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Vicente PRADAL (b.1957)
El Diván del Tamarit
Gacela del amor imprevisto [4:00]
Gacela de la raiz amarga [3:26]
Gacela del recuerdo del amor [4:03]
Casida del herido por el agua [5:04]
¡Ay, voz secreta del amor oscuro! [4:00]
Gacela del Mercado matutino [4:02]
Gacela del amor desesperado [3:09]
Casida del llanto y Casida de la mujer tendida [5:07]
Casida de la muchacha dorada [3:05]
Casida de los ramos [5:40]
Gacela del niño muerto [2:53]
Vicente Pradal (voice); Alberto García (voice); Servane Solana (voice); Paloma Pradal (voice); Rafeal Pradal (piano); Emmanuel Joussemet (cello); Hélène Arntzen (saxophones); Luis Rigou (kena); Renaud García-Fons (percussion)
rec. 10-16 January and 4-12 and 19 February, 2008, Studio Malambo, Bois-Colombes, France
Brief notes in Spanish, French, English and German.
Sung texts in Spanish and French.
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5190332 [44:36]


Experience Classicsonline

Vicente Pradal has written - and performed on - two previous albums which take their inspiration from Lorca: Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías and Romancero Gitano. Now the trilogy is completed by El Diván del Tamarit. This third album takes its title from Lorca’s poetic sequence written between 1931 and 1934, and published posthumously in 1940; Lorca having been murdered by Nationalist militia on 19 August 1936.

In the poems of his Diván del Tamarit Lorca meditates on love and death and the perceived inevitability of the interconnection of the two. He does this through imagery - and to a degree poetic forms - derived from the poetry of the Arab-Andalusian poets of earlier centuries. His ‘Divan’ - the word designates a collection of Arabic or Persian poetry, by a single author, arranged in a particular fashion – which Lorca makes no attempt to imitate - contains twelve poems. He gives these the title gacela - usually called a ghazal in English. To nine of them he gives the title quasida (the same term is used in English). It is the moods and themes of these oriental poems that Lorca imitates and intensifies more than their precise forms. For the most part, Lorca seems to use the title gacela when his lyric is most directly concerned with the experience of love, and that of quasida when his poem is more philosophical in emphasis – though this is not a hard and fast distinction.

Vicente Pradal’s connection with Lorca and his work goes even beyond his obvious admiration of it. Pradal is the great grandson of Don Antonio Rodriguez Espinosa, who was actually Lorca’s schoolteacher in Fuentevaqueros, the village some seventeen kilometres west of Granada in which the poet, dramatist, composer, pianist and visual artist was born.

Given that these are some of Lorca’s most vividly ‘oriental’ poems, Pradal’s settings here make surprisingly little use of explicitly eastern musical materials – nothing so pronounced as, for example, the Prologue which opens his version of the Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías: Lorca’s great elegy for a torero gored to death in the bull ring. Rather he uses essentially European forms such as the waltz (Gacela del amor imprevisto), specifically flamenco forms such as the jaleo (Casida de la muchacha dorada) and the siguiriya (Casida de los ramos) as well as ‘foreign’ forms such as the rumba (Gacela de la raiz amarga) and tango (Gacela del mercado matutino). All the music is given a flamenco flavour. Sometimes this is far more than a mere flavour. It is mingled with some jazz inflections and a dash of the Moorish.

Pradal’s musical forces here are not identical with those on the earlier albums, but the replacements generally acquit themselves well. Albert Garcia is a particularly fine vocalist and a number of Hélène Arntzen’s saxophone solos are especially memorable. Emmanuel Joussemet makes some striking contributions on the cello. In truth nobody lets the side down and the results are intriguing and enjoyable listening, in which the different voices and instruments are used in many different combinations.

Having said that, I don’t find this present CD quite as compelling as its two predecessors. Pradal’s music is eloquent and passionate, but doesn’t quite succeed in finding musical idioms fully expressive of the darkness of some of Lorca’s words and sentiments here, except perhaps in the very last track, ‘Gacela del niño muerto’ in which Albert Garcia’s voice is accompanied by cello alone.

This is poetry that speaks of how “He cerrado mi balcón, / porque no quiero oír el llanto / pero por detrás de los grises muros / no se oye otra cosa que el llanto” (I have closed my balcony window / because I do not wish to hear the weeping / but from behind the grey walls / nothing but weeping is heard”) and how “El niño herido gemía / con una corona de escarcha” (“the wounded child groaned / with a crown of white frost”). For all their skill and intensity, Pradal and his performers don’t quite find means to do full justice to the fierce and ominous ambiguities of Lorca’s verse. Perhaps it is asking the impossible to imagine that they or anybody else could quite do so.

If you don’t know this series of CDs, but want to investigate them, then Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías is probably the place to begin. But if you know the other two, you will surely also want to add El Diván del Tamarit to your collection.

Glyn Pursglove

see also Review by Rob Barnett




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