Black, el payaso (Sorozábal)

Renato Cesari, Leda Barclay, Alfredo Kraus, Jorge Algorta, Enriqueta Serrano, Enrique Fuentes. Coros Líricos de Hispavox, Orquesta de Conciertos de Madrid, c. Pablo Sorozábal
EMI 7243 5 74227 2 7 / or / Novoson CDNS-594

Antonio Medio, Pepita Embil, Marcelino de Llano, Manuel Gas, Enriqueta Serrano, Manuel Alares. Gran Orquesta Sinfónica del Teatro Reina Victoria de Madrid, c. Pablo Sorozábal
Blue Moon BM 7534[extended highlights]

Sorozábal's most ambitious zarzuela was written only two years after the cataclysmic end of the Civil War, and its allegory of the artist's role in society packs an unexpectedly powerful punch. The classic complete recording, conducted by the composer in 1958 with demonic fire, offers great value at over 78 minutes. It is also magnificently cast, with Cesari most subtle in the title role, and Barclay in firm, sweet form as his beloved Princess Sofía. The Ruritanian setting gives plenty of opportunity for gypsy colour, and the toe-tapping Hungarian Marche Militaire quartet (led by Serrano) is infectiously done. Notwithstanding all these, top vocal honours go to Kraus in one of his earliest zarzuela recordings. His last act czardas is one of the most exciting things even he committed to disk.

The recent appearance of the collected 1942 original cast recordings on Blue Moon, coupled with extracts from the composer's very rare La Rosario, makes a desirable pendant to the complete recording, without displacing it for any musical reason.