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Gerhard: Cancionero De Pedrell, Etc / Pons, Benet


Release Date: 08/12/2008 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi Musique D'abord Catalog #: 1951500   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Roberto Gerhard
Performer:  Josep Benet
Conductor:  Josep Pons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatre Lliure Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

There can be little argument that Gerhard was the most important composer that Spain had produced since Falla; but it is frustrating to look at the catalogue and see how inadequately he is represented. His magnificent First Symphony has long since been deleted, and in the last 20 years only about four discs of his music have been issued; meanwhile performers go on and on duplicating the same over-familiar Spanish repertoire. There are currently, for example, some 15 recordings of Falla's seven folk-song arrangements—deservedly popular, of course, but Gerhard's equally attractive, if stylistically different, versions of eight folk-songs collected by his (and Falla's) teacher Pedrell have received scant attention. The only performance so far Read more available (Etcetera, 2/89) is not very satisfactory either vocally or in its recording of the piano accompaniment: the present version, with Gerhard's colourful orchestration, is decidedly better, though the cycle was designed for a female singer (the much-missed Sophie Wyss), and Josep Benet, who has hitherto been classified as an alto, seems to find the first song too low for him and is happier only in higher-lying numbers like "Laeta" and "Mate (not to mention a high B at the end of "Corrandes"). In the first two songs, moreover, he is disadvantageously placed vis-a-vis the microphone: this criticism applies even more strongly in Gerhard's much earlier, exotically expressionist Seven Haiku, where the voice (again uneasily low in No. 5) is frequently all but submerged by the handful of wind instruments and the agile, much too closely recorded piano.

Alegrias, for the Ballet Rambert in 1943, is tongue-in-cheek Andalusian in idiom, a high-spirited and witty score played here with understandable relish by this excellent chamber orchestra. It hasn't the weight, of course, of the much larger Tenerife Symphony Orchestra performance, but makes up for it by its crispness, punch and exact dynamic shadings—which are caught to perfection by the recording. The prize of the disc, however, is Pandora, a morality on war, death and hope produced by the Ballets Jooss in 1944. Utterly different and more violent in style, without any of the traditional `Spanishries', it makes extensive use of the ancient 'dance of death' Ad mortem festinamus, and its resonances with recent events in Spain are underlined by the introduction of Catalan folk-songs, of a parodied Falangist march and, in one place, of a snatch of the composer's own Piano Trio (one of his very first works) and of a figure associated with Don Quixote in his ballet of that name. Performed with total conviction by Josep Pons and his enterprising chamber orchestra, this is a valuable addition to the Gerhard discography.

-- Gramophone [11/1994]
reviewing the original release of this title, HM 901500
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Works on This Recording

1.
Cancionero de Pedrell by Roberto Gerhard
Performer:  Josep Benet (Tenor)
Conductor:  Josep Pons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatre Lliure Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941-1942; Spain 
2.
Pandora by Roberto Gerhard
Conductor:  Josep Pons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatre Lliure Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943-1944; England 
3.
Alegrías by Roberto Gerhard
Conductor:  Josep Pons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatre Lliure Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; England 
4.
Haiku (7) by Roberto Gerhard
Performer:  Josep Benet (Tenor)
Conductor:  Josep Pons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatre Lliure Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922/1958; Spain 

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