Nebra ¥ Boccherini

COMPOSERS: Boccherini,Nebra
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Nebra , Boccherini
WORKS: Nebra: Arias de zarzuelas • Boccherini: Sinfonia, Op. 12 No. 4 (La Casa del Diavolo)
PERFORMER: María Bayo (soprano); Al Ayre Español/Eduardo López Banzo
CATALOGUE NO: HMI 987069
Zarzuela is a term with a long history. Before it became identified in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with a characteristically Spanish form of operetta, in the 17th and 18th it was attached to an indigenous operatic genre that was more serious in scope. One of its leading exponents in the latter period was José de Nebra (1702-68), a largely forgotten name today but an important one in his time. Having discovered some of his music, the Spanish period-instrument specialist Eduardo López Banzo has become a passionate advocate, as he explains in the DVD that comes with the main disc here and that also offers visual performances of some of the arias.

Advertisement

They are delightfully sung by María Bayo, whose light and precise vocalism suits this music exactly, and played by Banzo’s ensemble Al Ayre Español, who produce entirely delectable sounds. Nebra’s arias, often from works with mythological or pastoral texts, are full of ingenious harmonic and instrumental touches, and clearly the work of a master; the nearest comparison might be, say, with Vivaldi. They certainly prove well worth exploring, and are nicely complemented here by a symphony by Boccherini that borrows ideas from Gluck’s Don Juan. George Hall