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Francisco ESCUDERO (b.1912)
El sueño de un Bailarín (Poema coreográfico) (1944) [12:30]
Concierto vasco para piano y orquesta (1946) [32:07] *
Concierto para violoncello y orquesta (1971) [22:40]**
Sinfonía Sacra (1972) [27:59]
Joan Bautista (Oratorio) (1987) [30:58]***
Aranzazu (Poema sinfónico) (1955) [17:55]
Marta Zabaleta (piano) *; Asier Polo (cello) **; Angel Pazos (tenor) ***;
Coral Andra Mari ***; Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa/Arturo Tamayo,
rec. San Sebastian, 3-12 September 2001. DDD
Basque Music - Volume 5
CLAVES CD 50-2110/11 [67:07 + 77:07]

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Tomás GARBIZU (1901-1989)
Misa Papa Juan XXIII (Misa Ecuménica) for choir and orchestra (1962-63) [32:47]***
Ave Maria for soprano and orchestra [3:46]*
Cinco canciones vascas for soprano and orchestra [20:35]*
Un grano de trigo, por un granito de oro («A grain of wheat for a nugget of gold») for voice and orchestra [4:36]*
Final for harp, organ and orchestra (1982) [4:30]**
Olatz Saitua (soprano)*; Xavier de Maistre (harp)**; Esteban Elizondo (organ)**
Orfeón Donostiarra/José Antonio Sainz Alfaro***
Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa/Cristian Mandeal
rec. Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa Concert Hall, San Sebastian, 8-17 June 2004. DDD
world premiere recordings
Basque Music - Volume 8
CLAVES CD 50-2413 [66:30]

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Luis de PABLO (b. 1930)
Danzas Secretas - for harp and orchestra (Escondida; Inmovil; Oscura; Absorta) (2007) [26:10]
Frondoso Misterio - Cello Concerto (2001-02) [31:26]
Frédérique Cambreling (harp); Asier Polo (cello)
Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa/Arturo Tamayo
rec. San Sebastian, 2-5 April 2008. DDD
Basque Music - Volume 11
CLAVES CD 50-2817 [55:29]
Experience Classicsonline

Basque Music Collection - Volume 5: Francisco Escudero
The Basque-born composer Francisco Escudero, a great admirer of Ravel, studied in Paris. He was born in San Sebastian on 13 August 1912 and studied at that city’s Conservatoire. His next academic stage involved a move to Madrid supported by bursaries from the regional government of Guipuzcoa. Madrid’s Royal Academy supported Escudero in studying with Paul Dukas and Paul le Flem in Paris. Later still he worked on conducting technique with Albert Wolff in Munich.

In the present set two tone poems flank a symphony, two concertos and an oratorio. El sueño de un Bailarín is subtitled Poema coreográfico. It is his earliest work in the set and its exuberance reeks of Florent Schmitt and his Salome music. A couple of years later Escudero delivered the glitter and sparkle of his piano concerto - the Concierto vasco para piano y orquesta. The display elements are off-set by the gentle middle movement. The Cello Concerto is from a quarter century later. The language now is quite acerbic, the mode of expression succinct. Brilliance is still there but it is accommodated among a measure more dissonance than the works of the 1940s delivered. On the second CD we hear the Sinfonia sacra which continues the line of dissonance. This is a work carrying the burden of scorching anguish. As such it is at times reminiscent of Penderecki in its rasping engagement with conflict. The Finale (crucifixion) is memorable music of great beauty and ultimately of peace. The even later oratorio Joan Bautista continues the dissonance but adds Orff to the list of influences. .The tone poem Aranzazu is more approachable and harks back the Escudero’s idiom of the 1940s.

Volume 8 - Tomás Garbizu
Tomás Garbizu Salaberría was born 12 September 1901 in San Sebastian and died in the same city on 27 November 1989. He had taught organ there for some three decades. Garbizu left behind a prolific collection of works: a great deal of sacred and choral music, songs, organ music, oratorios and zarzuelas. The works featured here were edited especially for this recording by composer Tomás Aragües. 

The Misa Papa Juan XXIII (Misa Ecumenica) is for choir and orchestra. It is the most substantial work on the disc. There are six segments: Kyrie; Gloria; Credo; Sanctus; Benedictus; Agnus. The opening may fool you into believing that Garbizu will stick within the Fauré tradition but he pushes out further. The style of writing is not that far removed from the mainstream tonal English choral tradition. It is devotional but not without emotion and the style fits well alongside the work of Howells (Missa Sabrinensis and Hymnus Paradisi), Dyson (Quo Vadis), Walton (Te Deum) and Delius (A Mass of Life). The other composer I thought of was Paul Paray in his Joan of Arc Mass. In the Credo and the Benedictus Garbizu develops a joyously swinging march that suggests an affection for the ruddy-cheeked choral writing of Guridi in his Así cantan los chicos (Naxos 8.557110) and Eusko Irudiak (Claves CD 50-9709).

