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Notes and Editorial Reviews
This album was nominated for the 2008 Grammy Award for "Best Opera Recording."
Than this more strange they scarce do come. That homely sentiment, with syntax influenced by the extraordinary English libretto, might be a natural first reaction to this otherwise very Spanish opera. Readers will not come to it utterly unprepared. Merlin and Henry Clifford have preceded it in the CD catalogues, both of them products of this collaboration between Albéniz and his English patron Francis Burdett Money-Coutts. Pepita Jiménez is based on a novel of provincial Spanish life by Juan Valera, more home-grown to Albéniz than to MoneyCourts who, it must be said, wrote a brand of
English all his own irrespective of time or place.
The peculiarity of the English is not the only oddity. It seems that throughout the opera's long-interrupted history it has been a matter of opinion as to whether the heroine lives or dies at the end, and whether, if living, she is united with young Don Luis in a conventional happy ending (and if so, is it truly happy, in that he will have had to renounce his intentions of entering the Church?). I think I know the answer to that one (the music tells us), but am puzzled by Act 1 ending with Luis going off to fight a duel of which nothing more appears to come in Act 2. There is also a musical anomaly: Act I is mostly loud and restless, Act 2 slower and more gentle. I much prefer Act 2.
The recording, like its predecessors, is conducted by José De Eusebio, to whom in large measure it owes its existence. He has edited the score, based on the revised version of 1905, nine years after the Barcelona premiere. As with Merlin, he has the support of Plácido Domingo, in fine voice and singing with conviction. Carol Vaness no longer has the freshness or firmness of voice to do full justice to the heroine's music but gives unstintingly and effectively. In the important role of the maid, Antoñona, Jane Henschel brings strong character and a sturdy voice. All have difficulty from time to time in getting their words across, partly because clear enunciation does not always ensure clarity, partly because the orchestra sometimes overwhelms. The "spectacularly beautiful and successful orchestration" is an aspect of the score which Eusebio has been most determined to demonstrate. He also claims "objective criteria and emotional sincerity"; to both of which, as Money-Courts might put it, he shall have no gainsaying from me.
-- John Steane, Gramophone [Awards Issue, 2006]
Works on This Recording
Pepita Jiménez by Isaac Albeniz
Carol Vaness (Soprano),
Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Carlos Chausson (Bass Baritone),
Jane Henschel (Mezzo Soprano),
José Antonio Lopez (Baritone),
Federico Gallar (Tenor),
Angel Rodriguez (Baritone),
Enrique Baquerizo (Baritone)
José De Eusebio
Madrid Community Chorus,
Madrid Community Orchestra
Written: 1896; Spain
Venue: Teatro Bulevar, Torrelodones, Madrid
Length: 90 Minutes 52 Secs.
Notes: Teatro Bulevar, Torrelodones, Madrid (07/2004); 06/2005