Nimbus certainly doesn’t hide the fact that these aren’t brand
new recordings — it prints several glowing published comments
as to the elevated nature of the performances — but I wouldn’t
say that it goes out of its way to publicise the fact. Thus
their position roughly aligns with that of those lines from
Fiddler on the Roof: ‘It’s no great shame to be poor
— but it’s no great honour, either’. Sticking a copyright and
production date of 2013 may persuade potential purchasers otherwise,
but the critic’s job is to tell you that the recordings were
made by Meridian in either 2003 or 2004. No recording location
details are provided, presumably on the grounds that one thing
would lead to another, as it were, and you’d have to spill the
beans. In any case, why be coy? 2004 isn’t exactly 1924 and
the days of playing into acoustic funnel horns.
Anyway, I’ve enjoyed a number of Clara Rodríguez’s more recent
discs and I’ve enjoyed this one as much. It helps to like Ernesto
Lecuona’s good-time music but I can’t imagine anyone, other
than a diehard serialist, not liking it, or at least actively
objecting to it. If you enjoy the imposing vistas projected
in Ante El Escorial, a kind of lightweight Granados,
you will be delighted by both the piece and the playing. There
is real rhythmic vitality generated in Granada, with
its ancillary hints of Debussy, something else that aligns the
Cuban Lecuona to earlier Iberian composers such as Granados
and Albéniz. Here, too, Flamenco is fused with Lisztian flourish
with devilishly exciting results.
The Danaza cubanas are full of verve and colour, and
played with considerable digital clarity and stylistic acumen.
Elements of the music sound like Cubano Rags, yet others like
updated Gottschalk, which is not wholly unsurprisingly since
they are nineteenth-century dances. The other two cycles are
the Afro-Cuban Dances and Suite Andalucia.
The former glitter ebulliently and are marked by teasing rhythms
and splendidly hummable tunes. The latter cycle is no less exciting,
each movement a monument to a town or landmark and full of colour,
and a very personal sense of warmth and immediacy. The movement
devoted to the Guadalquivir, for instance, is rich but not over-complex
Overlook the booklet timing glitch for San Francisco El
Grande. It certainly doesn’t last a mere 1:48, rather a
more expansive 4:17, and it’s a richly powerful piece, well
worth a few hearings.
There are a number of other recommendable Lecuona discs out
there. Tirino has recorded a lot of the composer’s music, not
least that for piano and orchestra, on BIS. Kathryn Stott has
also recorded his music successfully. Clara Rodríguez’s selection
here is as fine as anyone’s.
us financially by purchasing this disc
for £12 postage paid World-wide.