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Gimbel
American Record Guide, February 2002

"These pieces are given adept performances in attractive sound...listeners attracted to Andalusian exotica in late-20th Century dress might want to investigate."



Marco del Vaglio
Sedicinoni, February 2002

"Nato a Barcellona nel 1933, Leonardo Balada ha studiato alla Juilliard School of Music di New York ed ha avuto tra i suoi maestri Aaron Copland e Vincent Persichetti (composizione) e Igor Markevitch (direzione d­Ýorchestra). Queste brevi note sono sufficienti ad introdurci nel mondo di un compositore contemporaneo che, dopo essere stato a contatto con realta quali la musica seriale ed il neoclassicismo, ha sviluppato uno stile personalissimo, avente come principale punto di riferimento la musica popolare spagnola.

La Naxos, che gia lo scorso anno gli aveva dedicato un cd nella collana Classici del 21° secolo, raccoglie ora, in prima registrazione mondiale, alcune sue composizioni di data recentissima.

Il disco ha inizio con il Concerto per pianoforte ed orchestra n. 3 (1999), caratterizzato da un'armonica fusione fra passato e presente e costituito da tre movimenti. I primi due si basano rispettivamente su un pasodoble e su una melodia medievale arabeggiante, entrambi di origine andalusa, mentre il terzo e conclusivo è incentrato sulla jota, una nota danza aragonese. Il risultato complessivo è una musica che, oltre ad echeggiare Stravinsky, Poulenc e Satie, presenta molte affinità con quella dei compositori messicani del Novecento quali Chavez, Moncayo, Galindo Blas e Revueltas.

Nel corso della sua carriera, Balada ha scritto diversi brani per chitarra e orchestra, commissionatigli da solisti affermati quali Narciso Yepez. Il Concierto Mágico (1997), secondo brano in ordine di ascolto, rappresenta la sua creazione più recente.

Anch'esso risulta diviso in tre tempi (Sol, Luna e Duende) e contiene elementi folclorici che vanno da una melodia gitana al zapateado, danza dal ritmo ternario.

Il cd termina con Musica per flauto ed orchestra (2000) che, almeno nella prima parte, risulta essere il brano, fra i tre, che si avvicina maggiormente alla musica contemporanea. Il motivo portante, di origine catalana, è inizialmente immerso in una matrice surreale formata dal flauto, accompagnato da alcuni gruppi strumentali, mentre in seguito la melodia prende il sopravvento rivelandosi in tutta la sua piacevolezza.

Riguardo all'esecuzione, le parti solistiche sono affidate alla pianista Rosa Torres-Pardo, al chitarrista Eliot Fisk ed alla flautista Magdalena Martinez, tre artisti di elevata caratura. Altrettanto valida si dimostra l'Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale di Barcellona e Catalogna, diretta da José Serebrier, ottima in ogni suo elemento

In conclusione ci sembra che la Naxos abbia di nuovo colto nel segno, presentandoci un compositore, Leonardo Balada, che nel disomogeneo panorama attuale porta una ventata di freschezza e di piacevole novita."



Stephen Ellis
Fanfare, February 2002

"Two CDs of bright and inventive Balada - at a bargain price no less. Need I say more? Yes. Just this: Clean, clear, natural sound puts the best features of these highly colored works in the forefront. Matthias Aeschbacher and the incomparable Jose Serebrier lead the Barcelona/Catalonia Orchestra and several excellent soloists in spirited, idiomatic performances."



John Duarte
Gramophone, November 2001

"A contemporary Spanish voice that ably blends modernity and the past without compromise.... If proof were required that significant Spanish, post-Rodrigo compositional life exists, and that it is influenced by, though not obsessed with Spain­Ýs past, Balada would suffice to provide it.... Naxos is performing a valuable service by focusing on this most creative composer in this recording and in his previous one."



Michael Jameson
ClassicsToday.com, August 2001

"This is an exceptional disc all round. Composer Leonardo Balada (b.1933) pioneered a fusion between ethnic Catalan and Moorish idioms and the most progressive avant-garde techniques, and even listeners with a professed modernist aversion will find his works easily and enjoyably accessible. Importantly, the music benefits from outstanding performances from three able soloists and the Barcelona Symphony under Jose Serebrier as well as from demonstration-quality engineering. The disc's budget price doesn't hurt, either.

"Several of Balada's compositions already appear in the CD catalog, the best known being his 'Steel' Symphony of 1972 on a New World Records disc with Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony. The pieces featured here have not been recorded before, and all were written since 1997. Pianist Rosa Torres-Pardo delivers a thrilling and powerful rendition of Balada's Piano Concerto No. 3, and the piece, with its remarkable pasadoble and organillo (barrel organ) effects, makes for a fascinating listening experience. Concierto Magico is the fourth of Balada's guitar concertos, premiered by Angel Romero in Cincinnati in 1998. Here it's played by Eliot Fisk, who exploits its intriguing mix of classical and flamenco elements with assured technique and countless imaginative coloristic touches. The exotic slow movement, with many unexpected orchestral effects, brings the only respite from obsessive rhythmic bite and roller-coaster-like confrontational onslaughts between orchestra and soloist. The Barcelona Symphony's own principal flute Magdalena Martinez gives a vivacious and engaging account of Balada's Music for Flute and Orchestra, written in 2000. Again, the juxtaposition between urgent ostinato passages and episodes of unearthly stasis provides the background for another easily listenable work, especially in this strongly idiomatic performance."



Roger Dettmer
ClassicalCDReview.com

"Here the conductor is Jose Serebrier, who knows more about recording than most engineers, and is in the bargain one of the best conductors on the globe, which is not to say an ideal interpreter of everything. However, his command of and control over contemporary idioms of the last 100 years (listen to his Ives¡¦ Fourth Symphony for certification) is uncommonly, perhaps uniquely, formidable. As a Uruguayan (albeit of eastern European parentage), he is working here in a kindred idiom. As a composer also, he leaves no nuance in Balada¡¦s music unexplored. The BSCNO may not be a first-class orchestra, but he makes them play above their heads, with care for articulation and intonation in the bargain. All of the music on Serebrier¡¦s disc is recent and accessible -- I kept being reminded of a Catalan Morton Gould. The Third Piano Concerto is as recent as 1999, and Madrid-born Rosa Torres-Pardo plays it with extraordinary charm, indeed like a younger Alicia de Larrocha. Nights in the Gardens of Spain isn¡¦t far from the opening of the third movement, which Torres-Pardo and Serebrier make irresistible. The Magico Concerto for Guitar of 1997 belongs in the same league as those of the late Joaquin Rodrigo, although far more piquantly spiced. Eliot Fisk plays it like a Romero, than which there is hardly more praise. Music for Flute and Orchestra, a year newer than the Piano Concerto - Y2K, no less - presents Catalan folk melodies with a saucing of Balada¡¦s early Dali-influenced surrealism. Everything considered, including a recording that belies the producer and engineer¡¦s involvement with the earlier Balada disc, this is a clear winner from Naxos. Ole, todos!"



Amazon.com

One of the "10 Best Recordings of the Year 2001", in the classical/instrumental section.






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6:33:26 AM, 21 September 2014
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