As with the Toldra-Casals-Montsalvatge disc from these forces
that I recently reviewed (review
this isn’t new. It was recorded at the end of 1997 and released
by Nimbus the following year. Still, it shouldn’t be overlooked
in the welter of releases and re-releases that continue to saturate
This time we go one better; there are four composers represented.
Turina’s Serenata was originally written for string quartet
between 1933 and 1935, and the string orchestra version followed
in 1943. It’s a light, enjoyable work that passes through incidents
adeptly, and with plenty of powerful dynamics. Talía from
Las Musas de Andalucía was written in 1942 for quartet
once again, but Gerard Claret, taking his cue from the composer,
has arranged it for orchestra. It’s a lissom little morsel,
two minutes in length, strongly redolent of pizzicato-imitating
Iberian guitar. Naturally the opportunity to present La Oracion
del Torero couldn’t and shouldn’t have been spurned. It’s
inevitably a work that draws the best from players, either in
quartet or chamber orchestra versions. The proud, extrovert
writing comes across well here.
Joan Manén was the leading Spanish violinist of his day, one
who toured internationally, and made the first ever recording
of the Beethoven violin concerto. It’s still not been reissued.
But he was also a composer, of operas as well as miniatures,
though it’s the latter we hear in this disc. There are seven
altogether. They range from a gentle, baroque-tinged Pensando
en los Clasicos to the light, lissom dance of the second
miniature. There’s a frolicsome gentility to his Wateau (oddly
spelt with one‘t’), a rococo charm and naughtiness, that suggests
an awareness of the painter’s work beyond the merely gestural
— if indeed it is the painter he’s invoking. The Romanza
is very warmly done, and strangely suggests an awareness of
Mahler. To end things we have a sinewy fugue.
Rodrigo’s brief Cançoneta is a very early piece but touchingly
reminds us that he was still alive at the time of recording.
It may seem redundant now to include this two and a half minute
piece, but its inclusion at the time was a fine gesture.
Monocromies, composed by Ricard Lamote de Grignon around
1956, and heard in this world premiere recording, is a rather
neo-classical piece, with clear, clean textures, a wistful and
rather lovely slow movement, and an Iberian dance finale with
tautly rhythmic writing. It’s a fresh and appealing, approachable
piece, deserving of this fine performance.
It ends a well worked programme. Maybe we should have expected
more, because at 56 minutes there was certainly room for it.
More Manén, maybe. Some other time?