MANUEL DE FALLA: Spanish Dance from La Vida Breve; El Amor Brujo; 3 Excerpts from The Three-Cornered Hat; Seven Popular Spanish Songs; Homenaje; Your Small Black Eyes – The Katona Twins, guitars, with sop. & percussion – Channel Classics

by | Jan 17, 2010 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

MANUEL DE FALLA: Spanish Dance from La Vida Breve; El Amor Brujo (complete transcription); 3 Excerpts from The Three-Cornered Hat; Seven Popular Spanish Songs; Homenaje (The Tomb of Debussy); Your Small Black Eyes – The Katona Twins, guitars/Juanita Lascarro, soprano/ David Garcia Mir, percussion – Channel Classics multichannel SACD CCS SA 28809, 57:00 [Dist. by Harmonia mundi] *****:

Peter and Zoltan Katona are the Hungarian-born Katona Twins – one of the concert world’s best-known guitar duos. They are extremely courageous to perform this transcription for guitars, percussion and soprano of the spectacular soprano-with-orchestra original of Falla’s Love, the Magician. They do make one additional step toward realization of the very demanding music, by using electric guitars and Roland guitar synths on this work.  Only the Homenaje was written by Falla especially for the guitar, and it appears that the Katona’s did their own transcriptions of the other pieces.

The resultant transformation of the gypsy ballet is quite amazing. The love story about the gypsy girl who can only be free of the evil spirit of her murdered husband when she is kissed by a true love seems to fit the new guitar-based setting even better than with the full symphony.  The classic Fire Dance sparkles, and the wild gypsy flavor permeates the entire work.  The three dances from the Three-Cornered Hat are also a delight to hear in this new costuming. The Seven Songs were originally for soprano and piano accompaniment, and work beautifully with the pair of guitars. Some of the melodies will be very familiar from other Spanish music.

The addition of the percussion on some of the selections points up the strong flamenco-slanted rhythms in them.  The crystalline surround reproduction also adds to the impact of this brilliant music.

 – John Sunier

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