Eduard TOLDRÀ (1895-1962)
Vistes al mar (1921) [16:03]
Quartet in C minor ‘Per l’art’ (1914) [20:44]
Pau (Pablo) CASALS (1876-1973)
Sant Martí del Canigó (Sardana) (1947) [6:16]
Xavier MONTSALVATGE (1911-2002)
Concertino 1 + 13 (1975) [11:59]
Tres postals; il luminades (1990) [8:33]
Orquestra National de Cambra d’Andorra/Gerard Claret (concertino-director)
NIMBUS NI 5482 [64:08]
See also review by Rob Barnett
Catalonia is the focus of this disc, which is not a new one by the way. It promotes the music of Toldrà – whose extensive two-disc song collection I recently reviewed with enthusiasm - Casals, and Montsalvatge, the last named of whom was still very much alive when the recordings were made.
Toldrà was a scion of music in Barcelona. Successively violinist – he recorded on 78s – composer and conductor, his is a worthy name. Vistes al mar (Views of the Sea) was composed in 1921 and takes as its point of inspiration three poems by Joan Maragall: Toldrà was a really acute setter of contemporary Catalan poetry and had a refined ear for word setting. And, by analogy, the poetic origins of these orchestral pieces produce comparable results. This is lively, pleasurable music, though not quite as personal as his songs. The central slow panel is especially warm with a nicely introspective air, whilst the finale is frolicsome and highly entertaining. The lean string tone of the Orquestra National de Cambra d’Andorra adds its own gloss. The Quartet, subtitled ‘Per l’art’, is an apprentice work from 1914 but has been arranged by Gerard Claret, first violin and director of the orchestra (or ‘concertino-director’ as the notes have it) for a full complement of strings. It’s solidly crafted and very anachronistic, and could easily have been written in 1850. The best movements are the two inner ones, the Scherzo and slow movement, which are characterful and show a real gift for character, the lovely Andante sostenuto in particular.
Casals is represented by Sant Martí del Canigó, his 1947 Sardana, written in exile. Richly voiced and compact, it’s effusive and almost melancholy in equal measure, seriousness alongside the dance. Montsalvatge’s Concertino 1 + 13 was written in 1975 and here Claret comes to the fore as soloist. It’s an angular work, bearing traces of the influence of Stravinsky at moments. The central movement is quite jazzy, especially in the bass pizzicatos, a trilling solo line and hints of March rhythms. The finale is brisk, avuncular and energetic. Much less astringent, indeed full of a suffusing lyric intensity, are the Tres postals; il luminades (Three Illuminated Postcards). They have a rich folk influence and each is named after a place. New York, the last of the three postcards, for instance, is again a jazzy number also full of opulent romance and striking Rite of Spring rhythms.
The performances are certainly engaging, though I would have welcomed a greater weight of string tone. Never mind; this is unusual repertoire, in the main, and well worth getting to know.
Unusual repertoire, in the main, and well worth getting to know.