Few outside the Basque region of Spain will have ever heard of the txistu, a small duct flute with just three holes and much used there by folk musicians in years past. It is played with one hand so as to allow the performer to use the other hand to provide the rhythm on percussion instruments. Tomas Garbizu, one of the most important Basque composers of the 20th century, has looked at its use in a series of folk music settings for txistu and piano. In essence they are popular tunes dressed for concert use and all of a pleasing disposition. The highly informative sleeve notes traces their origins, each longer work created from short cameo pieces, some having more than a passing resemblance with popular songs sung in Europe in the earlier part of the last century. The disc is played by José Ignacio Ansorena, one of today’s leading exponents of an instrument that must be difficult to play with the precision needed for concert exposure when only supported by one hand. Garbizu skilfully mixes passages where the piano supplies little more than accompanying chords, to sections where it elaborates and decorates the melodic line. It is well played by Alvaro Cendoya, a native Basque who was a pupil of Garbizu before embarking on a career as a concert pianist. With his background, and the fact that Ansorena collaborated with the composer for many years before Garbizu’s death in 1989, and we obviously have benchmark performances.
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