El baile de Luis Alonso (Giménez)

Inés Rivadeneira, Teresa Berganza, Carlos Munguía, Gerardo Monreal, Ana María Fernández. Coro Cantores de Madrid, Orquesta Sinfónica, c. Ataulfo Argenta
Novoson Z-489

Although they are set in Cadiz rather than Madrid, the twin sainetes líricos, La boda ... and El baile de Luis Alonso, represent for many the quintessence of genéro chico zarzuela. Anyone who only knows the famous Intermedios from La baile and its 'prequel' is in for a treat - all of the music concerning the amorous and professional problems of the famous Andalucian dance master is in the same vein of sparkling, sun-drenched melodic grace. Although La boda ("The wedding") was written second, it explains much of what goes on El baile ("The dance") and Novoson's decision to separate the twins in their reissues seems stupidly perverse. El baile now appears illogically coupled with Caballero's El cabo primero.

As the hapless Luis Alonso, Munguía gives one of his very best performances in the long Alhambra series. There are equally vivid contributions from Rivadeneira as his two-timing spouse, Berganza as a seductive gypsy girl - her song and the extended dance lesson are highspots - and Monreal as an attractive guitarrist. Argenta directs with affectionate zest, the choral contribution is first class, and altogether this is one of the treasures of the BMG catalogue.