Coro Cervantes

Nuestro Director

Organists' Review (01/05/2003)
John Collins

According to the concisely informative notes, it is a wonder, given the political upheavals in 19th century Spain, that there was any sacred music at all. Not until 1903 was its importance re- established. On this CD we have almost 80 minutes of excellent music, interpreted by the brilliant young director Carlos Fernández Aransay. Some of the names will certainly be well-known from compositions in other media, but many of the others may well be encountered for the first time; the great majority of these pieces are world premiere recordings.  

The first piece on the CD, a psalm from the Office for the Dead by Albéniz, is slow, predominantly chordal and sombre and sets the mood beautifully. The Salve setting by Granados has some imaginative organ phrases as interludes, whilst in the setting by Bréton a chant introduces a more modern idiom. One of the best pieces on the disc is the Salve by Ledesma, an organist from Aragon. The Salutaris by Vives has an organ accompaniment with repeated chords in the LH, and is almost operatic; after a soprano solo the full choir enters for the repetition of the text. The setting by Arriaga, who died aged only 20 in 1826, is much gentler - one can only wonder what the boy may have produced had he lived longer. Sor's O Crux has a finely melodic soprano line, and the two pieces by Eslava (better known, perhaps, for his comprehensive organ method) are simple and effective, Bone Pastor being a rare work here in triple time. The two pieces by Barbieri both have some highly dramatic word-painting, here rendered with precision by the choir. L'herba de l'amor by Granados has a nicely intonated soprano solo, (the text is sung in Catalan), leading to a gradual build up of voices. In similar vein is the build up in Qui manducat by de Monasterio. Vicente Goicoechea's Christe Factus est is highly chromatic. Despite many of them being slow in pace and frequently dark in mood, the other works all have their own charm, and the director's enthusiasm and love for this music is evident 'Thee choir have responded with an excellent disciplined performance, and Tansy Castledine's sympathetic organ accompaniment is never obtrusive.  

The accompanying booklet gives an interesting historical background and brief notes on the composers, the specification of the organ used (Exeter College, Oxford), and especially useful for those wishing to explore the pieces for themselves there is a list of the publishers of the modern editions. For the reviewer, it was a an wonderful introduction to Spanish choral music of the post-Baroque; I do hope that Carios Aransay will make many more such recordings to bring us the riches of this repertoire.