What tabors! And what rebecks! And, if to all these different musics be added the albogues, we shall have almost all the pastoral instruments.

(Responding to Sancho’s enquiry, Quixote explains that ‘albogues’ are, in effect, cymbals, the name being, he explains, Moorish).

Jordi Savall, a couple of years ago, put together a marvellous 2 CD set, Don Quijote de la Mancha: Romances y Músicas (Alia Vox ASVA 984 3A+B), combining readings from the book with music of the time.

Later composers and musicians have not been slow to pay their tribute to – or simply to exploit – the novel. Operas based on Don Quixote, or episodes from it, abound. They include such eighteenth century works as Antonio Caldara’s Sancio Panza (1733), Telemann’s Don Quichotte der Löwenritter (1761), Salieri’s Don Chisciotte alle Nozze di Gamace (1770) and Dittersdorf’s Don Quixote der Zweyte (1779); nineteenth century works include Mercadante’s Don Chisciotte (1829) and Wilhelm Kienzl’s Don Quixote (1898); in modern times the list includes Massenet’s Don Quichotte (1910) and de Falla’s El Retablo de Maese Pedro (1923). If one added to all the operas, the musicals, the song settings (such as those by Ibert and Ravel), the orchestral works (eg. by Rubinstein, Strauss and Guridi) and the list would be very long indeed. Now, on this enterprising disc from Naxos we have the chance to get to know some Cervantes responses by five Spanish composers – a chance well worth taking, even if the music is variable in quality as well as stylistic predisposition.

The earliest piece here, Barbieri’s Don Quijote, was written for a commemoration of Cervantes in 1861 and was a contribution to a play written for the event by Ventura de la Vega. Its three short parts are made up of an attractively melodic setting for tenor and orchestra of the first stanza of some verses sung by Cardenio in Chapter 27 of Part I of Don Quixote; a bailete for orchestra, colourfully orchestrated; and a rather ponderous closing section for tenor, chorus and orchestra which is a hymn of praise to Cervantes himself (the booklet notes provide texts and translations of the words for the first and third sections). This is pleasant music, very much of its period, worth the hearing, if not necessarily demanding many rehearings.

We jump to 1945 for Gombau’s symphonic poem Don Quijote velando las armas (Don Quixote keeps vigil over his armour), is a stirring piece which is clearly in line of descent from Richard Strauss; grandeur (with touches of irony) alternates with tenderness. Since the booklet notes tell us that the piece is “programmatic in nature [and] sets out to portray specific episodes from the novel” it would have been nice to have been told what these were. Still, even without that information, this is an entertaining and musically rewarding work, one of the definite positives of this disc. It would be good to hear more of Gombau’s music.

Written just a year or two after Gombau’s work, Rodrigo’s Ausencias de Dulcinea (The Absence of Dulcinea) is a striking piece which contrives both to laugh at Don Quxote’s absurdity as a would-be lover of Dulcinea del Toboso and to register a certain compassion for his sufferings, so that, as in the novel itself, Quixote emerges with a kind of absurd dignity. Using the unusual forces of a bass/baritone soloist (here the excellent José Antonio López) and a chorus of four sopranos, with full orchestra, the work sets verses written in the sand by Quixote in Chapter 26 of Part I of the novel. The orchestral writing is colourful, the interplay of male voice with soprano chorus intriguing. A work definitely demanding – and rewarding – a good number of rehearings.

An altogether more modern soundworld is inhabited by José Garcia Román’s La resurrección de Don Quijote, written for string orchestra to a commission from the Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de Espana. A study in textures, characterised by insistent rhythmic patterns and some odd timbres, the work has some arresting passages but struggles to be more than the sum of its parts, for all its creation of a rather dreamlike mood.

Jorge Fernández Guerra’s Tres momentos de Don Quichotte was written to accompany a showing of Pabst’s 1933 film Don Quichotte. What we are offered here is three from twenty numbers written to accompany the film. They are entitled ‘Don Quixote’s first sally’, a moody adagio of suitably nocturnal ambience; ‘Attack on the windmills’, with evocations of Quixote on horseback; and ‘Don Quixote is reborn from the ashes’, of which the composer writes that it accompanies the epilogue to the film “which shows the burning of the book in reverse, a rebirth from the ashes”. Fernandez Guerra’s music is well made, but rather uniform in tempo and dynamics, so that it struggles to hold the listener’s interest throughout (it is the longest work on the disc) without the filmic images it was written to complement.

The works by Rodrigo and Gombau are particularly worth getting to know, but there is nothing here that doesn’t offer rewards of some sort. The work of the soloists, chorus and orchestra is exemplary, and Encinar shows that he deserves his growing reputation, on this well recorded disc.

Glyn Pursglove


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

(short month)

Orphic Moments

Metamorphoses Books I & II


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali

Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4

French Cello Concertos






Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.