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Reviews - Coro Cervantes

Coro Cervantes

Nuestro Director

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Ignacio Deleyto Alcalá


For their second CD, Coro Cervantes, conducted by Carlos Fernández Aransay, have chosen a programme of sacred music by Hispanic composers of the 20th century. As in their previous CD, "O Crux", the pieces are brief, diversity of styles guarantees an enjoyable listening and many of the works will probably be new to the listener, as they are here recorded for the first time.

With the aim to offer as wide an overview as possible, the list of composers extends from consecrated names such as Joaquín Rodrigo, Federico Mompou, Jesús Guridi and Xavier Montsalvatge to some less known such as Nemesio Otaño, Fernando Ramacha and José Antonio Donostia. There is also room for some contemporary composers like Antón García Abril, Javier Busto and César Cano, and the Halffter saga are doubly represented by Cristóbal and his uncle Ernesto. As a matter of fact, the CD takes its title from the latter's piece "Oratio". Ernesto was a pupil of Manuel de Falla and Maurice Ravel and the author of the popular "Sinfonietta". "Oratio" is a crescendo musical prayer for solo bass, alto and choir, and has some moments of great intensity.

To close the circle, we couldn't go without some Latin American music, which symbolizes the linguistic and cultural ties between the old Spain and the New Continent. Aransay reminds us - in his article in the booklet- that many Spanish composers sought refuge in Latin America. The Argentinean Alberto Ginastera, emigrated to the U.S. in 1945 after abandoning the Argentina of Perón. His Hieremiae prophetae lamentationes have been chosen by Aransay to open this programme. Contrary to many of the simple and gentle pieces of this CD, this imposing work by Ginastera in three movements is surrounded by an atmosphere of restlessness, which appears both in the first movement's aggressiveness and tension - of great theatrical effect- and in the initial absorption and final anxiety of the last one. Precision, flexibility and perfect blending of voices are the features of Coro Cervantes, which here offers a reading full of light and shadows.

In a year which sees the 30th anniversary of the death in America of Catalan cellist and conductor Pau Casals, a true symbol of a musician's political commitment, it is very appropriate to pay him homage as a composer with his brief motet O vos Omnes, written in a traditional idiom which, however, does not, avoid ample and evoking sonorities. Of similar beauty is the delightful Tantum Ergo for organ and choir by Guridi or the contemplative Ave Maria by Joaquín Rodrigo, half way between prayer and song with a touch of tenebrism and a gorgeous finale with an invocation to Virgin Mary which floats suspended in the air. Throughout the CD, Coro Cervantes show confidence, transparency, admirable balance, a just dose of expressiveness and exemplary phrasing.

We cannot end this review without urging you to listen to the two solo organ pieces enthusiastically played by Charles Matthews. Jesús Guridi is the author of the Finale for gran organ, an impressive and bombastic piece for organ that reminds one of the popular Toccata by Widor. The second piece, Aureola para una imagen de Ramón Amadeu by Xavier Montsalvatge, is a stunning work, which makes use of a broad variety of resources and has a sharp-edged middle section. The organ of St. Jude's -in the outskirts of London, where this disc was recorded last spring- has a sensational sound.

With this new title of unfrequented repertoire, which surveys our most recent choral tradition, Coro Cervantes confirms the good expectations created in their first CD. We now are curious to hear them face some of the Spanish great polyphonic compositions where they would rival other first rank choirs.