La tabernera del puerto
Leda Barclay, Alfredo Kraus, Renato
Cesari, Jorge Algorta. Coro Cantores y Orquesta Conciertos de Madrid, c. Pablo
EMI 5 74158 2 (2-CD)
/ or / Novoson Z-572/1-2 (2-CD)
María Bayo, Plácido
Domingo, Juan Pons, Enrique Baquerizo. Orféon Donostiarra, Orquesta
Sinfónica de Galicia, c. Víctor Pablo Pérez
Auvidis Valois V4766
Isabel Penagos, Julián
Molina, Pedro Farrés, Julio Catania. Coro Cantores de Madrid, Orquesta
Sinfónica, c. Pablo Sorozábal
Zafiro 1030-2, 1031-2 (2 CDs, oas)
Ana Higueras, Juan Manuel Ariza,
Manuel Ausensi, Víctor de Narke. Coro Cantores de Madrid, Orquesta
Sinfónica, c. Pablo Sorozábal
BMG Alhambra 71469 (2)
María Espinalt, Pepita
Embil, Enriqueta Serrano, Vicente Simón, Antonio Medio, Marcos Redondo,
Manuel Gas, [Marcelino del Llano]. c. Pablo Sorozábal, Pascual
Blue Moon BMCD
The composer's own 1958 EMI recording has classic
status. Though the Auvidis is incomparably better recorded, vocally the
comparison with the old set is swings and roundabouts. Bayo's Marola,
witty and alluring by turns leaves little to be desired, though
Barclay's simpler reading is often touching. Both tenors are thrilling,
Domingo again amazingly youthful-sounding, the young Kraus
lighter and more flexible. Cesari's Eguía is much more vivid than
Juan Pons on the Auvidis, though his tasteful "gentleman-pirate" may not
be brutal enough for some. Despite its transcendent popularity, La tabernera
del puerto is in some ways less distinctive than Sorozábal's
very best works, and the new set, excellently sung and played though it is,
tends to highlight the score's debts - not least to Debussy's La Mer and
Guridi's Basque Scenes.
Under the composer's direction such doubts never surface,
and his superior rhythmic vitality makes up for any coarseness in the playing.
A complication is that though it now fits snugly onto one disc, the EMI still
comes as part of a 2-CD package. Still, as the other half of the double-bill is
an equally memorable account of La del manojo de
rosas with Pilar Lorengar - essential for committed
Sorozábalians - there's nothing lost and much gained.
The composer's 1968 BMG remake isn't in this league.
For one thing, it includes extra dialogue glumly delivered, and slips onto two
mid-price discs; and although Ariza gives it his best shot, his Leandro
simply isn't in the same class as Domingo or Kraus. There is a good sense of
theatre, Higueras's very young-sounding Marola is very appealing, whilst
Ausensi portrays the thuggish aspect of Eguía to the manner born;
but overall the set represents no real alternative to its predecessor.
The latest of the three complete versions under the composer
is notable for its Marola. Penagos reins in her ample forces with fair
success in "En un país de fábula", and in the
dúos and ensembles her operatic warmth and artistry are superb.
Farrés is an Eguía powerfully strong of voice, who grows
in character as his story unfolds. One problem is that his rich baritone and
quick vibrato are not sufficently contasted with Catania's sepulchral
Simpson, but there's no gainsaying his vocal distinction. Molina is a
penny-plain but effective Leandro; and the composer's more measured and
romantic direction is effective as ever, in tolerable stereo.
The compilation of historic extracts taken from a variety of
sources on Blue Moon is generously coupled with a similar selection from Don Manolito, but the stellar singers themselves are
somewhat disappointing. Gas as the English sailor Simpson is
tremendously powerful in his (truncated) tango "Despierta negro", but
neither Espinalt nor Simón provide pleasant listening as
the young lovers. One oddity is that the barely workmanlike "No puede
ser" is not Simón's as claimed, but an alternative performance made
after the civil war by an obscure Asturian tenor, Marcelino de Llano.
The comic numbers featuring the composer's wife Serrano, and
Plácido Domingo's mother Embil as Marola, provide the most
satisfying moments in an uneven selection.