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Spanish Light (Fullana/Ventura)

Francisco Fullana (violin), Alba Ventura (piano) (Orchid Classics)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Spanish Light
Works by Turina, Sarasate, Granados, Toldrà, Manen and Casals
Francisco Fullana (violin), Alba Ventura (piano)
Orchid Classics ORC100250   60:31 mins

Francisco Fullana is a violinist of thrilling expressive range and touch, most recently in the excellent album, Bach’s Long Shadow. His latest, with the excellent pianist Alba Ventura, takes its inspiration from the classical music of Spain (his homeland – Fullana is from Majorca) in a subtle interrogation of Spanish inflections from Granados and Sarasate to Toldrà and Turina, that subverts any preconceptions the title might suggest. There is an insistence, too, on Catalan composers – Ventura is herself from Barcelona.

Any sense that an album of Spanish music is going to start in recognisable vein is immediately tripped up by the stark entry of the violin in Turina’s Violin Sonata
No. 2, an intense work given suitably intense styling by Fullana and Ventura. But Fullana’s style changes effortlessly for Sarasate’s Romanza Andaluza. Folkish, smooth, the subsequent wild virtuosity of the well-known Zigeunerweisen and its invocation of Hungarian/gypsy sounds is full of insistently legato bowing and flamboyant panache before the virtuosic finale.

There is more contrast with Granados’s Violin Sonata – the low-key opening of gentle piano chords is evocatively judged by Ventura as Fullana sings the line above. The Manén caprice with its mournful opening violin, is played with sweet tone on the violin and hints of a more melancholy depth in Ventura’s sensitive piano. Fullana and Ventura finish with the hauntingly beautiful traditional Catalan Christmas song, El Cant dels Ocells (the Song of the Birds) adapted by Fullana from the arrangement made famous by cellist Pablo Casals. It is a beautiful, almost elegiac ending to this very rewarding recital.

Sarah Urwin Jones

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