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Balada: Guernica, Symphony No 4, Zapata / Conde, Et Al


Release Date: 08/17/2004 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557342   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Leonardo Balada
Conductor:  Salvador Mas Conde
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orquesta Simfonica de Barcelona i Nacion Catalunya
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

With its series of orchestral music of the Catalan composer Leonardo Balada (b. 1933) Naxos demonstrates that this is a composer of importance. His mature style uniquely weaves traditional melodic threads through material borne of post-12-tone European modernism. Because some of the music functions more or less as we subconsciously expect, our ear usually is able to find solid reference points. The results are sometimes hilarious, sometimes frightening, but nearly always intriguing. The performances are also rendered with fluency and wit by conductor Mas Conde; this orchestra plays very well and sounds like a superior, well trained regional symphony.


Among the discs in the Naxos series, this one provides the best
Read more overview of the composer's career. Balada remained a conservative composer against his wishes (he was a "progressive" in most other respects) because he never could find anything other than intellectual sterility in the dominant 12-tone system. After composers such as Ligeti and Penderecki found ways to be avant-garde without adopting the Schoenberg-Webern system, Balada, in a virtually overnight style-change, wrote two pieces that applied these new techniques, including a musical rendering of that paragon of progressive protest art, Picasso's Guernica. Here the composer portrays the fears he experienced as a young boy in Barcelona under Fascist bombardment. The work uses a sonic palette built on blocks of sound, effectively capturing the starkness of Picasso's grey-and-black masterpiece.


After Guernica, the program moves on to a pair of works representing Balada's next style change, Homage to Sarasate and Homage to Casals. It was here that Balada began using tonal melodies against an attractive harmonic accompaniment, with Sarasate's Spanish tunes in the first piece and Casals' concert version of the Catalan sardana in the second. Although the "Lausanne" Symphony comes across as a rather flat, unsuccessful reworking of his then-current orchestral technique, Images for Orchestra, from Balada's opera Zapata, returns to the composer's best form, occasionally throwing Mexican tunes (including "La Cucaracha") into an almost Ivesian homage to the revolutionary leader. In all, this is a strongly recommendable disc--and not just for the usual fans of musical modernism. [5/13/2005]
--Joseph Stevenson, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Guernica by Leonardo Balada
Conductor:  Salvador Mas Conde
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orquesta Simfonica de Barcelona i Nacion Catalunya
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1966; USA 
Venue:  Sant Cugat Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain 
Length: 11 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Notes: Sant Cugat Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain (04/29/2003 - 05/03/2003) 
2.
Zapata - Images for Orchestra by Leonardo Balada
Conductor:  Salvador Mas Conde
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orquesta Simfonica de Barcelona i Nacion Catalunya
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1987; USA 
Venue:  Sant Cugat Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain 
Length: 20 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Notes: Sant Cugat Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain (04/29/2003 - 05/03/2003) 
3.
Homage to Casals by Leonardo Balada
Conductor:  Salvador Mas Conde
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orquesta Simfonica de Barcelona i Nacion Catalunya
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; USA 
Venue:  Sant Cugat Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain 
Length: 11 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Notes: Sant Cugat Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain (04/29/2003 - 05/03/2003) 
4.
Homage to Sarasate by Leonardo Balada
Conductor:  Salvador Mas Conde
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orquesta Simfonica de Barcelona i Nacion Catalunya
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; USA 
Venue:  Sant Cugat Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain 
Length: 7 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Notes: Sant Cugat Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain (04/29/2003 - 05/03/2003) 
5.
Symphony no 4 "Lausanne" by Leonardo Balada
Conductor:  Salvador Mas Conde
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orquesta Simfonica de Barcelona i Nacion Catalunya
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; USA 
Venue:  Sant Cugat Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain 
Length: 18 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Notes: Sant Cugat Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain (04/29/2003 - 05/03/2003) 

Sound Samples

Guernica
Homage to Sarasate
Homage to Casals
Symphony No. 4, "Lausanne": Symphony No. 4, 'Lausanne'
Zapata: I. Waltz
Zapata: II. March
Zapata: III. Elegy
Zapata: IV. Wedding Dance

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