La revoltosa (Chapí)

María Rodriguez, Plácido Domingo, Eneida G. Garijo, Marta Moreno. Orquesta y Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid, c. Miguel Roa
RTVE Música 65150

Angeles Chamorro, Alfredo Kraus, Ines Rivedeneira, Luis de Cordoba. Coros Cantores de Madrid, Orquesta Manuel de Falla, c. Enrique García Asensio
EMI 5 74212 2

Teresa Tourné, Renato Cesari. Coro Cantores y Orquesta Conciertos de Madrid, c. Pablo Sorozábal
EMI 5 74212 2

Ana María Iriarte, Manuel Ausensi, Inés Rivadeneira, Selíca Pérez Carpio. Coros Cantores de Madrid, Orquesta Sinfónica, c. Ataulfo Argenta
Novoson Z-477

La Revoltosa is a masterpiece very difficult to bring off on CD. Chapí's score is limited in scope, and apart from the fabled duet it can seem scrappy if presented as a dry series of concert numbers. The Carillon, with Kraus as a highly seductive Felipe, successfully avoids this trap - though whether the role is suited to a tenor is an open question. His Mari-Pepa, Chamorro, deploys her rich voice somewhat unsmilingly, but elsewhere there is a tangible sense of the street about proceedings which brings the score consistently to life. The dry, close recording and very short measure at fullish price (33') are the major bars to an outright first recommendation.

The tenor question might be thought to raise its head again in the splendid new RTVE version under Roa's well-pointed direction. However, Domingo's baritonal timbre is entirely right for Felipe, and his partnership with Rodriguez's equally subtle Mari-Pepa is musically most satisfying. The suitors and their wives are well contrasted, and with good modern recording and very full text, this becomes an eminently recommendable first choice. The coupling of La Gran Vía is if anything even finer.

Despite less than ideal orchestral playing, the EMI account is just preferable to Argenta's much-loved reading. Tourné and Cesari make more of their duet, responding to one another in witty finesse where the heavy-handed Iriarte and Ausensi (less coarse than his wont) on Novoson struggle to maintain the lightness of its cut and thrust. In other respects, the brief but brilliant score is pretty well served by both accounts. Novoson offer short measure, even taking into account a copious amount of somewhat glum-sounding dialogue. The EMI is packed full with a classic account of La verbena de la Paloma, offering an irresistable chance to hear these great rival masterpieces back-to-back.