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Vicente PRADAL (b. 1957)
El Diván del Tamarit (2007)
Gacela del amor imprevisto (vals)
Gacela de la raíz amarga (rumba)
Gacela del recuerdo del amor (canción)
Casida del herido por el agua (balada)
¡Ay, voz secreta del amor oscuro! (java)
Gacela del mercado matutino (tangos)
Gacela del amor desesperado (jaleo)
Casida del llanto y Casida de la mujer tendida (libre y soleá)
Casida de la muchacha dorada (jaleo)
Casida de los ramos (siguiriya)
Gacela del niño muerto (poema y cante)
Vicente Pradal (voice); Servane Solana (voice); Alberto García (voice); Rafael Pradal (piano); Emmanuel Joussemet (cello); Hélène Arntzen (saxophone); Renaud García-Fons (double-bass); Edouard Coquard (percussion); Paloma Pradal (voice); Luis Rigou (kena)
Studio Malambo, Bois-Colombes, 10-16 January, 4-12, 19 February 2008. DDD
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5190332 [44:36]
Experience Classicsonline

El Divan del Tamarit is the third of Vicente Pradal's cycles of songs setting the Andalusian poet, painter, pianist and composer Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936). The others are again Lorca-based: Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías, 1999 and Romancero Gitano, 2004; both on Virgin Classics. These titles and the poems set relate to Lorca’s collections of poetry with each of these titles: 1928 (Romancero Gitano), 1935 (Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías), 1936 (El Divan del Tamarit).
In his notes to this collection Pradal speaks of bringing out the melodies which Lorca's poems give off. "Refined, mysterious, sensual, sorrowful, solitary and profound ... Federico here 'draws hope from hopelessness itself.'”  
The music is a fusion of the 1980s cooling sophisticated jazz, muezzins and minarets and dark Iberian sensuality. The voices (Vicente Pradal, Alberto Garcia, Servane Solana) are hoarse with relished emotion but vary the tone and dynamics. The eleven songs (one in two tracks) are sung in Lorca's - and Pradal’s - original Spanish. Imagine an intimately close popular balance, three voices and a varied combination of instruments drawn from cello, double-bass, piano, saxophone and percussion.  With the exception of one poem all are either 'Gacelas' or Casidas' - Moorish Andalusian poetic forms. You may know of these from classical sources such as the Five Ghazals of Hafiz as set by Bantock - but not yet recorded. Qasidas are referred to in Flecker's play Hassan to which Delius provided the music. Pradal’s cycle has a real Moorish tang: that characteristic North African swaying trill. For many Europeans this still sounds exotic and will be familiar from the work of de Falla, Rodrigo and Nin. You can hear it in the saxophone solos in Casida de la muchacha dorada where the piano's liquid trills evoke the cooling fountains and shaded courtyards of the Palaces of Granada. Hear it also in the shudderingly wonderful nasal melisma of Alberto Garcia in Casida de los ramos. The singing by all three is resinous and the exact opposite of bland. The instrumental lines are full of interest; one examples is the high-cycling harmonics of Gacela del niño muerto.
On the downside this disc runs to only 44:36 yet there is a vibrant harvest in the inner worlds to which it admits the listener. Lorca’s inscapes glower back with an unwavering stare that reaches across the centuries.
A pity that the translation in the booklet is from Spanish to French and not also to English and German. The booklet is however well done and the size of the print sensibly chosen.
If you enjoy ethnic jazz, Berio's Folk-songs, Capercaillie or Granuaile then you should have much to enjoy here if you also respond to flamenco and the Hispanic tradition.
Rob Barnett


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