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CD: Crotchet


Matilde SALVADOR (1918-2007)
Cinc cançons de Bres (1982) [11:21]
Voces de otra orilla (Homenaje a la poesía femenina de América) (1946-51) [7:51]
Tres nanas (1947) [4:04]
Una enredadera (1956) [3:03]
El cazador
(1951) [1:51]
Vida garfio
(1951) [4:00]
¿En dónde tejemos la ronda?
(1952) [1:20]
Els asfòdels (1988) [19:24]
Isabel Monar (soprano), Mac McClure (piano)
rec. Estudis Albert Moraleda, Llerona, 26-27 October 2007
Notes in Spanish and English. Song texts provided (no translations).
COLUMNA MÚSICA 1CM0166 [52:49]
Experience Classicsonline

The music of Matilde Salvador has attracted little attention in Britain … and the same is true, I suspect, of most places beyond the borders of Spain. Even within Spain she is a composer whose regional affiliations are strong. Her best work – particularly for the voice – is of a high order and deserves to be much more widely known.
Salvador was born in Castelló de la Plana, on the Costa del Alzahar, capital city of the province of Castelló in the Comunidad Valenciana. Brought up in a cultured middle-class family, the young Salvador was encouraged to develop her talents in the arts, both musical and visual (some of her paintings on glass can be seen in the Musée d’Art Naïf Max Fourny in Paris and in the Museo Internacional de Arte Naif Manuel Moral at Jaén in Spain). As a girl she studied piano and guitar, her teachers including Joaquina Segarra (to whom she was related). She studied composition with Vicente Asencio, who she later married. Her output includes operas, such as La filla del Rei Barbut (1943) and Vinatea (1973), this last being produced at the Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona in 1974, becoming, I believe, the first female-composed opera ever performed there. She also wrote some fine ballet music, notably El segoviano esquivo (1953) and El ruiseñor y la rosa (1958). Much honoured and long regarded as a major presence in Valencian music, Salvador died on October 5, 2007.
At the centre of Salvador’s oeuvre is a considerable body of songs, which she began writing and publishing as early as 1935. This necessarily small selection of Salvador’s songs is especially welcome, performed with commitment and sympathy, well recorded, and illustrative of something – at least – of her range of her work in this genre. The constantly fresh melodic invention, the deceptive simplicity of accompaniment, the sheer naturalness of sound are all a delight; anyone with a taste for modern Spanish song will surely get a great deal of pleasure from this disc. The best of these songs deserve a place alongside those of, say, Turina, Mompou, Rodrigo, Montsalvatge and de Falla.
Salvador’s choice of texts is always interesting and part of the key to her responsiveness to verbal meaning and her respect for the words she sets. The first cycle here, Cinc cançons de Bres, sets texts by Bernat Artola, a poet actually born (in 1904) in the composer’s hometown of Castellón de la Plana, and a personal friend of the composer; several individual songs, and the cycle Tres nanas, set words by the Uruguayan poet Juana di Ibarbourou (1892-1979), with whose unstrident feminist concerns the composer was clearly in sympathy. In Voces de otra otilla, as its title and subtitle suggest, Salvador is also concerned with texts written by Spanish speaking woman from South America. Another poem by Ibarbourou is included here, along with two by Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957), the Chilean poet and feminist who was the first Latin American winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (in 1945) and one by the Uruguayan / Argentinean poet Alfonsina Storni (1941-2008). All her choices confirm the intelligence and the sense of personal appropriateness which seems almost always to have conditioned Salvador’s selection of texts for setting. Of particular interest are the texts set in Els Asfòdels, poems by Rafel Caria, one of that community of Catalan speakers which still survives in Alghero (l’Aguer, to give it its Catalan name) in north-western Sardinia. It is a shame that all of these texts are printed only in their originals.
But there is little else with which one might quibble. The limpid beauty of so much of Salvador’s writing is everywhere delightful and frequently moving. Isabel Monar’s pleasant and variously toned voice, full of attractive colours, displays her understanding of Salvador’s musical idiom throughout along with her own thoughtful understanding of the texts she is singing. American-born pianist Mac McClure has lived and worked in Spain since the 1980s and is a consummate accompanist in material such as this.
Glyn Pursglove


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