Roberto GERHARD (1896-1970)

Tonades of the XVII and XVIII centuries
Seguidillas. (El canapé) - J.Palomino [3:04]
¿De dónde venís, amore? (Silva de Sirenas) - E. de Valderrábano [2:16]
Cantilena vulgar (De musica libri septem) -F. de Salina [1:00]
Canción muy popularizada (De musica libri septem) - F. de Salina [0:42]
Ay qué mal - F. Berxés [3:39]
Bosque Frondoso - A. Literes [3:11]
Bailete - P.M. Correa [2:08]
Yo te quiero, Gileta - S. Durón [3:24]
Cantarcillo (De musica libri septem) - F. de Salinas [1:45]
Romancillo (De musica libri septem) - F. de Salinas [1:27]
Tirana del Zarandilla (Los novios y la maja) - P.E. Grimau [2:07]
Pasacalle (No piense Menguilla) - J. Marín [2:29]
El cordero perdido - B. de Laserna [1:43]
Los serrano inocentes - B. de Laserna [2:01]
Buscaba el amor - J. de Navas [2:44]
El remedio del gato - G. Ferrer [2:35]
Un oficial de Guerra - V. Galván [3:52]
Nancy Fabiola Herrera (mezzo)
Mac McClure (piano)
rec. Studio Albert Moraleda, Llerona, November 2009
Texts and translations included
COLUMNA MÚSICA 1CM0249 [40:08]

Roberto Gerhard – here called Robert by Columna Música (and indeed his autograph, reproduced throughout the booklet and disc itself is thus Anglicised) - studied amongst others with Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922). Pedrell was a composer, musicologist and editor who brought out volumes dedicated to Spanish music of the Golden Age; Victoria and Morales were two of the most significant, but he also edited Seventeenth and Eighteenth century songs. Between 1918 and 1922 his Cancionero musical popular español documented his country’s musical heritage and also made it more generally available to composers, performers and listeners alike.

Gerhard took a number of these pieces and realized them. His autographs are in the University of Cambridge library, and whilst they are undated they ‘seem to date from the composer’s early career’ as a footnote in the booklet notes suggests. This would make sense as it tallies with his work in the 1920s. In the main the works are Tonadillas, essentially a song performed between the acts of a play, though it subsequently developed beyond that limited role. Gerhard clearly took pleasure in his realizations of this source material and his piano writing covers quite a range, being sometimes quite conventional but also quite spicy. These are all first-ever recordings.

Gerhard responds to the charm of Cantilena vulgar – a compressed folk ballad – and casts rather pertly knowing piano writing underneath the lyrics of Canción muy popularizada, one of his most winning settings. Bosque Frondoso is a more florid, indeed Venetian and theatrical setting, to which Gerhard responds appropriately, and even when his realizations are at their simplest – and it’s difficult to gauge just how much or how little he has realized – one always senses a witty mind at work, enlivening these songs. Bailete for instance is a skittish Gigue whilst Cantarcillo is pithy. In Romancillo the piano writing is rhythmically lithe, the harmonies as modern as to be found anywhere in this selection. Here one feels Aria Antiche nestling against relative modernity to produce a new minted language. The capricious piano writing and more strenuous vocal line in El cordero perdido shows other avenues open to the transcriber. Los serrano inocentes is a more ‘authentic’ sounding piece of work, and far more conventional, though still attractive.

Nancy Fabiola Herrera is the excellent mezzo, who encompasses moods and textures with resilient tone and sure musical instinct. Mac McClure is a Columna Música regular whose work I have praised before and once again he’s a most idiomatic and supportive colleague. The recording is finely judged. This is an interesting and often rewarding, albeit short, footnote to the world of Gerhard Studies.

Jonathan Woolf

Interesting and often rewarding.