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“El Amor Brujo – The Essence of the Music of Manuel De Falla” – Euskal Barrokensemble/Enrike Solinis – Alia Vox 

“El Amor Brujo – The Essence of the Music of Manuel De Falla” – Euskal Barrokensemble/Enrike Solinis – Alia Vox AV9921, 57:15, (6/09/2017) Tracklist follows ****: 

Absolutely sultry and very authentic sounding.

I have loved the music of Manuel De Falla for many years, having first heard my father’s old vinyl recordings as I was growing up. The appeal for me in de Falla and, really, all Moorish-inspired Catalan music is in its lush, gypsy inspired melodies. Players and singers in that culture write fairly simple yet attractive melodies and the embellishments placed in and on them adds the excitement and the virtuosity which makes it so captivating.

De Falla and other composers and artists grew up listening to this music, themselves, and created beautiful classical music and works of art that became the ‘essence’ of Spain with its rich but somewhat embattled history and traditions. To this day, Spain has produced few classical composers who became well known outside of Spain, let alone any who write in a style which goes outside this iconic stylistic box; beautiful though it is.

So, the Euskal Barrokensemble with this wonderful and sonically rich recording takes De Falla’s score to El Amor Brujo (“Love, the Magician”) and that of works by Rodrigo and others and plays the music in a small scale, very idiomatic way that gets at – literally – the essence of the music and its sources.

The results are absolutely mesmerizing. The large, fully realized, orchestral scores by De Falla et al are concert pleasers but if you hear the core melodies played with a truly authentic ‘gypsy’ or Moorish sound by a small ensemble of this caliber it can make you want to hear more.

The truly impressive aspects of this recording and this music’s present iteration is, therefore, not so much the music itself – sultry and magnificent to be sure. It is in the performances. This is a highly skilled and dedicated ensemble. The instrumentation is authentic, right down to Elies Hernandis’ sackbut/sacabuche as opposed to a modern orchestral trombone. He is a fine player as are all these musicians. I felt that ensemble director and excellent guitarist Enrike Solinis as well as vocalist Maria Jose Perez deserve special mention. Incidentally, to this day, De Falla’s El Amor Brujo – originally performed as the score to a theatre piece/ballet – can be performed with or without a soprano singer.

The audio engineering here by Alia Vox is clear and beautiful. The packaging too is simply gorgeous – the sleeve and booklet are works of art, really, including the cover painting by Jorge Apperley. I also was highly impressed to see the many other albums on Alia Vox by the Euskal Barrokensemble and even the cover art of many of these is enough to make me want to get go get some – knowing that the performances will be exhilarating as well!   Highly recommended!

Tracklist:

    • 1 Traditional Taranta del la Siega
    • 2 Manuel De Falla Cancion del Amor Dolido
    • 3 Manuel De Falla Danza Ritual del Fuego
    • 4 Joaquin Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez: Allegro
    • 5 Joaquin Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez: Andante
    • 6 Manuel De Falla Circulo Magico
    • 7 Domenico Scarlatti Sonata K32
    • 8 Domenico Scarlatti Sonata K141
    • 9 Dimitrie Cantemir Escena Bestenigar
    • 10 Manuel De Falla Pantomima
    • 11 Manuel De Falla Cancion del Fuego Fatuo
    • 12 Francisco Tarrega Capricho Arabe
    • 13 Manuel De Falla Danza del Juego del Amor
    • 14 Manuel De Falla Campanas del Amanecer

—Daniel Coombs

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