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Tabea Zimmermann (viola), Javier Perianes (piano) (Harmonia Mundi)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Piazzolla: Le Grand Tango; Falla: Siete Canciones populares españolas; Casals: En sourdine; Cançó catalana, No. 1 – En el mirall canviant de la mar blava; El ángel travieso; Tres estrofas de amor; Montsalvage: Canciones Negras; Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 – Aria; Granados: Tonadillas al estilo antiguo; Albéniz: Espana, Op. 165 – Tango
Tabea Zimmermann (viola), Javier Perianes (piano)
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902648   67:58 mins

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The violist Tabea Zimmermann and pianist Javier Perianes make a good team in this disc of transcriptions plotting a journey around Spain and Latin America. They start in Argentina with Piazzolla’s Grand Tango, written for Rostropovich, and while this big, brash showstopper makes a slightly heavy-handed opener it puts into relief the dreaminess of the second track, ‘Cuba in a piano’ from Xavier Montsalvatge’s Cinco Canciones Negras, which offers a haunting Caribbean reverie in Zimmermann and Perianes’s distant, song-like playing. In fact, all these pieces use melodies that were originally sung, with the exception of the Piazzolla and the Tango from Albéniz’s España, which closes the disc as if in a deserted milonga.

In the Montsalvatge, the hymn-like lines of Chévere bring out an aching, keening quality in Zimmermann’s tone, one heard to forceful effect in the flamenco-like curlicues of ‘Polo’, from Falla’s Siete canciones populares Españolas. Granados’s Tonadillas en estilo antiguo are less familiar but just as atmospheric, and there are also four miniatures by Pablo Casals that would beg to be sung if Zimmermann were not colouring them so lyrically. Playing on a glorious-sounding instrument made by Patrick Robin only last year, she can elsewhere occasionally sound a touch self-conscious in the more pointed phrasing. Perianes, however, brings to everything just the right rhythmic flexibility, supportive of Zimmermann but never merely receding into the background. It would be good to hear them tackle some meatier repertoire together; in the meantime, this is a disc that’s easy to enjoy.

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Erica Jeal