El caserío: Dúo Ana Mari y José Miguel, Romanza de Santi, Intermedio, Romanza de josé Miguel, Dúo de los bertsolaris (Pepe Romeu, Felisa Herrero, Pablo Gorgé, Orquesta sinfónica de Madrid c. Enrique Fernández Arbós, Sr. Ocaña); La meiga: Preludio, Romanza de Ramón, Dúo de Rosiña y Ramón, Romanza de Ramón con coro de tiples, Canto a Galicia (Rogelio Baldrich, Dorini de Disso, conductor not specified); La Condesa de la aguja y el dedal: Romanza de Gloria, Cuarteto cómico, Intermedio, Cuples de Leocadia, Habanera, Romanza de Gonzalo, Final Acto 2 (Pilarin Bañuls, Encarnita Máñez, Josefina Canales, Antón Navarro, Ramón Cebriá. Orquesta Sinfónica Columbia, c. Francisco Palos); Canciones castellanas: "No quiero tus avellanas", "¿Cómo quieres que adivine?" (Victoria de los Angeles, Gerald Moore)
After a delay which was beginning to look terminal, we finally have two new releases in the Serie Lírica, Blue Moons treasure trove of early zarzuela recordings. BMCD 7555 is devoted to early recordings of three zarzuelas by Jesús Guridi. His masterpiece El caserío needs little introduction, but these five extracts are the first pre-LP versions to make it to CD. Most satisfying is the 1930 version of the Act 2 Intermedio, with the great conductor Enrique Fernández Arbós and his Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid no mere pit band this! With its Basque dance rhythms, txistu-and-tabor imitations and sweeping string melodies the Intermedio is a symphonic summation of the zarzuela, and its never been heard to better advantage. Three of the other four tracks feature Pepe Romeu, vocally at his peak, communicating powerfully in José Miguels romanza Yo no sé... though without suggesting the brooding doubt conveyed by Carlo del Monte in the complete LP recording under Torroba. In the two vocal generosity leads him to rush his rhythmic fences, an idiosyncrasy to which Romeu was prone. Pablo Gorgé gives us a brief taster from a 1927 five-disc collection: his generous voice is again rhythmically unsteady, so the zortzico tread of Sasibill, mi caserío conveys less of Santis dignity than it should.
More of a draw for collectors will be the rarely heard sequence from La Meiga, a tangled love tale with a Galician setting recorded not long after the Madrid premiere in December 1928. A nameless Barcelona orchestra rips through the thrilling Act 1 Preludio. Fabled tenor Rogelio Baldrich challenges all comers in the comparatively well-known, lyrical romanza Yo te vi pasar, his well-supported, open tone and dynamic control a joy. In two other solos with chorus a dramatic scene where he defends his beloved against the female chorus charge of witchcraft, and the dignified Canto a Galicia, he is equally exciting, his ringing tone marred only slightly by incipient strain above the stave. His meiga in the luscious dúo Ay, Rosina, flor de mayo is the feather-light tiple Dorini de Disso, but this scarcely detracts from the interest of Guridis music and his tenor vocalist.
An original cast selection from La Condesa de la aguja y el dedal (1950) ends the disc. This nostalgic evocation of mid-nineteenth century Madrids music and manners in the fashionable, escapist costume-drama mode of Alonsos La zapaterita is already familiar from Homokords 1999 issue HC006, but a second audition brings renewed pleasure. Guridis score may be less personal than his earlier operas and zarzuelas, but the seven extracts are freshly presented by a cast who work well together in ensemble. A sparkling comedy cuarteto is one highlight, an imaginative orchestral evocation of dawn over Madrid another. With the Homokord selection difficult to obtain, Blue Moons equally efficient transfer make this CD well worth its modest asking price - especially when Baldrichs exploits in La meiga, and Blue Moons customary full notes, texts and illustrations are taken into account. Two of Guridis Canciones castellanas elegantly given by Victoria de los Angeles (c.1955, with Gerald Moore) make a pleasant if incongruous bonus.
© Christopher Webber 2006