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Joaquin RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Chamber Orchestra Works
Soleriana [25:51]
Tres viejos aires de danza [10:25]
Dos miniaturas andaluzas [5:22]
Zarabanda lejana [10:54]
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana/Joan Enric Lluna
rec. 9-10 April 2019, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, Valencia, Spain
IBS CLASSICAL IBS82020 [52:38]

When it comes to the orchestral music of Joaquin Rodrigo, people may know the Concierto de Aranjuez and the Fantasia para un gentilhombre. There also is the Concierto andaluz for four guitars and orchestra, composed especially for Los Romeros. Beyond these works, however, there is a wealth of rarely performed and rarely recorded music which deserves its place in the sun. Rodrigo’s songs and piano music are well worth investigating, and many of the orchestral works are the equal of the more famous pieces. We must thank Naxos and Brilliant Classics for their effort to bring this wonderful music to the listener.

Here we have four works for chamber orchestra, without a guitar in sight, which showcase the composer’s orchestral and stylistic colour. The latest piece is Soleriana from 1953, a suite based upon music by Antonio Soler. There are only five movements here but volume 1 of Rodrigo’s complete orchestral works series (on Naxos 8.555844, played by Asturias Symphony Orchestra and Maximiano Valdés) actually contains eight pieces. The three additional movements are Fandango a lo alto, Contradanza and Boleras. This is a shame because there is room for them on this disc.

This recording is slightly more relaxed than that of Maximiano Valdés, still with a summery Spanish outlook. The same can be said of the other work also on the Naxos disc. Zarabanda lejana was originally composed in 1926 as a piece for guitar, but arranged for string orchestra four years later, when the composer added the Villancico with its dance-like theme contrasting well with the mellow wistfulness of the first movement. Here, the opening Zarabanda lejana movement is half again as long as the Valdés account, giving it a sense of a summer siesta.

The remaining two works appear in the Naxos survey, too: Tres viejos aires de danza on volume 6 (played by the Castille and León Symphony Orchestra and Max Bragado-Darman, on Naxos 8.555962); volume 8 includes Dos miniaturas andaluzas (again with Maximiano Valdés, on Naxos 8.557801. By the way, both those discs are fine, although the flute version of the Fantasia para un gentilhombre in volume 8) does take some getting used to. In comparison, Joan Enric Lluna’s performances are once again slightly slower without detracting from the music. (It is strange to think that Dos miniaturas andaluzas had to wait seventy years for its premiere in 1999.) These two short pieces show great charm and Andalusian flavour; like Soleriana, Tres viejos aires de danza once again harks back to the past.

This most pleasant disc proves to be a wonderful introduction to the less usual aspects of the composer’s orchestral music. The performance is crisp and clear. The Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana and Joan Enric Lluna bring to life this beautiful Spanish heart of this music. Never mind the incomplete Soleriana and the slowish tempi, this disc is highly recommendable. First-rate performance and sound, coupled with the informative booklet notes, make this winner a disc to investigate.

Stuart Sillitoe

Previous review: Mike Parr