Sunday, January 4, 2015

Jesús Guridi - Ten Basque Melodies - So the boys sing - An Adventure of Don Quixote, Symphonic Poem -In a Phoenician Vessel, Symphonic Poem - The early cock is crowing - Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, Juan José Mena Etc.

One of the greatest 20th century Spanish composers, Jesús Guridi’s Ten Basque melodies are exciting and highly accessible-skillfully, colorfully arranged, immediately appealing tunes of varied character, mood, and tempo; catchy, crisp, dancing rhythms in the faster pieces ("Narrativa", the Respighi-ian "De ronda", "Festiva") and warmly expressive string writing in the slower, more lyrical ones ("Amorosa", "Elegiaca"); and plenty of splashy, showy moments for the orchestra and principal players, providing more than enough excitement and symphonic revelry to capture and easily hold the listeners interest for 22 minutes. In one song, "Religiosa", Guridi’s rich-textured orchestration even attempts the flavor of a pipe organ, undoubtedly a reference to the composer’s work as an organist and organ teacher.

"Así cantan los chicos" (So the boys sing), is a beautifully imagined work for orchestra and children’s choir that's "based on Spanish children's folklore" and employs parts of popular songs among its many memorable themes. The last five or so minutes of this 13-plus-minute piece is an expertly crafted interaction between two choruses (with intermittent interjections by a soloist) that's reminiscent of some of Britten's similar conceptions. I am tempted to say that this is my favorite work on the disc, but then it's impossible as every time I revisit this gem of a recording, I fall for every single piece here time and again.

Guridi's symphonic poem "Don Quixote" builds in a Sibelian manner, then briefly tosses some Strauss-like fireworks before returning to a calmer, moodier temper before another burst of Straussian brass flourishes and leaping winds. The work has especially effective brass and string writing and relentless energy, evocative scene-painting, and a roaring, brass-and-timpani-led climax.

The symphonic poem "En un barco fenicio" (In a Phoenician Vessel) again takes its lead somewhat from Sibelius, with effects such as swirling upper strings above grumbling, rumbling low-register instruments, punctuated by brass and winds, and several gradual crescendos that build to powerful (if brief) full-orchestra statements. Musically speaking the thematic picture is finely and colorfully drawn, with-as in the Don Quixote-a logical and captivating flow from one episode to the next, with no let-up in energy or imaginative scoring.

The disc ends with the quite beautiful little song "Canta el gallo tempranero" (The early cock is crowing), which is very nicely sung by soprano Isabel Álvarez. Although this may seem rather anticlimactic after the preceding orchestral theatrics, it actually proves a perfect way to wind down, with Álvarez's genial expressive style enhancing and lending an effective personal touch to the song's decidedly Spanish character. This survey is, to my ears, 66 minutes of complete beauty start to finish.




Anonymous said...

Bellos opus,I have cd Symphony Pirenaica,en mismo sello naxus,un beatiful cd too,abrazos Tzadik!! Tapirman(cuando puedas algún cd con Synphonies de Ernst Toch(7 son en cpo) or Pianoconcertos del amable G.Lloyd,gracias)

Kostas Eleftheriou said...

These works are genuine ear candy. Thanks a bunch and best wishes for the New Year!

theblueamos said...

Hakol besder? All ok??

Tzadik said...

Hola Tapirman, yes I too have that Guridi Symphony.
Toch is a yes (again not sure where I have it!!) and Lloyd I am *Still* trying to dig's proving to be a real challenge, but I will surprise you one day... TZ

Tzadik said...

Hi there Kostas, you are welcome, happy you like the sweet sounds ;) -Thanks for commenting! TZ

Tzadik said...

Hey t.b.a., how kind of you to inquire, I really appreciate that. Things are far from okay, to be honest, however I am here still-living for great music still-and that shall not change!! My current state of hellish affairs involves among other things a quite possible eviction; I have been trying to find a second job in a "state of emergency" so to speak, as supplemental income is the only way I will be able to even just hang on by a thread..and I have less than 2 weeks to do so. Have been sleepless needless to say.
Hope you are well, and talk/type soon. TZ