Moros y Cristianos (Serrano)

Ana María Iriarte, Carlos Munguía. Coro Cantores de Madrid, Orquesta Sinfónica, c. Ataúlfo Argenta
BMG Alhambra WD 74389 / or / Novoson Z-550

Cora Raga, Vicente Sempere, Augusto Gonzalo, Manuel Murcia. Gran Orquesta y Coro, c. Antonio Capdevila
Blue Moon BMCD 7524

Judging from the hearty pipe-smoking infidels on the BMG cover you might guess Moros y Cristianos was a light, género chico comedy. You would be wrong. Serrano's one-acter is a star-crossed romance of mediaeval Spain with Moors and Christians replacing Montagues and Capulets. Despite its brevity (less than 20') it's a substantial piece requiring full chorus and dance troop - not to mention two very capable soloists for the lovers, whose music is demanding as well as beautiful.

Munguía excels himself on the 1950's recording, spinning a controlled legato line to complement his very individual timbre. Iriarte's gusty voice production is less ingratiating, but their duet still comes across with sympathetic warmth. Choral and orchestral contributions are very positive; and Argenta brings a touch of real poetry to Serrano's technicolour alhambrismo.

Capdevila's brisker pace gives the choral and dance scenes a real sense of urgency, though he relaxes appropriately for the lyrical love scene. Raga's full-throated passion has an exotic edge to it, and though Sempere is penny plain by comparison he partners her well enough. The 1931 recording and transfer are good, though about 5' orchestral material is cut. Blue Moon's coupling of La Dolorosa recordings by Emilio Vendrell, is much more appropriate (and generous) than BMG's choice - Chueca's genial farce, El chaleco blanco.