Coro Cervantes

Nuestro Director

International Record Review (01/10/2004)
Ivan Moody

This is another first-class anthology of practically unknown choral music from Coro Cervantes, complementing to perfection its previous collection on Guild, O Crux. While many will at least have heard the names of Ernesto and Cristóbal Halffter, Jesús Guridí and Xavier Montsalvatge, the only composers who are likely to be at all familiar here are the Argentinian Ginastera and the Catalan Mompou. It is not going too far, I think, to say that Ginastera´s turbulent but masterly work is the highlight of the disc. The Lamentations are extremely austere, the biblical text reflecting the composer¹s own political exile during the Perón era, but their angularity is relieved by frequent flashes of light and passages of sombrely beautiful reflective calm, often modally inflected, such as the beginning of the second section, Ego vir videns. When I first studied this difficult score years ago, accompanied by a decrepit tape from the publishers, I despaired of hearing a truly excellent performance. I¹m glad to say that Coro Cervantes has proved
my pessimism to be entirely unfounded: this is a tour de force. However, there are a number of other works in this varied anthology that cry out to be better known, among them Ernesto Halffter¹s splendid Oratio and Javier Busto's unusual and radiant Agnus Dei. The former reveals a true gift for choral writing, using the bass and alto soloists with great subtlety and employing choral textures that suggest a composer such as Grechaninov, while the latter¹s dramatic textural switching would provide challenges in pitching for any choir ­ the singers of Coro Cervantes take them in their stride. Mompou's urgently pleading and quite lovely Ave Maria is also a memorable piece, betraying, as do other works here recorded, a French influence in its harmonic vocabulary. Pablo Casals I have always found to be an interesting composer, with quite an original feeling for structure and harmony. His effective O vos omnes, while not unknown, deserves to be performed more often than it is. (Incidentally, the text has accidentally been omitted from the otherwise careful booklet.) If Cristóbal Halffter¹s Panis angelicus is unexpectedly approachable, it is because of its early date ­ according to Emilio Casares Rodicio's book on the composer, it was written in 1954, when Halffter was 24 ­ and one can hardly recognize in it the composer of Variaciones sobre la resonancia de un grito, for example. For unusual repertoire, Coro Cervantes wins one gold medal, and for its passionate readings another. I am now burning with curiosity to know what music it will find to fill a third disc.