WORKS: 12 tonadillas
PERFORMER: Teresa Berganza (mezzo-soprano); Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico/Elias Arizcuren
CATALOGUE NO: AMB 9908
Some issues have ‘collector’s item’ written all over them. What will Teresa Berganza’s last record be? The voice is supple and direct at 65, so surely not this one. Snap it up rather because an album of song arrangements for cello octet may not stay around long without a certain Villa-Lobos number, and the artistry on show is quite something.
The combination of cello tone with Berganza’s rich lower-register colour range makes for one of its splendours as she dips and weaves her way through the string textures; vibrato is a mite less controlled at the top. The cellos have a springy firmness of rhythm to support the sustained lines. Granados’s lyrico-tragic melodies, 18th-century in inspiration but Romantic in reality, draw on Berganza’s flair for making the words tell, while the lighter valse-like songs have a proper dance character.
Jesús Guridi, a Basque composer from the early 20th century, distinguishes himself in a well-assorted set of quite suggestive Castilian character songs, now lyrical and now rhythmically vital, notable for quick responses to poetic feeling. Falla’s score, without its songs, makes a slightly perverse finale, full of ingenious orchestral substitutes (and real bells) but probably – like The Rite of Spring for piano duet – more thrilling live. Robert Maycock