This Ave Maria for soprano and orchestra is one of numerous sacred compositions by Garbizu. By contrast with the Misa Papa Juan XXIII this setting leans towards the opera house - even towards operetta and specifically to Lehár. The soprano here, Olatz Saitua, has a voice of operatic stamp. She is tremulous across the long-held high lines demanded of her by the composer although this is not apparent from the other songs here. She leads us out of the ‘church’ and into the countryside for the Cinco Canciones Vascas. These are simple and usually tender songs with tunes that often sound disarmingly familiar. They drift once again towards the finest writing for operetta; balm-filled but not strongly memorable. Only the last of the five songs, Ama begira zazu is lively; redolent in that case alone of the exuberance of Canteloube’s Auvergnat works. The disc presents the world premiere of Un Grano di Trigo por un granito de oro (‘A grain of a wheat for a nugget of gold’). This is a setting of words by Rabindranath Tagore and is much more serious with a curve towards Berg but only in the orchestral writing. It seems there are many more songs by Garbizu in both Basque and Spanish. They are worth watching out for. Certainly the gauzy delicacy, sophistication and Ravelian poetry of the Tagore setting is not to be missed; more a scena than a simple song. 
The blaze of colour that is Final was well chosen to end the disc. It is a brilliant piece which once again has plenty of nostalgic tenderness as well as a grandly dramatic right-hook delivered through brass and organ. Mind you the organ also glitters. At the close magniloquent Hispanic gestures are set against a fine aspiring theme, rising Rodrigo-like, for the massed strings.

As ever with this series the booklet for this disc is extensive, well-presented, thorough - although I could have done with dates for all of the works here. It is translated from Basque into fluent English as well as Spanish, French and German.

For the present, collectors now have the pleasure of adding this music to their listening stock. Many tastes are catered for. Lovers of noble choral-orchestral music will need the Misa Papa Juan XXIII. The songs are sentimental for the most part although the Tagore setting is of a different order altogether. Lastly if you thirst for Iberian orchestral brilliance then you should hear the Garbizu’s Final.

Volume 11 - Luis de Pablo
As if to confirm the dramatic variety of Basque music here is this disc of two concertos by Luis de Pablo. A prolific composer he has written three symphonies (though not labelled as such), five choral symphonic dramas, five operas, lots of chamber music and concertos for piano (3), violin, guitar, saxophone and flute. He founded the first Spanish centre for electronic music and has held distinguished academic posts in Spain, Italy, France and Canada. He has championed new music and has put his shoulder and commitment to the music of Stuckenschmidt and Webern.

His Danzas Secretas is in four movements and is not designated a concerto. It is performed here by the harpist who introduced it to the world in Bilbao on 31 March 2008. It is scored with pellucid transparency - no smear, no haze, everything etched with a fine blade. The orchestra is used with minimalist craftsmanship as one might expect from an advocate of Webern. It is a work in which the two protagonists are in thoughtful competition in allowing the other to suggest ideas and limbs of discovery. After a hovering thoughtful Escondida comes a slow dissonant sunrise of an Inmovil. The lucid, biting and ruthless Oscura third movement is followed by the makes dreamy play of the harp's liquid arpeggiation. Dissonantly impressionistic stuff.

The Cello Concerto Frondoso Misterio has more about it that is mobile and forwardly projected. The title relates to a metaphor for death. It is a commission by the Madrid Symphony Orchestra and arose at the instigation of Asier Polo - the soloist here - for the orchestra's centennial. It is in seven shortish movements. The furious Deciso is succeeded by a pitter-pat irritable little Lesto and a dreamy chilly Bergian Intermezzo. The Elegia has the cello playing its most soulful character to the hilt which becomes grim and blacker in mood in the Ostinato with its dank orchestral piano and brass contributions. The splenetic Riassunto is followed by a singingly soulful Commiato in which the soloist reaches out yearningly to the listener.

Let me again put in a plea for a further recording of Guridi’s Sinfonia Pirenaica. I do hope that this work when issued will be coupled with other Basque symphonies.

Two authoritative and indeed brilliant recordings of recent works by one of Spain's most gifted exponents of dissonance.
Rob Barnett

Authoritative and brilliant ... one of Spain's most gifted exponents of dissonance. ... see Full Review 

BASQUE MUSIC SERIES ON CLAVES
Vol. 1 CD 50-9709 Guridi
Vol. 2 CD 50-9814 Usandizaga
Vol. 3 CD 50-2001 Arambarri
Vol. 4 CD 50-2007 Isasi
Vol. 5 CD 50-2110/11 Escudero - here
Vol. 6 CD 50-2205 Sorozábal
Vol. 7 CD 50-2305 Donostia
Vol. 8 CD 50-2413 Garbizu - here
Vol. 9 CD 50-2517/18 Madina
Vol. 10 CD 50-2614 Arriaga
Vol. 11 CD 50-2817 de Pablo - here
Sampler Sounds of the Basque Country
Ravel Piano Concertos (Achucarro) - CD-50-2101 

 


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