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Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
from Danzas Españolas (1892/1900): Andaluza [3.25]; Oriental [4.11]
Pequeña Romanza for string quartet (1912) [4.36]
El Himno de los Muertos (arr. Eduardo López-Chávarri) (1897) [2.24]
Intermezzo from Goyescas (arr. José Luis Turina) (1915) [4.16]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Tango Op. 165, No. 2 (arr. Scott J. Roudebush) (1890) [5.19]
Mallorca (arr. Werner Thomas-Mifune/Carlos Picazo) (1890) [5.19]
Francisco TÁRREGA (1857-1909)
Recuerdos de la Alhambra, (arr, Klas Krantz) (1896) [3.44]
Gran Vals (Grande Vlas) (arr. Victor Yélamo) (1902) [2.56]
Eduard TOLDRÀ (1895-1962)
Nocturno from Vistas al Mar, Evocacciones de España (1921) [5.30]
Joaquim MALATS (1872-1942)
Serenata Española from Impressions de España (1896) [3.35]
Ruperto CHAPI (1851-1909)
Nocturno from El Rey que Rabió (1891) [3.00]
Enric MORERA (1865-1942)
Desolació (Desolation) (?) [2.01]
Jesús De MONASTERIO (1836-1903)
Andante Religioso (1872) [4.56]
Andante Expressivo (1881) [4.31]
Ricardo LAMOTE DE GRIGNON (1899-1962)
Lento Expresivo [5.15]
Concerto Málaga String Orchestra/José Serebrier
rec. 2016, Iglesia San Juan Bautista Nigűelas, Spain
SOMM SOMMCD0171 [62.21]

A string orchestra playing Spanish music? Where would be the flashes of brilliant colour served up by woodwinds, brass and percussion? One may well ask and if you want to enjoy such thrills then I advise you to avoid this album. On the other hand you might be charmed by its quieter, more intimate sound world. The music by Granados is sufficiently well known, but the majority of the works here are by lesser-known composers. One wonders whether recordings of the music in original orchestrations might not serve them better?

The programme opens with the five Granados pieces and begins with Andaluza his best-known piece. It cannot be denied that it has a certain vibrancy in Serebrier’s reading yet it is, for me, tinged too much with languor. The following Oriental lilts gently with a perfumed atmosphere and a hint of sensuality. Pequeña Romanza for string quartet is song-like, restrained and plaintive with subtle shifting harmonies. El Himno de los Muertos, as might be expected is forlorn too but tragic. The final Goyescas Intermezzo has more colour, drive and life, and is rhythmically stronger, with the vibrancy of proud tremolando upper strings.

The name Isaac Albéniz is familiar. His well-known Tango, in Scott J. Roudebush’s arrangement, as performed here, drags. It is dull and tame, to put it mildly. Mallorca is a recollection of the music of the Mediterranean island. It has two sections, the first a rather melancholic barcarole saved from tedium by some winsomely expressive sinuous felicities. Section two is more light-hearted and sunny.

Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra is very appealing, with tremolandos imitating guitars. The music is quite lullaby-like and it lilts sweetly. This track is worth this album alone. His Grande Valse, less worthy, waltzes in the Viennese tradition. Toldrà’s reflective Nocturno is elegiac, with a long-breathed melody meandering through its heart. Malats’ Serenata Española from Impressions de España appeals more and it may be familiar to many listeners. It is more vivacious and vibrant. Chapi’s slowly evolving Nocturno quite beguiles while Morera’s Desolació intrigues. It has a relentless and angry buzz as though a hive of bees has been upset. Desolate indeed.

Monasterio’s Andante Religioso is a harmonically rich study in quiet, detached piety while his Andantino Expressivo is yet another melancholy piece although, thankfully, the mood lightens a little half way through.

The programme ends with Lamote de Grignon’s Lento Expressivo. He was a gifted conductor and composer. His Lento Expressivo was inspired by the city of Barcelona. Once again there is a melancholy tinge with contemporary inflections in harmony and form in a piece which looks more outwardly to modern Europe and owes little to Spain

Ian Lace



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