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Enrique Jordá (conductor)
The Decca Recordings 1950-51
ELOQUENCE 484 0403 [76:50 + 65:56]

During February 1950 and July 1951 Enrique Jordá made two LPs for Decca, one in Paris and the other in London, and both happily occupy a disc in this Eloquence twofer. They’ve been finely remastered by Chris Bernauer.

Jordá enjoyed something of an erratic career and his reputation fluctuated over the decades, notably in the final period of his decade-long directorship of the San Francisco Symphony, having taken over the position vacated by Pierre Monteux, and which ended in ignominious failure. But he had earlier been a valuable asset for Decca who used him for colourful, sometimes splashily colourful Franco-Iberian music and also gave him an important symphonic assignment. The results attest to his sense of flair and drama but also, as in the Dvořák, control.

He recorded the contents of the first disc with the characterful L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris, whose piquant sonorities were captured with great fidelity by the recording team in the city’s La Maison de la Mutualité. L’Apprenti sorcier was a remake of a 1945 Decca recording but with the company’s improved ffrr technology it sounds full of immediacy, excitement and requisite fantasy. He takes a more relaxed view of the Ruslan and Lyudmila overture than the hell-for-leather Mravinsky though it too is sufficiently buoyant. His sense of avuncular characterisation can be intuited from his vivacious reading of Chabrier’s Danse slave from Le Roi malgré lui and it can’t be mere coincidence that led Decca’s A & R team to ask him to record the two orchestrations of Albéniz’s Iberia as they were made by Enrique Fernández Arbós whom Jorda had succeeded years before as an orchestral chief in his native Spain. The ethos of Turina’s symphonic poem La Procesión del Rocio suits him perfectly, but the only large-scale piece recorded in Paris was Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini which strikes me as being a better, more dramatic reading than Beecham’s.

One of the conductor’s major calling cards on 78s had been a terrifically evocative reading of Noches en los Jardines de España with Clifford Curzon (unlikely casting but very good). Decca saw no reason to engage another soloist when the 78 set had been so fine so Jordá and Curzon teamed with the New Symphony Orchestra in London for an LP performance just as fine, only rather more immediately recorded – and on the new LP medium of course. This has been reissued a number of times and it’s contextualised in the series of Curzon boxes that Decca released (see review) but which was itself then consolidated by a box that brought them all together in a 23-CD and 1-DVD box on 4784389. Jordá’s version of From the New World is, on its own terms, very effective though sectionally it’s not always the most disciplined of recordings. However, the sentiment of the slow movement is lucid and burnished and whilst it’s not an especially ‘Czech’ reading rhythmically speaking it’s a fine souvenir of the conductor in large-scale symphonic music.

The fine notes are by Peter Quantrill and this trim package offers an excellent retrospective of the art of an energetic, colourful, vivid and exciting, but too-little remembered conductor.

Jonathan Woolf

PAUL DUKAS (1865–1935)
1 L’Apprenti sorcier
MIKHAIL GLINKA (1804–1857)
2 Ruslan and Lyudmila – Overture
3 Danse slave (from Le Roi malgré lui)
MANUEL DE FALLA (1876–1946)
4 Danza Española (from La Vida breve)
5–7 Danzas Españolas, Op 37 Nos 5, 2 and 6
JOAQUÍN TURINA (1882–1949)
8–9 La Procesión del Rocio – Symphonic Poem, Op 9
ISAAC ALBÉNIZ (1860–1909)
Iberia (orchestrated by Arbós)
10 Book I No 2: El Puerto
11 Book II No 3: Triana
12 Francesca da Rimini, Op 32
L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire de Paris/Enrique Jordá
1–3 Noches en los Jardines de España
Clifford Curzon, piano
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841–1904)
4–7 Symphony No 9 in E minor, Op 95 ‘From the New World’
New Symphony Orchestra of London/Enrique Jordá

rec:  La Maison de la Mutualité, Paris, France, 24 February 1950 (Dukas, Glinka, Chabrier, Tchaikovsky), 28 February 1950 (Falla: La Vida breve, Granados, Turina, Albéniz); Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 2 July 1951 (Falla: Noches en los Jardines de España, Dvořák)

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