La picarona (Alonso)

Conchita Balparda, Julita Bermejo, Carlos Munguía, Manuel Ausensi, Gerardo Monreal. Coro Cantores de Madrid, Orquesta Sinfónica, c. Benito Lauret
BMG 82876 501162 / or / Novoson CDNS-598

Mathilde Vazquez, Rafaelita Haro, E. Hernández, Marcos Redondo, Anibal Vela. Coro General y Orquesta, c. Francisco Alonso
Blue Moon BMCD 7539 [highlights]

Alonso's musical homage to Segovia is linked to a fast-moving adventure drama, featuring thievery - including the lady picarona of the title - and romance in equal measures, the whole imbued with lashings of very effective local colour. It's a captivating mixture, and the reappearance of the classic account under Lauret is timely. Though Balparda is no Lorengar, her warmly phrased Maribel is more than simply acceptable, and both Munguía in the famous romanza Madrigal and Ausensi are on very good form indeed. The choral contribution is equally noteworthy. The transfer is disappointing, but Alonso fans will need to have this issue.

The original cast extracts on Blue Moon make a desirable appendix to that full recording. Vazquez is insecure, and Redondo sings most of both her tenor and baritone suitors' music. This is great for Redondo aficionados, but has regrettable consequences in the transposed tenor/baritone duet, where a baritone/bass combination simply doesn't sound right. This version of Madrigal, however, remains a classic example of the great baritone's unique timbre, responsive musicality and miraculously clear diction.