Las Leandras (Alonso)

Celia Gámez, Aníbal Vela. Orquesta c. Francisco Alonso
Blue Moon BMCD 7542 / or / Novoson Z-566

Delia Rubens, Mimí Aznar, Tino Moro, Coro de RNE, Orquesta de Cámara de Madrid, c. Daniel Montorio
Orfeon/Montilla 25CDE-246

Las Leandras is synonymous with Celia Gámez. Blue Moon's complete reissue of her 1931 recordings is an automatic first choice, with the great Argentianian chanteuse in all her glory, not least for the rarely heard "Clara Bow, gentil star" which closes Act 1. Gámez didn't include this in her post-war revisit (not currently available) and though her later recordings of "Pichi", "Los nardos" and the rest exude experienced charms, the original cast set under Alonso himself has youthful freshness and verve.

The 1960's Zafiro LP is not without its points. Veteran conductor Montorio gives us the medley-prelude missing from the old 78s, though frustratingly omits the jazzy "Clara Bow". The star's numbers are split between two singers. Aznar (though not specified by Zafiro) sings "Las Canarías" with a soaring lyricism which reveals unexpectedly melancholic overtones to Alonso's score. Rubens (likewise unspecified) hits the target with "Pichi", very much in the Gámez mould - though she and Moro don't imbue their habanera duet with the tongue-in-cheek passion that Gámez and Vela effortlessly turned in thirty years before. In any case, the Zafiro is only semi-officially available (if at all) on an uncoupled, 23 minute, badly lifted Montilla transfer. The Blue Moon comes appropriately coupled with another good Alonso revista, Las castigadoras, and two intriguing Gámez encores - good value, and a walk-over.