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A Musical Journey - Spain - A Musical Visit to Madrid, La Mancha and Córdoba
Chapters 1- 5 Madrid
Chapters 6 - 8 La Mancha, Belmonte Castle, landscape and windmills
Chapter 9 Córdoba, Alcazar gardens and landscape
Music by Emmanuel Chabrier España. Mikhail Glinka A Summer Night in Madrid. Jules Massenet Le Cid, Ballet interludes. Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov Capriccio espagnol
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Keith Clark - Naxos 8.550086
No recording dates
Director: G. Gachot
Cameraman: H. T. Aschwanden
Audio Format: DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1. PCM Stereo 2.0
Video Format: NTSC. Region 0. Colour. Aspect ratio 4:3
NAXOS 2.110308 [52.45] 

Experience Classicsonline

Of the opening five Chapters, three (nos. 1, 2 and 4) focus on Madrid at various times of the twenty-four hour cycle. Some views are from above, others at street level. As a capital city its architecture is varied and interesting, less so its traffic jams. However, the totality is to give a sense of a capital city of architectural character to go along, as in London, with modern high-rise development. The opening with a statue of Don Quixote on his horse, accompanied by his faithful squire Sancho Panza, on a donkey, reminds us where we are. The other two Chapters on Madrid home in on the city’s fountains (CH.5) and the El Retiro (CH.3). Particularly interesting to the British are the pictures of Palacio Cristal, located in the Retiro along with grandiose monuments to Alfonso II. The impressive glass construction was modelled on that in London, built to house the 1851 Great Exhibition, and tragically burnt down in 1936 after its removal and re-erection at Sydenham Hill. Seeing it is a reminder of what London lost.
The music of the opening Chapter is of Chabrier’s España. Like the rest of the music, and despite none of it being by Spanish composers, it does invoke a feeling of Spain. Glinka’s, Summer Night in Madrid, is an invitation to photography that is not resisted (CH.2) whilst the six short ballet pieces from Massenet’s Le Cid take us from Madrid to La Mancha. This is an historical region located on a plateau of central Spain south of Madrid. The photography whilst showing the town itself (CH.8) focuses particularly on the Belmonte Castle and surrounding landscape (CHs. 6 and 8). The castle itself became the property of Countess Eugenia who married Napoleon III of France, becoming Empress until the fall of the Third Empire following the siege of Paris in 1870. It’s a magnificent structure in an interesting region of Spain.
We conclude with a visit (CH.10) to Córdoba on the banks of a shallow Guadalquivir, doubtless filmed in the dry period. Much of the content, accompanied by Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, is concerned with the local industry of olive farming. The views of pollarded trees are somewhat excessive whilst those of the town all too brief. The harvesting of the olives, both modern and traditional, is interesting. The excellent, and more than usually extensive booklet notes, point out Córdoba’s long history that preceded it being a regional centre for the Romans before falling into the Byzantine empire from which it returned to Christianity in 1236. The gardens of the Alcazar of the Christian Kings were built under Alfonso XI of Castile in 1328 on the site of the old Moorish fortress.
This makes for a well-documented and interesting journey, with much to ravish the ear and interest the eye.
Robert J Farr

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