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El giravolt de maig (Toldrà)

Núria Real, Marisa Martins, David Alegret, Joan Cabero, Joan Martín-Royo, Stefano Palatchi, Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, c. Antoni Ros Marbà
Harmonia Mundi France HMI 987077-78 [2-CD set]

Francesca Callao, Anna Ricci, Bartomeu Bardagi, Joan Ferrer, Raimondo Torres, Francesc Chico, Orquestra Simfònica Catalana, c. Antoni Ros Marbà
PDI 80.1059 1/2 [2-CD set]

Toldrà's May Night in the Mountains has a uniquely fragrant poetry, and its gentle comedy is not quite like anything else in the operatic repertoire. It is musically perhaps the finest stage work written to date in Catalan, so all the more pity that the 2008 Harmonia Mundi issue fails to include synopses, and has notes and libretto only in Catalan and Spanish. Otherwise it is extremely well performed, with notable contributions from Alegret and the superlative Real as the young lovers, and with only Palatchi's woolly bandit giving cause for concern. Ros Marbà's conducting is a model of pellucid restraint and the set is very heartily recommended to all those curious about Iberian lyric theatre.

Ros Marbà's conducting is equally good on his slightly brisker 1968 account, well-transferred to CD by the Catalan Department of Culture to celebrate the composer's centenary in 1995. The sound is clear, the cast is closely matched vocally with the new recording (Torres outstanding as the sympathetic, disillusioned bandit Perot) and if anything superior in wit and theatricality. With this set easy to find in Spanish retail outlets, it's almost equally recommendable.

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