Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

WORKS: Diez melodías vascas; Así cantan los chicos; En un barco fenicio; Una aventura de Don Quijote; Canta el gallo tempranero
PERFORMER: Isabel Álvarez (soprano); Chorus of the Conservatory of the Bilbao Choral Society, Bilbao SO/Juan José Mena
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557110
Best known for his zarzuelas, Jesús Guridi (1886-1961) had the versatility of a Basque Elgar, and his music straddles a range between the latter’s poetic nationalism and the colourful vivacity of Massenet. In this engaging hour’s worth, the most immediately fetching work is the suite of Basque tune arrangements. It’s direct and emotional, though sophisticated in its scoring and harmony, and it’s a style that can make a single piece evolve from melancholy to grandeur or perkiness to pride.


Equally touching is the three-part children’s poem, Así cantan los chicos. While singable by children, its perspective is adult. An initial rosy but enchanting atmosphere gives way to a funeral scene – handled with an apt lightness – and returns to play with more vigour and a few shadows. Two narrative tone poems – En un barco fenicio tells the story of Telemachus – show a flair for colour, quick-changing pace, and a sense of steady growth that makes the most of material without strong character of its own.


Canta el gallo tempranero ends the disc with suave Castilian inflections. Isabel Álvarez sings it persuasively, and Juan José Mena gets the best from an orchestra whose timbres are bright but whose ensemble is at times only just there. Robert Maycock