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Spain (Franz Halász)

Franz Halász (guitar) (BIS)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Milán: Pavanas Nos 1-6; Turina: Guitar Sonata; plus works by Albéniz, Falla, Granados, Sainz de la Maza, Sor, Tárrega & Torroba
Franz Halász (guitar)
BIS BIS-2565 (CD/SACD)   81:58 mins


Franz Halász moves to Spain for his latest recording, an assessment of the warring factions of modern interpretations of the peasant tradition, or flamenco, from those composers who favoured grappling somewhat existentially, not to say impressionistically, with expressing a ‘lost’ music, to those who championed the more conservative ‘castizo’ tradition of Castilian traditional music. Both sides remained largely entrenched as the years went by, but it certainly produced some fabulous music.

The repertoire covered is varied, from de Falla’s Homenaje a Debussy – its contents based on Debussy’s own homages to Spain – to Turina’s innovative, fleeting Guitar Sonata (Op. 61). There are arrangements by Halász of Spanish warhorses, particularly Albéniz’s ‘Granada’ and ‘Cádiz’ – here light, good-humoured – from the Suite Española. And yet Halász avoids cliché, the more familiar repertoire tempered by the lesser known, and contrasts of style and substance.

Halász’s playing is deeply expressive, finding a huge variety of tones. He is attentive to detail, whether in the somewhat meditative Renaissance Pavanas by Luys de Milán, played tenderly, or the dichotomies of Granados’s ‘La Maja de Goya’, as idiosyncratic as the painter himself. The awkwardness, the deliberate thunkiness of its bass line is emphasised under Halász’s fingers, its melody shimmering in contrast. The Turina Guitar Sonata – the first playing, here, of its earliest existing manuscript – is full of thundering attack and lucidity, thrillingly vibrant and insistent, or quiet and pictorial. It reflects the culture clash of the two modes of musical expression that dominate this recording.


Sarah Urwin Jones