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Halffter: Sinfonietta, Elegía, Etc / Pérez, Tenerife So


Release Date: 07/11/2006 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 987067   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ernesto Halffter
Conductor:  Victor Pablo Pérez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tenerife Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



E. HALFFTER Sinfonietta. 1 Elegy. 2 Psalm XXII. 3 Psalm CXVI 3 ? Victor Pablo Pérez, cond; Ondrej Lewit (vn); 1 Robert Pytel (vc); 1 Peter Jones (db); 1 Susan Chilcott (sop); 3 Read more class="ARIAL12"> Claire Powell (mez); 3 Joan Cabero (ten); 3 José Antonio Carril (bs); 3 University of La Laguna Ch (Carmen Cruz Simó, dir); 2,3 Tenerife SO ? HARMONIA MUNDI HM 987067 (57:15)


Pablo Pérez and the Tenerife Orchestra have been responsible for some of the best recordings around of 20th-century Spanish music. In the 1990s, they made a notable set of Gerhard?s symphonies and orchestral works, including his ballet Don Quixote (a desert island disc as far as I?m concerned, sadly not currently obtainable); for the Etcetera label, they put down a terrific performance of Ernesto Halffter?s Rapsodia portuguesa . They are in fine form here with works drawn from the early and late parts of the same composer?s career.


Born into a prodigiously musical family, Ernesto spent many of his later years editing, completing, orchestrating, and revising the vast unfinished oratorio Atlántida by his mentor Manuel de Falla. I once owned a recording of it?soloists were Maria Bayo and Teresa Berganza?but eventually let it go because the work failed to hold my attention. (We all have to admit to this from time to time.) I bring it up because the choral works on the above CD post-date that long labor of reconstruction and clearly reflect its influence. The austerity, understated dramatics, and deliberate archaisms of late Falla are all in evidence, but there are subtle, personal differences as well. Halffter?s naturally bright orchestration is one such difference, bringing an added warmth to the liturgical settings. Psalm CXVI, lasting a mere 1:40, is especially attractive, with its joyous celebratory atmosphere. Performances are nicely shaded from the choir, with lovely solo singing from the late Susan Chilcott. Tenor Joan Cabero, in Psalm XXII, maintains a clear line and a pure timbre; I was not surprised to discover he is a noted Bach singer.


The Sinfonietta, dating from 1925, was Halffter?s early masterpiece. It is an exuberant mélange of neo-Classical concerto grosso, Stravinskian bite, and Spanish bravado. Only two issues ago, I reviewed a live recording by Richard Kapp and the Philharmonia Virtuosi (Ess.a.y 1092). Then, I described the work as a ?youthful outpouring of ideas and enthusiasms,? which it very much sounds like in Kapp?s hands. I enjoyed that performance a lot: it is the quickest around by several minutes and its raw sound evokes the earthy fairground of Pétrushka . However, in such a kaleidoscopic work many perspectives are possible. Pablo Pérez, in his more measured and polished way, brings out the Baroque flavor of the writing, recalling the Stravinsky of Pulcinella . He reveals a courtliness in the dance movements and a stately grandeur in the Adagio movement. That is not to say his performance is cautious or under-energized; it is simply a different, equally valid approach. In the long term, I would probably prefer it. In comparison, the vivid recordings from Muhai Tang (cpo 999 493) and Adrian Leaper (ASV DCA 1078) treat the Sinfonietta as an orchestral showpiece. Pablo Pérez and his fine orchestra have a point of view, making their rendition more compelling. Sound is clear and slightly distanced, which particularly suits the choral items.


Having said that, I would recommend the cpo disc to readers who may be looking for just one Halffter CD for their shelves, because of the couplings: the early Debussian Equisses symphoniques and the ebullient Rapsodia portuguesa for piano and orchestra. Personally, I wouldn?t want to be without any of these discs. When there?s an embarrassment of riches, why not be greedy?


FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sinfonietta in D major by Ernesto Halffter
Conductor:  Victor Pablo Pérez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tenerife Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Spain 
2.
Elegia by Ernesto Halffter
Conductor:  Victor Pablo Pérez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tenerife Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 
3.
Psalmi XXII by Ernesto Halffter
Conductor:  Victor Pablo Pérez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tenerife Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 
4.
Psalmi CXVI by Ernesto Halffter
Conductor:  Victor Pablo Pérez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tenerife Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 

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