Canciones en la Alhambra
Joaquin TURINA (1882-1949)
Eight Vocalisations Op 74 (1932)
Angel BARRIOS (1882-1964)
Hechinzo y nostalgia [3.45]
y sin cielo [2.32]
La novia del aire – bolero andaluza [3.11]
de luz y fuego [3.62]
Con puñales de cariño [2.57]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Leo DELIBES (1836-1891)
Les Filles du Cadix ]4.05]
Manuel LOPEZ-QUIROGA (1899-1998)
No te mires en el rio [4.25]
Y sin embargo te quiero [6.00]
Te lo juro yo [4.05]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Vocalise-étude en forme de habanera
Juan SOLANO (1921-1992)
Un rojo, rojo clavel [3.39]
Carmelo LARREA (1907-1980)
Camino verde [4.04]
Tomás BARRERA and Rafael CALLEJA
Dios Granada [4.41]
Mariola Cantarero (soprano)
Rubén Fernández Aguirre (piano)
rec. live, La Alhambra: Patio de los Arrayanes, Festival Internacional
de Musica y Danza de Granada, 24 June 2014
IBS CLASSICAL GOLD 62014 [77:42]
There are a few things in life that I cannot resist.
One is a lovely Spanish soprano and another is the Alhambra Palace and
Andalucía in general. This disc brings them together in a gorgeously
presented cardboard casing with rich colour photos of the Alhambra Palace
and gardens and the performers. It's a live concert vividly captured.
If you haven’t yet visited the Alhambra on the hill above Granada then
you must. It is vivid in colour, history and smells. Until the day you
do go look out for Washington Irving’s ‘Tales from the Alhambra’. On
arrival he writes “We found ourselves in a deep ravine, filled with
beautiful groves, with a step avenue and various footpaths winding through
it, bordered by stone seats and ornamented with fountains”. Failing
that, you could listen to this intoxicating CD.
The acoustic for concerts around the central pool - the ‘Patio del los
Arrayanes’ or Court of the Myrtles - with a backdrop of mosaics and
medieval Arabic horseshoe arches is perfect. I recall attending a violin
recital there a few years ago. It is however expensive as there are
not a huge number of seats. The audience clap and call often quite enthusiastically
at the end of works but their presence is inaudible otherwise. There
is just enough applause to conjure the feeling of a heady atmosphere
on a gentle June evening; all this amidst the calls of various birds
including the occasional nightingale. The sunlit enchantment of the
gardens seeming to shimmer as the sun drifts slowly below the Alhambra
Often in Spain, the Spanish singer will mostly perform songs from their
own country or/and from France. In England, English songs tend to be
tagged on the end after German lieder or whatever. So here we have a
repertoire which could well be largely unknown to you. How many of you
have come across the dramatic and characterful Vocalisations of Turina?
No exercises these but songs that don’t happen to have a text. How many
of you know anything about Angel Barrios or Manuel Lopez-Quiroga and
In fact the five songs by Angel Barrios seem to sum up the dark romanticism
of the Alhambra. According to the notes he was born and lived in the
Alhambra and there is a museum to his life and work nearby. The songs
are deeply Andalucían the last being a seguidilla. They are not a cycle
but work well as a group.
One of the big questions which many people ask is: has the singer a
big vibrato; if so many are put off. The answer is ‘no’ and ‘yes’. No,
because all of Mariola Canterero’s intonation is clear and sensitive.
Yes, because all singers must have a vibrato but must
control it and vary its use dependent on the demands of music and text.
This Cantarero does supremely well. Take for example the outstanding
performance of Ravel’s Vocalise-étude en forme de habanera. Unlike
Turina, this is instrumental writing for the voice and technically demanding
with portamenti, staccato phrasing, trills and scalic passages zipping
between the richness of the lower register and the delicacy of the highest.
In this repertoire singers must do more than project their voices. In
Solano’s Un rojo, rojo clavel, an encore number, she is required
to click heels and fingers and project the song across the audience
space. Gounod writes a Bolero, another Spanish dance. Again much
characterisation is required and Cantarero is able to demonstrate her
vocal versatility. Ironically this was originally composed in England,
in English but later given a French text.
The nineteenth century French composers - and writers for that matter
- became quite obsessed with Spain especially Léo Delibes as in his
famous Les Filles du Cadix which incidentally pre-dates Carmen.
This song requires the singer to play castanets - not easy even when
With the four songs by the long-lived López-Quiroga and the last encore
items by Solano and Barrera, one is reminded how far distant Spanish
music can be from the rest of Europe. These songs from the mid-20th
century spring out of the Zarzuela tradition of music-theatre
and are truly nationalistic. Indeed Adios Granada, Granada Mia by
Barrera and Calleja comes from a 1905 zarzuela. It is deeply passionate
and Andalucian being based on a fandango rhythm as well as being full
of gypsy-style melisma.
In all this I must not forget the sensitive support and stylistic grasp
demonstrated so superbly by pianist Rubén Fernández Aguirre who is the
preferred accompanist of many of Spain’s leading singers.
But my often encountered bête noir must be mentioned. We have
an excellent, if somewhat romantic booklet essay by Francisco J. Gimenéz
in which each song is gone into in some detail. Regrettably we are only
offered texts in Spanish when to appreciate fully the deeper meaning
of the songs a translation is vital.
The recording is vibrant and mostly well balanced, strongly capturing
the atmosphere of the occasion.