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Over last few months there has been a modest flow of new CD releases which fall within our range of interest, from which I have selected some highlights which hopefully you will find compelling.

We start with Naxos which tirelessly expands its range of Iberian and Latin American music, frequently bringing us rare or seldom-heard repertoire, and balancing generally good performances at a budget price. They have some good dedicated composer-piano music surveys, and hard on the heels of Granados and Mompou we now have Volume 6 of Albeniz’ piano music played by Santiago L. Sacristan which contains mainly early works (8573295) and Volume 7 (8573160) played by Hernam Milla which includes the 3rd Sonata. His compatriot, Turina, is represented by Jordi Maso on Volume 10 (8573183) with mainly later less well-known pieces. Going back a few centuries, we are on Volume 4 of Soler’s keyboard sonatas played on the piano by Mateus Borowiak (8573281).

If you wish to dip your toes into rarer Mompou repertoire you should sample the latest series of his songs. Pianist Jordi Maso accompanies soprano Marta Matheu in Volume 2 (8573100) which looks interesting, with the first disc being very well received.

The next enterprising series is the Moreno Torroba’s complete Guitar Concertos played by the inimitable Pepe Romero. Volume 1 is now out (8573255), with new performances to update your collection. Also for guitar afficionados, a fascinating collection titled Guitar Music of Colombia (8573059) played by the excellent Jose Antonio Escobar. Staying with the guitar and a very new release, featuring Marcello Fantoni, brings us an admirable collection of solo works by Manuel Castillo (8573365) and the Guitar Quintet.

From the Golden age of Portuguese music there is an interesting release of Pinho Vargas’ Requiem and Judas (573277) sung and played by the exemplary Gulbenkian Choir and Orchestra.

Finally some fine orchestral music with the latest symphonies of Leonardo Balada, No. 6 (8573298), Salvador Brotons, No. 6 (8573361) and Roberto Sierra, No. 4 (8559738), all with excellent conductors and orchestras.

Of course there is a very consistent flow of fine recordings from Spanish labels, really too numerous and wide-ranging to list, but I was very pleased to see that in the UK, MDT and Presto Classical sell a wide range of releases on-line from Glossa, Verso and Columna Musica, which leaves the likes of RTVE and Trito to their own websites. Serendipitously I found that Presto also have a full catalogue of downloads from the classy Argentine label Tradition, sadly no longer trading. Some can be found on iTunes and Amazon, but only a limited number. The label is esoteric and you will find much that may be unfamiliar, but the recordings are excellent, and if you are lucky to find the CDs, the packaging and notes are excellent.

Returning to Trito, for an outstanding contemporary issue which has been critically praised is a release that features the Percussion Concerto (TD0103) from the distinguished avant-gard composer Joan Guinjoan, directed superbly by Jaime Martin. If you don’t mind iTunes, it is presently available at a snip for £1.99.

Staying in Spain and a vocal recital alluringly titled Canción amorosa: Songs of Spain, is a very interestingly programmed recital which has also attracted critical praise and features the opulent soprano Corinne Winters, accompanied characteristically on the piano by Stephen Blier. It is released on GPR Records (GPR70013). Sono Luminus, known for its ultra-high resolution recordings, bring us two String Quartets by Ruperto Chapi, the 19th-century Spanish composer better known for his zarzuella (DSL92185). This is a very enterprising issue and whilst one should not expect the music to be ground-breaking, we should commend the label and the Cuarteto Latinoamericano who act as experienced guides in this unfamiliar territory. I strongly recommend a recording this wonderful quartet made for this label a couple of years ago of the melodic and well-crafted music for string quartet by the Brazilian, Francisco Mignone (DSL92147).

Crossing to South America, we encounter Alma brasileira from the established duo Franz and Deborah Halasz in a recital of attractive guitar and piano duets from Radames Gnatalli, released on BIS, BIS2086. Gnatalli does tend to be overshadowed by his contemporaries but he is considered to be the moderniser of the choro. His music has great immediacy and in this duo’s hands there is much to commend it.

Most of us will be familiar with Hyperion’s lauded series The Romantic Piano Concerto, and Volume 64 (CDA67984) brings us two rarities, the Piano Concerto Op. 10 by the Brazilian Henrique Oswald and the second concerto of his Portuguese contemporary, Artur Napoleao. Artur Pizarro is an assured advocate of these well-written pieces, which are not just mere showpieces, and in her booklet notes Nancy Lee Harper reveals much about these less familiar composers and their music. My curiosity piqued, I was rewarded with the discovery of the Oswald’s Symphony Op. 43, available on iTunes. A symphony in the romantic tradition, this is perhaps not the greatest pice but it offers in an acceptable recording and reveals another side of this composer, who not so long ago was really only known for a few piano pieces.

The Argentina Album is a well balanced release of music for chamber orchestra from Channel Classics (CCSS 33014), featuring the music of Ginastera, Golijov and Piazzolla. Led by Candida Thompson, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta offer compelling interpretations, very well recorded, of music that clearly has an international appeal and deserves much wider coverage.

Finally take a trip back in time, to Peru at the turn of the 19th century, and acquaint yourself with the music of the man known as 'The Rossini of South America'! Pedro Ximénez de Abrill was the Master of Music at Sucre Cathedral, a prolific composer now largely forgotten, with little published. This changed ten years ago when a collection of handwritten manuscripts was offered for sale in Bolivia. The collection was validated and is now held in the country’s national archive. Alexander-Sergei Ramírez, a guitarist of great experience, offers us a first glimpse of this collection on a CD titled Guitarra clásica del Perú released by AVI-music (AVI 8553316). He plays 23 of the 100 minuets that Ximénez composed together with some excellent anonymous works from two collections. The music is worth exploring and is well crafted; it is not difficult to see that Ximenez’ music offers us a glimpse of a transitional style that reinterprets the classic European minuet in a manner, that helped pave the way for the distinct Latin American style that was later to emerge.



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