The reissue game continues. All of this material has been available more or less continuously in recent years, with the exception of Frühbeck's Three-Cornered Hat, which only resurfaced quite recently on an EMI twofer accompanied by Atlántida. The reason it reappears here, evidently, stems from the fact that this two-disc set contains all of Victoria de Los Angeles' stereo Falla recordings; and despite the fact that she sings for about 60 seconds in total in "Hat", it's always a pleasure to hear Frühbeck's big-hearted, expansively Romantic but always exciting way with the music.
The word "fabulous" seems vulgar when applied to the Spanish diva whose delicately shaded voice encompassed music from the middle ages to the present. This four-disc compilation emphasizes her song repertoire, to which she brought warmth, intelligence, linguistic integrity and irresistible sincerity. Her dignity makes listeners want to come to her, and she rewards them with an intimate, personal experience, especially in this small-scale repertoire by Ravel, Debussy, Duparc, Fauré, lots of Spanish composers and German masters such as Schubert and Brahms. David Patrick Stearns @ Amazon.com
Martha Argerich’s Ravel G major was for so long a reference recording that it’s easy to forget how idiosyncratic it actually is. I wouldn’t actually blame anyone who found it too garish in its colouring, with its volatility giving diminishing returns and its rubato too predictably appassionato for a sensibility as dapper as Ravel’s. Such a person might well find exactly what they want in Steven Osborne’s account, which is masterful in its own way but essentially self-effacing.
Shafran became something of a legendary figure amongst cellists. He made a fabled child prodigy debut at ten, playing the Rococo Variations with the Leningrad Philharmonic conducted by Albert Coates. In later years, though, he toured abroad very seldom – making sporadic visits in the 1960s to Rome, New York and London and a succession of visits to Japan where he was immensely popular and had a number of students. Towards the end of his life he gave two celebrated recitals at Wigmore Hall.
This was Alicia de Larrocha’s finest account of Nights in the Gardens of Spain, fully capturing the Andalusian atmosphere of this evocative score. After all, it’s not a work about landscapes and flowers – it’s about love. Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos does a superb job of drawing perfume and color out of an English orchestra.