Music and Vision homepage


CD Spotlight

A dramatic musical imagination

PATRIC STANDFORD listens to orchestral music
by Xavier Montsalvatge


 << Continued from page 1 

'Laberinto' was commissioned in 1971 for the 20th anniversary of the Granada International Festival. It takes for its inspiration three of the stucco panels that adorn the walls of the Alhambra, turned into the story of Ariadne's rescue from the Minataur by Theseus. The symphonic suite begins with a dark search ('The path leading nowhere') but in fact leading to portraits of Theseus and Ariadne, the former using the colours of the West Indian music that returned to highlight Catalan folklore, tuned percussion, woodwind and sliding trombones [click to listen]. The picture of Ariadne is painted with a gentle and vivid use of the strings. [click to listen]. The final movement, 'The exaltation of the Minataur', is energetic and rhythmically colourful, its opening pages providing a stimulus for the whole piece [click to listen].

This is a fine work; Montsalvatge at 60, gently exploring serialism and moving his musical boundaries away from his earlier romanticism. The CD presents two works written more than 20 years later. 'Sortilegis', completed in 1992, plays like an 8-minute overture and was specially written as a test piece for an international conductors' competition in Cadaqués on the extreme north-east coastline north of Barcelona. It combines a series of required tests in an attractive piece that is still unable to resist a characteristic energetic drive which culminates in a fine closing page [click to listen].

Later still is 'Folia Daliniana', a lyrical concerto grosso for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon with strings and percussion, first performed at the Cadaqués Festival in 1997, in which each soloist divides the main sections with its own discrete solo.

But the grand retrospective of this recording is the inclusion of the Sinfonía Mediterránea of 1948, a mature symphony that demonstrates the composer's full command of the conventional symphonic structure, its expectations of design, thematic development and tonal balance, and its immersion in the sheer romanticism that Montsalvatge was soon after to abandon but never deny [click to listen]. This is a most accessible symphony that perhaps sadly betrays little of its Spanish heritage, owing too much to the world of a Glazounov or early Rachmaninov. Yet it provides an essential part of the portrait of a fine composer who deserves to command some of our serious and attentive listening time. [Click to listen.]


Copyright © Patric Standford, October 30th 1999


CD and purchase information

Download realplayer G2 

To listen to the aural illustrations in this review,
you may need to download RealNetworks' realplayer G2.

 << Music & Vision homepage        Company >>