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The Three-Cornered Hat: Spanish Fantasies
Fernando OBRADORS (1897-1945)
Chiquitita la novia (The Bride is Tiny) (arr. Kevin Power) [2:51]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Five Tonadillas (arr. Julian Byzantine) [7:59]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
The Three-Cornered Hat - Concert Suite (arr. Paul Dean) [12:05]
Luis de MILÁN (c.1500-c.1561)
Two Romances [5:54]
Joaqin RODRIGO (1901-1989)
Liricas castellanas [6:07]
Gerard BROPHY (b. 1953)
Verlaine Songs [21:37]
Shaun RIGNEY (b. 1960)
Chamber Concerto [14:07]
Southern Cross Soloists: (Margaret Schindler (soprano); Tania Frazer (oboe); Paul Dean (clarinet); Leesa Dean (bassoon); Peter Luff (horn); Kevin Power (piano)); Slava Grigoryan (guitar)
rec. Iwaki Auditorium, Melbourne, 2007
ABC CLASSICS 476 6887 [70:50]
Experience Classicsonline

This CD is a real treat. It contains realisations of Spanish classics together with two contemporary works, arranged or composed especially for the musicians here represented. The Southern Cross Soloists are a Queensland-based group with a very distinctive combination of instruments (oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, piano and soprano). They are joined here by virtuoso guitarist Slava Grigoryan and they create a wonderful recital with a marvellous Spanish flavour.

Granados, Falla and Rodrigo are the more familiar names here. The Three-Cornered Hat suite is surprisingly successful in this arrangement. The syncopated strumming that features in each movement sounds transparent and exciting and immediately places the listener in the sunburnt world of Spanish passion and languor. The cor anglais soloist is called on to do all sorts of contortions in the Miller’s Dance, and the heavy chords that accompany his strutting are followed by playing of delicacy and precision. It is quite lovely and deserves to be heard by anyone who knows this music in other arrangements. The Granados Tonadillas are songs inspired by Zarzuela intermezzi. They hover around two minutes each but are distinctively different to one another. They are playful and light-hearted, until the melancholy lament of the Sorrowing Maja and each are sung with authentic colour by Margaret Schindler. She sounds entirely different in the 16th century Romances by Luis de Milan, something of a Spanish John Dowland. The first of these courtly songs displays controlled flirtation, while the second is a poignant dialogue between a courtly knight and a noble lady who has betrayed his love. Rodrigo’s Castilian Lyrics are love songs by an anonymous 15th century poet. The singing is very beautiful, as are the intrinsically Spanish melodies, poignant and searching in the songs of loss, playful and coy in the love songs. Obradors’ Chiquitita La Nova makes a great opener, full of flamenco-like melismas and a persistent Castilian rhythm.

There is nothing intrinsically Spanish in the last two works by contemporary Australian composers. The Verlaine songs are French poetry, densely allusive and pulsating with passion, something like the Rimbaud poems set in Les Illuminations. However, the instrumentation and note-setting places them in a firmly Spanish idiom, nowhere more so than in the astonishing guitar solo that opens the second song. Throughout the words are set with hypnotic beauty, the rhythms and passionate melodies conveying all the passion of the texts. No texts, but otherwise Rigney’s Chamber Concerto has similar melodic invention. The first movement (Prelude) has a prominent role for the guitar which gives it a similarly Spanish flavour, while the finale forms over a guitar ostinato that drives it forward playfully. The work was inspired by the birth of Rigney’s daughter and it carries all the passion for life that such an event produces in any parent.

I didn’t know what to expect from this disc but it left me really enchanted and excited by utterly dedicated playing of really fantastic music.

Simon Thompson

 

 
 


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