Serebrier conducts GRANADOS = Works by GRANADOS; TOLDRA; MALATS; CHAPI; MORERA; MONASTERIO; ALBENIZ; GRIGNON – Concerto Malaga String Orchestra/ Jose Serebrier – Somm Celeste

Serebrier conducts GRANADOS = GRANADOS: Andaluza; Oroental; Pequena Romanza for String Quartet; El Himno de los Muertos; Intermezzo from Goyesca; TARREGA:  Recuerdos de la Alhambra; Gran Vals; TOLDRA: Nocturna; MALATS: Serenata; CHAPI: Nocturno; MORERA: Desolacio; MONASTERIO: Andante Religioso for Strings; ALBENIZ: Tango, Op. 165, No. 2; Mallorca, Op. 202; GRIGNON: Lento Expresivo for String Orchestra – Concerto Malaga String Orchestra/ Jose Serebrier – Somm Celeste SOMMCD 0171, 62:21 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

Serebrier and the Concerto Malaga celebrate the rich legacy of Barcelona and Iberian musical impulses.

Recorded in August, 2016, these Spanish works led by Jose Serebrier resonate with an especial affection, since Enrique Granados (1867-1916) expresses the Catalan and Andalusian spirit in his Danzas Espanolas, in these orchestral arrangements by Fran Farraga, Ken Abeling, Eduardo Lopez-Chavarri. The string ensemble Concerto Malaga, itself established in 1996, specializes in string repertory, and so has evolved a warm, burnished sound that fits exactly the aural space that Serebrier inherited as a protégé of Leopold Stokowski. The Andaluza and Oriental that open the program constitute standard Granados classic fare.

Granados often celebrated Barcelona’s music life; and in this respect, the music of colleague Enric Morera (1865-1942) proves relevant. His affecting, often dissonantly uneasy piece, Desolacio projects a nervous angst not soon forgotten. Composers Ruperto Chapi (1851-1909) and Jesus de Monasterio (1836-1903) bring Madrid to the forefront of their music. The latter’s Andante Religioso for Strings (1872) and Andantino Expresivo (1881) cast an easy, romantic haze that has the familiar warmth we associate with Edward Elgar.  Chapi’s 1891 Notturno derives from a zarzuela—a Spanish form of episodic operetta—El Rey que Rabio. Though Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909) had been born in Valencia, he too spent much time in Barcelona, perfecting his art in guitar. His 1896 Recuerdos de la Alhambra, meant as a Moorish meditation in tremolando for guitar, has a lovely string arrangement by Klas Krantz. The 1902 Gran Vals, in Victor Yelamo’s arrangement, projects a slightly askew salon dance that a Chopin or Chabrier might claim without embarrassment.

Besides the five selections from Granados—of which the mighty 1915 Intermezzo from Goyescas boasts a performance that rivals the old Stokowski on RCA—Serebrier includes two favorites from the other Iberian giant, Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909). Of Basque parentage and raised in Barcelona and Madrid, Albeniz became a world traveler whose music embraced more global styles than did music by compatriot Granados. We know the famous Tango in D of 1890 more from the piano transcription by Leopold Godowsky, but this string version by Scott J. Roudebush has Serebrier’s forces in full lilt.   The haunted Mallorca, also from 1890, has been arranged by Werner Thomas-Mifune and Carlos Picazo.

Eduard Toldra (1895-1962) of Barcelona is new to me, and his Notturno (1921) from Vistas al Mar, Evocaciones Poeticas, again carries that “Elgarian” melodic hue of a rich, romantic patina. Another Barcelona musical product, Joaquin Malats (1872-1942) has a sweet tango in the form of Serenata Espanola (1896) whose erotic string ensemble begs for Rita Cansino (aka Rita Hayworth) to realize its dance steps. Ricard Lamote de Grignon (1899-1962), noted conductor and composer, offers his Lento expresivo as a melancholy tribute to Barcelona that Serebrier’s violas and cellos clearly relish. Some of the harmonies point further east, to Slavic or gypsy influences.

—Gary Lemco

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