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
subtitled Poema coreográfico
. It is his earliest
work in the set and its exuberance reeks of Florent Schmitt and
music. A couple of years later Escudero delivered
the glitter and sparkle of his piano concerto - the Concierto
para piano y orquesta. The display elements are off-set
by the gentle middle movement. The Cello Concerto
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
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
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
) is for
choir and orchestra. It is the most substantial work on the disc.
There are six segments: Kyrie
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
and Hymnus Paradisi
), 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
develops a joyously swinging march that suggests an affection
for the ruddy-cheeked choral writing of Guridi in his Así cantan
(Naxos 8.557110) and Eusko Irudiak
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
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
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
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
has the cello playing its most soulful character
to the hilt which becomes grim and blacker in mood in the Ostinato
its dank orchestral piano and brass contributions. The splenetic Riassunto
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
. 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.
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
of the Basque Country
Concertos (Achucarro) - CD-50-2101