Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Nicholas Zumbro plays de Falla and Granados
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)

Goyescas Book I

El Pelele
Los requiebros
Coloquio en la reja
El fandango de candil
Quejas ó la maja y el ruiseñor
Goyescas Book II

El amor y la muerte; Balada
Epilogo; Serenata del espectro
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)

El Amor Brujo
Scene-Chanson du feu-follet
Nicholas Zumbro (piano)
Recorded at St Silas Church, London (1994?)

Nicholas Zumbro shows fine affinities with Spanish music – its colour and rhythm – in this invigorating selection. In the music from Goyescas, which really can’t withstand indifferent technique or limited expressive nuance or, in the final resort, insufficiently taut rubati, Zumbro gives us more from Book I than Book II. El Pelele receives an appropriately brillante reading and in Los requiebros his rhythm is excellent and rubati are natural and flexible. Coloquio en la reja, the earliest written of the set, is a long and demanding piece, and one prone sometimes to deflating lack of contrasts and a lingering tempo. Zumbro manages to preserve a certain wistfulness without sacrificing momentum – his tempo is relatively forward moving and importantly he manages to mark the transitions with a degree of seamless intent. His Allegretto section, often a pianistic downfall with executants making a real meal of it, is excellent – witty rhythms, chordal strength and drama. El fandango de candil is well argued, its Spanish rhythms subtle and effectively realised and it’s splendidly assertive, though perhaps not quite fff at the climax.

Quejas ó la maja y el ruiseñor (The Maiden and the Nightingale) is not over-scaled or allowed to ramble; its relative tautness is not however an indication of expressive indifference because it’s lyrically phrased and the rubati, as ever with Zumbro, are unforced. Many tend to make the nightingale’s final notes rather outsize; not here. It’s important that a sense of quasi-improvisation courses through these settings without endangering the sense of the spine of the music (Granados after all was a famous improvisator). Just such a sense can be gleaned from El amor y la muerte from Book II in which the colours are newly liberated and in the Epilogue, Serenata del espectro where a sense of aeration co-exists with the more distanced and baleful qualities. As a bonus there are two previously unrecorded items, Crepusculo and Intermezzo in their arrangements for piano. The former, left behind in manuscript at Granados’ death, has some glinting Zumbro treble runs, a sensitively judged climax and brisk rhythm whilst the latter, a famous piece better known in versions for band and for violin, I suppose, receives an expressive reading.

The two de Falla pieces, less well known ones, from El Amor Brujo make fine makeweights – I particularly admired Pantomine where Zumbro catches the sense of inflexion and curious stasis in the music. The recording, in St Silas Church, London, is good but sometimes inclines to hardness and closeness – there’s not much air at climaxes – but it’s not really a problem. The performances themselves are certainly convincing.

Jonathan Woolf

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