WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Xavier Montsalvatge: Orchestral Works / Mena, BBC Symphony Orchestra

Montsalvatge / Bbc Philharmonic Orch / Mena
Release Date: 09/25/2012 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10735   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Xavier Montsalvatge
Performer:  Clara MourizRuby Hughes
Conductor:  Juanjo Mena
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
On sale! $18.99
CD:  $14.99
In Stock
MP3: $9.99
What's this?

Notes and Editorial Reviews

MONTSALVATGE Partita 1958. 5 Canciones Negras 1. Calidoscopi simfònic. Simfonia de Réquiem 2 Juanjo Mena, cond; 1 Clara Mouriz (mez); 2 Ruby Hughes (sop); BBC PO CHANDOS 10735 (68:00)

I included a new Montsalvatge orchestral disc in my 2012 Want List, and Read more now here is another: the third release in Mena’s Spanish series for Chandos. The Catalan composer (1912-2002) is finally getting the recognition on disc that his music deserves, probably as a result of his centenary last year. The new CD is brilliantly performed and recorded in the best Chandos house style, and the program is very welcome. The four-movement Kaleidoscope Symphony is a reworking of music from an unproduced ballet and is advertised as a premiere recording. Previous recordings exist of the Partita and Simfonia de Réquiem, but the first is unavailable and the second suffers from inferior sound.

Partita 1958 finds Montsalvatge in neoclassical mode. Darius Milhaud is called to mind by the bitonal harmony (which is very evident in the opening Fanfare), and a French pastoral strain infiltrates the Sarabande and Intermezzo movements. The finale begins with a vigorous atonal fugue in the strings, but Montsalvatge soon gives up on such an academic idea and the movement swiftly turns into a boisterous concertino for xylophone.

The Simfonia de Réquiem of 1985 is an orchestral rendering of segments of the Requiem Mass, in the same mold as Britten’s similarly titled work. The solo soprano sings only in the final movement. This piece displays a more severe and serious side to the composer: His use of the Dies irae theme in the appropriate movement is subtly integrated, while the closing bars featuring the soprano’s “Requiem aeternam” provide a quietly moving coda. A notable feature of the orchestration is the use of piano in the “Introit” and “Agnus Dei” movements, an effective and memorable touch.

The Kaleidoscope Symphony is a lighter work in a more nationalistic vein, with a habañera for the third movement and easily identifiable Spanish rhythms in the finale, subtitled “a la Indiana.” The composer is completely at home in this idiom, spicing it as usual with some modernist harmonies (though it is nowhere near as dissonant as his later ballet scores like Laberinto ). This 16-minute work is an enjoyable addition to the Montsalvatge discography.

The most familiar music here is the song cycle. Indeed, it appeared on the recent disc mentioned above, sung by Lucia Duchoñová. I was very impressed with her interpretation, but Clara Mouriz (a rising star in Britain) is not far behind. Mouriz brings greater depth of tone to the songs—she is a mezzo as opposed to Duchoñová’s soprano—and is equally characterful in her interpretation. I like a soprano in this work, but this is an entirely personal preference. Duchoñová’s brighter tone better suits the buoyant mood of the five songs. Victoria de los Angeles represents the best of both worlds in her 1962 EMI recording.

In the Lullaby—arguably Montsalvatge’s single most famous composition—the Chandos sound engineer fades Mouriz’s voice and the orchestra into the distance at the end, as though the mother who is gently crooning to her child softly tiptoes out of the room (and into the Grand Canyon, by the sound of it). I could do without this effect. A sense of closure is written into the music already, so let the artists make it work! Putting aside that insignificant caveat, I am delighted with this disc of first-rate music and I heartily recommend it.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott    
Read less

Works on This Recording

Partita by Xavier Montsalvatge
Conductor:  Juanjo Mena
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 
Canciones negras (5) by Xavier Montsalvatge
Performer:  Clara Mouriz (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Juanjo Mena
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; Spain 
Simfonia de Requiem by Xavier Montsalvatge
Performer:  Ruby Hughes (Soprano)
Conductor:  Juanjo Mena
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; Spain 
Calidoscopi simfonic, Op. 61 by Xavier Montsalvatge
Conductor:  Juanjo Mena
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 

Sound Samples

Partita: I. Fanfare: Avec allegresse et durete
Partita: II. Sarabande: Delicat - Plus anime - Tempo I - Tempo I
Partita: III. Intermezzo: Passione - Plus calme - Tempo I
Partita: IV. Final: Entrainant - Solennel
5 Canciones negras (version for voice and orchestra): No. 1. Cuba dentro de un piano
5 Canciones negras (version for voice and orchestra): No. 2. Punto de Habanera
5 Canciones negras (version for voice and orchestra): No. 3. Chevere
5 Canciones negras (version for voice and orchestra): No. 4. Cancion de Cuna para Dormir a un Negrito
5 Canciones negras (version for voice and orchestra): No. 5. Canto Negro
Calidoscopi Simfonic: I. Introduccio: Moderato
Calidoscopi Simfonic: II. Ronda i Pantomima: Allegretto mosso - Meno mosso - Poco piu (come prima)
Calidoscopi Simfonic: III. Canon i Havanera: Allegretto deciso - Meno mosso - Semplice - Tempo d'havanera
Calidoscopi Simfonic: IV. Final a la Indiana: Andante ritmico - Poco meno - Tempo I
Sinfonia de requiem: Introitus
Sinfonia de requiem: Kyrie
Sinfonia de requiem: Dies irae
Sinfonia de requiem: Agnus Dei
Sinfonia de requiem: Lux aeterna
Sinfonia de requiem: Libera me

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook

Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Already a subscriber? Sign In