Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

VIVA ESPAÑA - anthology

CD1 76.53
España - Boston SO/Seiji Ozawa
Capriccio Brillante - LSO/Mackerras
Recuerdos de la Alhambra - Narciso Yepes
Capriccio Espagnol - Berlin PO/Maazel
Carmen Suite No 1 - LSO/Abbado
Danzas Fantasticas - Monte-Carlo Opera Orch/Frémaux
Asturias - Narciso Yepes
La Soirée dans Grenade - Sviatoslav Richter
La Sérénade Interrompue - Dino Ciani
La Puerta Del Vino - Dino Ciani

CD2 77.44
El Sombrero de Tres Picos - Berlin RSO/Maazel
El fandango del Candil - Jean-Marc Luisada
Quejas o La Maja y el Ruiseñor - Jean-Marc Luisada
Rapsodie Espagnole - Boston SO/Ozawa
Ibéria (orch ARBÓS) - Suisse Romande/Ansermet
(rec 1959-1992)
DG PANORAMA 469 253-2 [CD1 76.53+CD2 77.44]

Given the wide range of vintage collected here the sound is pretty consistent .. and consistently good at that.

The Rimsky, Ravel and de Falla are familiar 'cuts' but otherwise this set dips into and gathers up strappingly good archive recordings of some unfashionable repertoire. It is not the most obvious selection of Iberiana and I can imagine some being put off by a seeming 'grab-bag' of Latino oddments. In fact the mix is not bad at all and is pretty generous.

Ozawa's orchestra almost redeems a mechanistic España with some juicy woodwind playing but ultimately even the spectacular recording cannot help. Glinka's Capriccio on Jota Aragonesa is portentous and rowdy captured in belligerent sound. Tarrega's classic Recuerdos is nicely despatched by Yepes (a discreet DG house artiste if ever there was one!) as also is Asturias. The first true hit on the disc is Maazel in Rimsky's Capriccio excitingly blowing the cobwebs out of the way and kicking over the traces in style. A pity though that this overlaps with the all-Rimsky Panorama set. Surely there was an alternative Capriccio in the DG vaults. Abbado's LSO Carmen suite is insensitive - glitzy but insensitive. Turina's Danzas are done with a poetic hand. Frémaux was much underestimated. His EMI recording of the El Cid suite for example is a classic of the catalogue. I recall hearing a Mère l'Oie concert he did in the early 1970s in Bristol which was quite overwhelming. The Monte Carlo orchestra play as if possessed. Ciani and Richter contribute three tender Debussy items. Certainly these are handled with more feeling than Luisada in two movements from Goyescas.

Maazel is a shade too deliberate in the emphatically accented Three Cornered Suite. This otherwise has much the same slash and swipe as the Rimsky Capriccio. Ozawa's Rhapsodie Espagnole is a contrast with his España - much more successful. Once again this is the same version as is included in the Ravel Panorama set. The celebratory Iberia is serviceable and it is rare to encounter the complete half hour suite.

A word about the trilingual programme notes. These are compact and Kenneth Chalmers has something to say. The imaginative timeline feature on each of the Panoramas should not pass without approval. Good to see music in its political, theatrical and artistic context.

Not exactly a winning mix but with enough to satisfy.

Good-ish at the price.

Rob Barnett

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