Notes and Editorial Reviews
If you like Vaughan Williams' A London Symphony then you're going to just love Guridi's Sinfonía pirenaica ("Pyrenees Symphony"), as robust and colorful a tribute to the Basque country as is the English composer's homage to his most beloved city. Although clearly a somewhat later work stylistically (it was composed in the mid-1940s), you will find a similar mix of modal, folk-like melodies and impressionistic tone-painting. Guridi works on an epic scale here: the piece has three large movements and lasts about 50 minutes. There is no formal slow movement, but plenty of slow music is spread around the other parts, and while it might be a stretch to say that the work is closely argued
formally, it is quite effectively shaped, never meanders, and the tunes are beautifully scored and obstinately memorable. In short, the symphony deserves to become a popular work in the Romantic nationalist tradition.
Happily, this performance is outstanding. The Bilbao Symphony premiered the work in 1945, and while I have no idea how familiar the orchestra has remained with the music since that time, the playing here is full of confidence and affection. The solo winds in particular do a lovely job phrasing their often rustic melodies with consistent charm and imagination, and the brass section, which on prior outings has sounded overtaxed, manages a full, rich ensemble sonority that captures the imaginative sweep of Guridi's numerous climaxes. Conductor Juan José Mena seems to know exactly when to push forward and when it's safe to stop and enjoy Guridi's musical scenery. His interpretation is poetic and exciting by turns. Naxos' engineers also deliver very natural sonics, with plenty of bass, atmosphere, warmth, and clarity. The Sword Dance from the opera Amaya (previously recorded and released on Marco Polo) makes a fun if unnecessary encore. Certainly this is one of the most impressive and important releases in Naxos' Spanish Classics series, and I couldn't recommend it more highly.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Amaya: Espatadantza (Sword Dance) by Jesus Guridi
Bilbao Symphony Orchestra,
Bilbao Choral Society
Period: 20th Century
Written: by 1920; Spain
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