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Itziar M. Galdos (soprano) Per Arne Frantzen (piano).
rec. 14-17 October 2011, Sofienberg Church, Oslo.
LAWO CLASSICS LWC 1048 [65:39]

This CD consists of songs charting a musical journey through northern Spain. Believing that ‘language is identity. Language has its own melody and its own sound’ Galdos and Frantzen tackle this varied repertoire from Catalonian, Basque and Galician texts. These are all included and translated in the excellent LAWO booklet.
 
Adored for her performances of Puccini’s famous heroine, Manon Lescaut and for Tosca as well as for Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello, Galdos is at much at home as Elizabeth in Tannhäuser as in these Spanish songs. In the spring of 2013 she was the recipient of Spain’s Commander of the Royal Order of Isabella.
 
From the Galician collection, the most enchanting piece is the sorrowful Panxolina by Cristobal Halffter and based on a poem by Vicente Risco. Written in D minor and alternating between the Dorian and Aeolian, this piece is pure and nostalgic; Halffter here rids himself of his modernist avant-gardism. As Galdos sings ‘Little caged angel / from my poor breast / where I felt so alone’, one feels the sensitivity in her voice. Similarly melancholic, Joaquin Nin’s Meu Amor Meu Amorino with its piano introduction and postlude is sparse and harrowingly brooding. Perhaps more scandalously known as the incestuous father of the erotic writer Anais Nin, who recalls her father as an egotistical Don Juan, in this instance it is Joaquin Nin’s music that holds the listener captive and still.
 
Moving to the Bay of Biscay for the songs of the Basque Country, the music seems altogether more graceful and flowing. The melodies hint at Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and Robert Schumann. We begin with a selection from Pablo Sorozabal’s Siete Lieder, composed when Sorozabal was living in Berlin and inspired by poems written by Heinrich Heine. The Germanic influence hinted at in the title of these songs is evident, particularly in the admixture of playfulness, dreaminess and sorrow. The chiaroscuro of the sad lotus flower ‘under the rays of the burning sun’ in Lotoren Lorak is carefully and charmingly done. Zure Mosuan is particularly ebullient and the flexibility of Galdos’s voice is evident in the overall bounciness of the piece.

Evoking the atypical Basque gloom, Jesus Guridi’s Loa, Loa and Jose Gonzalo Zulaika’s Nik Baditut are acutely mournful and are aptly handled by singer and pianist. This is not to say that the zippy ‘tweetytweetytweet’ of Aldapeko Sagarraren or the fooling around of Atzo Ttun Ttun — by Zulaika, more commonly known as Padre Donostia, after the city of San Sebastian, where he was born — is anything other than crisp and cheery.
 
Travelling once more to Catalonia, the listener arrives at the more familiar sounds of Frederic Mompou and Ricard Lamote de Grignon. Starting with a selection of Mompou from his Combat del Somni, based on poems by his friend Josep Janes, Galdos’s recording of Damunt de tu Nomes les Flores is exquisite in its achingly beatific serenity and perspicuity. Jo et Pressentia com la Mar hints at the French impressionism of Erik Satie and Gabriel Fauré, two of Mompou’s greatest influences. Galdos is particularly gifted at singing this miniaturist repertoire drawing out an improvisatory quality, delicacy and intimacy.
 
Composed in 1934 as a wedding present to two friends, Ricard Lamote de Grignon’s Triptic is based on Maria de Quadres’s translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s verse into Catalan. Yet again, Galdos demonstrates her exquisite talent for touching the soul of the listener with that of the poetry of the music itself. The transcendental quality of Es una Nit d’Abril is lasting as Galdos sings: ‘Through the night I keep humming, / ‘I am she despairing traveller, I am she’.’ Taught by Alfred Cortot, Francis Poulenc and Olivier Messiaen, Manuel Garcia Morante’s arrangement of El Cant dels Ocells is like ‘seeing the great awakening / of the light on the most beautiful night’. Frantzen’s accompaniment is particularly ethereal alongside the yielding voice of Galdos.
 
To commandeer an extract from Josep Janes’s poem Make My Life Transparent (set to music by Mompou), the duo form a flowing river ‘that carries to the sea the pure waters / of all images with a blue desire’.

Lucy Jeffery
 
Track listing
Jose Moreno BASCUNANA (1911-1994)
Morrina [2:44]
Rafael FERRER (1913-1988)
Lua de Vrau [2:26]
Cristobal HALFFTER (b. 1930)
Panxolina [3:03]
Joaquin NIN (1879-1949)
Eu Coa Mina Monteira [2:52]
Meu Amor Meu Amorino [3:14]
Canta O Galo Ven [1:43]
Pablo SOROZABAL (1897-1988)
Amesetan [3:23]
Otz Eta Ixiltsu [1:15]
Zure Mosuan [1:24]
Lotoren Lorak [2:50]
Eres Dagie Txilibituak [1:08]
Agertu-Yatan Orrilla [1:40]
Jesus GUIRDI (1886-1961)
Loa, Loa [3:11]
Father DONOSTIA (1866-1956)
Lili Eder Bat [2:17]
Aldapeko Sagarraren [0:39]
Nik Baditut [2:03]
Iruten Ari Nuzu [1:03]
Atzo Ttun Ttun [0:47]
Frederic MOMPOU (1893-1987)
Damunt De Tu Nomes Les Flores [4:01]
Aquesta Nit Un Mateix Vent [2:47]
Jo Et Pressentia Com La Mar [2:05]
Fes Me La Vida Transparent [3:16]
Ricard Lamote de GRIGNON (1899-1962)
Quan La Llantia S’Apaga [3:46]
Era El CApvespre [2:55]
Es Una Nit D’Abril [3:26]
Manuel Garcia MORANTE (b. 1937)
El Rossinyol [1:49]
El Noi De La Mare [1:17]
El Cant Dels Ocells [2:35]


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