Gigantes y Cabezudos (Caballero)

Lily Berchman, Sánchez Cano. Cantores Líricos de Madrid, Orquesta de Cámara de Madrid, c. Daniel Montorio / Enrique Navarro
Zafiro 50603002

Ana Maria Iriarte, Carlos Munguia, Nicholas Aldanondo, Maria Teresa Erdozain. Coro de camera de Orfeón Donostiarra, Orquesta Sinfónica, c. Ataulfo Argenta
Novoson Z-485

Maria Espinalt, Teresa Sanchez, Jose Permanyer. Coro de niñas, Coro Capilla Clásica Polifónica del F.A.D. de Barcelona, Orquesta Sinfónica Española, c. Rafael Ferrer
EMI 5 74155 2

Mercedes Melo, Tino Folgar, Pedro Vidal
Orquesta y coros, c. Concordio Gelabert

Blue Moon BMCD 7509

Of the three 'modern' performances, the Zafiro issue with Lily Berchman - the early stage name for Dolores Pérez - is much the best. The intensity of her identification with the heroine Pilar is vividly conveyed, and the whole performance has an energy absent from its competitors. Cano does well in Jesús's crucial solo, and the chorus scenes are thrilling. A bad mark to Zafiro for failing to let us know who the minor soloists are, and including virtually no documentation. That - and the fact the issue is getting hard to find - are the only difficulties about this CD.

The Novoson is probably the better of its two not very enticing rivals. The alternative, a lively reading on EMI conducted by Rafael Ferrer, has scrawny sound and an acid-toned Pilar from the ageing María Espinalt. There is more substance to Argenta's account, though the recording is thin, and Iriate's Pilar sounds matronly in the extreme - but in all honesty her somewhat lumpen performance here is not unaffecting. Munguia contributes a stylish Jesús, and the jotas go with a swing. In the absence of the Zafiro, this short CD would fill the gap.

The classic account from Barcelona forces under Gelabert on Blue Moon is better in nearly every way. Melo is not ideal - her tone is strident rather than lovely, and the music lies high for her - but she makes a more credibly young Pilar than her rivals, and the whole performance (graced by Folgar's beautifully finessed Jesús) is alive to a degree that most of the newer recordings fail to match. It is coupled with an equally treasurable La viejecita and represents great value.