Toldrˆ/Casals/Montsalvatge

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Toldrˆ/Casals/Montsalvatge
LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: Vistes al mar; Quartet ‘Per l’art’; Sant Martí del Canigó; Concertino 1, Concertino 13; Tres postals il luminades
PERFORMER: Andorran National CO/Gerard Claret
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5482
It seemed an exciting prospect. String pieces by two pretty unknown Catalonian composers and that famous pipe-toting cellist Pablo Casals. But although the AndorranNational Chamber Orchestra make pleasant listening, this music is retro, with past bells ringing amidst nothing too inventive.

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Eduard Toldrà’s Quartet for Art (1914) is arranged here by director Gerard Claret for string orchestra but, unfortunately, it all feels too heavy. It would have been far better to retain its precious Classical-Romantic workings in four single voices. Toldrà’s Views of the Sea (1920) exults in unchallenging, honest melodies: a few desolate moments contrast with criss-crossing, happy harmonies. Casals’s Sant Martí del Canigó (1947) is based on the sardana, the national dance of Catalonia and was written whilst in exile. Although Casals’s intention must have been to paint a nostalgic portrait rather than a throw-your-hands-in-the-air-and-beat-time-with-your-feet image, it needs rougher treatment than is given here.

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Claret’s fat lower violin register bellows out the atonal lines written for ‘1’ in Xavier Montsalvatge’s Concerto 1 + 13 (1975). The piece contains some dodgy episodes, but he is a committed soloist and keeps the momentum going throughout. Kate Sherriff