About this Recording

A Musical Visit to Spain
With music by Georges Bizet, Camille Saint-Saëns, Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov, Maurice Ravel, Jules Massenet, Enrique Granados and Pablo Sarasate



Córdoba: First Impressions

An important Iberian city and then a Roman colony, Córdoba became a Moorish capital from the 8th century until its conquest by Ferdinand III of Castile in 1236. The king was Later canonised and is represented in a statue. A view of the modern city is followed by glimpses of the city’s past under the Moors.

Music Bizet: Carmen Suite No 1 – I. Prélude

Bizet’s opera Carmen, based on a novel by Prosper Mérimée, shocked its first audiences in Paris. It dealt with the love affair between the factory-girl Carmen and the toreador Escamillo and her flirtation with Don José, a corporal of the guard, corrupted by her and finally driven by jealousy to kill her. The first orchestral suite from the opera starts with the Prélude to the first act, which establishes the Spanish atmosphere of the piece, dominated by the ominous theme of Fate, suggesting the tragedy to come. The two Carmen Suites were compiled after Bizet’s death in 1875, the year of the first staging of the opera, by Ernest Guiraud.


Córdoba: City Shots and Alcázar

The Alcázar was the site of the palace of the Moorish ruler of Córdoba. Under Alfonso XI a new palace was built, retaining elements of Moorish style, the Palace of the Christian Kings.

Music Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnole (excerpt)

The Russian nationalist composers of the second half of the 19th century were also attracted to other forms of exoticism. Rimsky-Korsakov, a leading member of the group, turned to Spain, as his predecessor Glinka had done, and in his Capriccio espagnol, originally a fantasia on Spanish themes for violin and orchestra, created a work that he envisaged as a brilliant display of orchestral colour.


Córdoba: Mezquita

The great mosque of Córdoba was a project of the Ommayad caliphs, but was transformed into a church after the reconquest. The cathedral, later built inside the Mezquita, was built in the 16th century. A former minaret became a belfry, surmounted by the figure of St Raphael.

Music Saint-Saëns: Havanaise, Op 83

The French composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote two violin concertos and his Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for the great Spanish violinist Pablo Sarasate. His Havanaise, at first scored for violin and piano and then orchestrated, to be published in 1887, was dedicated to the Spanish violinist Rafael Diaz Martini.


Córdoba: Palacio del Marqués de Viana • City Shots

The picturesque palace of the Marqués de Viana, dating from the 17th century, is now a museum.

Music Bizet: Carmen Suite No 2 – V. Danse bohémienne

The gypsy dance that ends the second suite from Carmen is taken from the second act of the opera, where gypsy girls dance in a tavern, entertaining officers from the guard.


Andalusian Landscape

The vast area covered by the autonomous province of Andalusia includes districts where the soil is particularly fertile. Stretching from the Sierra Morena to the Portuguese frontier and the Mediterranean coast.

Music Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole – III. Habanera

Maurice Ravel’s affinity with Spain came in good part from his maternal ancestry. His mother was from the Basque country and he was familiar with Spanish musicians in his circle in Paris. He completed the Rapsodie espagnole in 1908, his first major orchestral work and a demonstration of his very considerable gifts as an orchestrator. The third of the four movements is a Habanera.


Andalusia: Iznájar • Olive Trees

The village of Iznájar is in the province of Córdoba. Set on a hill, it overlooks a lake and a river valley, with surrounding hills providing land for the cultivation of olives.

Music Massenet: Le Cid – II. Andalouse

Massenet’s opera Le Cid is based on the play on that subject by Corneille. The work enjoyed little success, but the ballet music from the opera has remained popular, a series of Spanish dances, of which Andalouse is the second.


Jerez de la Frontera: Domecq Warehouse

The connection of sherry with England dates from the time of Henry VIII and still continues. The historic nature of the sherry produced and stored in the Domecqu warehouse can be seen in the names on some of the casks.

Music Bizet: Carmen Suite No 2 – I. Marche des contrabandiers

The second suite from Carmen starts with the March of the Smugglers, as Carmen and her smuggler companions make their way to their mountain hide-out.


Andalusia: Sanlúcar • Medina Sidonia • Arcos de la Frontera

At one time Sanlúcar, on the left bank of the Guadalquivir in the province of Cádiz, was important as a possible port for America, but nowadays its fame rests on manzanilla and on the prawns landed there by local fishermen. Medina Sidonia, a hill-top town, reflects the former fame of the Guzman family, Dukes of Medina Sidonia. The hill-top settlement of Arcos de la Frontera enjoyed an element of strategic importance in its geographical setting.

Music Ravel: Tzigane, rapsodie de concert

Ravel wrote his famous Tzigane in 1924 for the Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Aranyi, whose own improvised additions Ravel included in the completed work. When he heard her play he is said to have remarked that he had no idea what she was doing, but he liked it. The work remains a showpiece in violin repertoire, designed to test a player to the utmost.


Torero y toros

Bulls happily graze in the fields, unaware of the fate that awaits them, while a torero dons his traje de luz and goes through the motions of a bull-fighter, in the empty arena.

Music Granados: Spanish Dance No 2 – Orientale: Andante

Granados studied music in Barcelona and later in Paris, establishing himself as a composer and pianist. His Spanish Dances were written for piano, but are well suited to the guitar, as in the present arrangement by Peter Breiner of the second piece of a set of twelve.



A brief display of flamenco dancing is presented in a café.

Music Bizet: Carmen Suite No 1 – III. Intermezzo

The Intermezzo in Bizet’s first Carmen Suite is taken from the introduction to the third act, when Carmen and her smuggler friends make their was to their mountain retreat, at first a scene of country tranquility.


Córdoba: Palacio del Marqués de Viana and Landscape

The tour ends in the peace of the gardens of the Palace of the Marqués de Viana and the fertile plains of Andalusia.

Music Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen, Op 20

The Spanish violinist Pablo Sarasate started his virtuoso career at the age of fifteen, giving concerts that won him fame in Europe and the Americas. Distinguished composers wrote for him and he added compositions of his own to his concert repertoire. The latter include his famous gypsy piece Zigeunerweisen, published in Leipzig in 1887.

Keith Anderson


These pieces can be found included on the following CDs:

Bizet: Carmen Suites 1 & 2 and L’Arlesiénne Suites 1 & 2 [Naxos 8.550061]
Rimsky-Korsakov, Massenet: Bolero and other Spanish Favourites [Naxos 8.554044]
Saint-Saëns, Ravel (Tzigane), Sarasate: Lalo: Symphonie espagnole etc [Naxos 8.550061]
Ravel (Rapsodie espagnole): Orchestral Works [Naxos 8.550424]
Granados: Twelve Spanish Dances etc [Naxos 8.553037]

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