Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews


FALLA, M. de: Amor brujo (El) (1915 version) / El retablo de Maese Pedro (Fernández, García, Zetlan, Garza, Perspectives Ensemble, Gil-Ordóñez)

Naxos 8.573890

   Fanfare, November 2019, October 2019
   Diapason, October 2019
   Ritmo, September 2019
   American Record Guide, September 2019
   Record Geijutsu, September 2019
   Classical Music Daily, August 2019
   BBC Music Magazine, August 2019
   Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, July 2019
   MusicWeb International, July 2019, June 2019
   The Guardian, June 2019
   Pizzicato, June 2019, May 2019
   David's Review Corner, May 2019
   The Art Music Lounge, April 2019

English        French        German        Japanese        Spanish
See latest reviews of other albums...

Phillip Scott
Fanfare, November 2019

This new release features the Perspectives Ensemble, a group based at Columbia University, which has appeared on a previous Naxos disc of music by Xavier Montsalvatge. Under the direction of Angel Gil-Ordóñez, the performers provide a tightly disciplined and brightly colored traversal of Falla’s scores. Tempos are pretty well ideal throughout and instrumental soloists shine. Moreover, they are captured in superb sound.

…I will be hanging on to this disc because it is so wonderfully played. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review

James Manheim, October 2019

Manuel de Falla’s El amor brujo is unique in that it has very rarely been performed or recorded in its original version, which remained unpublished after Falla found success with revisions that substantially changed the work. It was reconstructed in the 1980s from Falla’s manuscripts, and it’s quite a revelation: El amor brujo was originally a mostly vocal work whose Gypsy component was accordingly stronger. The 1915 version has been recorded before, but it gets what may be a definitive performance here by the New York-area group, Perspectives Ensemble, under Angel Gil-Ordóñez, with Cantaora singer Esperanza Fernández. She’s a full-throated singer in the flamenco mold, and the story of a Gypsy girl trying to escape her lover’s ghost suddenly becomes not a mood setting, but a real dramatic tale. Sample one of Fernández’s pieces, such as the Canción del fuego fatuo from Act II, and you may be immediately hooked. © 2019 Read complete review

Didier Van Moere
Diapason, October 2019

…Alfredo Garcia plays a Quixote of noble appearance. The interpretation, here too, is less harsh and sees greater, with an expansive poetry in The Flight. …for a more enjoyable Falla, choose Gil-Ordoñez. © 2019 Diapason

Jerónimo Marín
Ritmo, September 2019

This version by Hispanic music champion Ángel Gil-Ordonez next to the Perspectives Ensemble is impeccable, with a remarkable natural rhythmic impulse, and excellent soloists such as the oboe, or vocals such as the cantaora Esperanza Fernández, or the dependable Alfredo García, guarantees good work. With an excellent sound, this album is an essential remembrance of Spanish music’s best composer, Don Manuel de Falla. © 2019 Ritmo

Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, September 2019

The vocal performances are engaging. I especially enjoy Esperanza Fernandez’s throaty, seductive singing in Amor. The other singers in Retablo also do an able job. In both works, all the singers’ diction is exemplary. … Gil-Ordonex leads the music with authority and animation. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Record Geijutsu, September 2019

The Boy is interpreted by a female voice in this version, its color and ambiance are well expressed in this excellent recording. © 2019 Record Geijutsu

Classical Music Daily, August 2019

This is one of those discs I wholeheartedly recommend, not just for the fine music, but also the superb performances by all concerned. © 2019 Classical Music Daily

BBC Music Magazine, August 2019

The performances are satisfyingly earthy, but one can see why Falla chose to revise the work significantly. © 2019 BBC Music Magazine

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, July 2019

The Perspectives Ensemble sounds just right under conductor Angel Gil-Ordonez and Music Director-Flautist Sato Moughalian. Cantaora Esperanza Fernandez is fabulously earthy and folksy in Brujo, as good as one might possibly imagine. But then soprano Jennifer Zetlan, baritone Alfredo Garcia, and tenor Jorge Garza are excellent as well in Pedro.

Combine all this with the nice Naxos price and that spells G-O-O-D D-E-A-L! I would not hesitate. It is a great listen. © 2019 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Read complete review

Leslie Wright
MusicWeb International, July 2019

Winning performances of two Falla masterpieces.

…the performance under review is a killer! Of those I’ve heard, none are as gutsy as this Naxos account. Cantaora Esperanza Fernández has the raw, folk-singer voice that really cuts as she spits out the narration and songs. The close recording also makes for an increased presence, leaving no word or note hidden. This is a primary-coloured and vivid account… The instrumentalists themselves are excellent, especially flutist Sato Moughalian who is also Artistic Director of this endeavour.

Adding to the attraction of the performances are informative notes by Artistic Director Moughalian and complete texts with English translation. If you are native Spanish, I am quite sure you wouldn’t need the texts, the singers’ diction being extraordinarily clear. For the rest of us they are invaluable. While there are other choices available for these works, I know of none better than this Naxos recording and so heartily recommend it. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Hurwitz, June 2019

There have been a couple of recordings of El amor brujo in its original, two-act chamber version of 1915, but this one is as fine as any and just might be the best around. Conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez chooses ideal tempos, the members of the Perspectives Ensemble play beautifully, and everyone seems genuinely involved in projecting Falla’s characterful instrumental parts with just the right combination of precision and warmth. Cantaora (singer) Esperanza Fernández sings with fervor and her voice…remains in tune. © 2019 Read complete review

Andrew Clements
The Guardian, June 2019

…with Esperanza Fernández as the cantaora, there’s no lack of bite and raw intensity, and paired with an equally pungent account of another of Falla’s utterly original music-theatre pieces, the chamber opera El Retablo de Maese Pedro, it’s a really desirable bargain. © 2019 The Guardian

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, June 2019

Manuel de Falla has reworked his piece El Amor Brujo several times, and usually one can hear the version of 1925. This CD features the original version of 1915, set for a much smaller orchestra and with a longer vocal part. The 61-year-old American-Spanish conductor Angel Gil-Ordonez has recorded it with the New York based Perspectives Ensemble. On the one hand, it is slimmer, fresher and more colorful than the revised version, but on the other it is also more sensual. The wonderful flamenco singer Esperanza Fernandez also gives the music a lot of authenticity. Gil-Ordonez conducts very lively and with great intensity. The small chamber opera El Retablo de Maese Pedro uses an episode from Cervantes’s Don Quixote and is characterized by a very unusual instrumentation. In this recording it gets exquisite colours and a thrilling rhythm. Jennifer Zetlan is outstanding in the role of the little Trujaman, and tenor Jorge Garza as Master Pedro and baritone Alfredo Garcia as Don Quixote are also convincing. The recorded sound is also excellent, so that this is a highly recommendable production. © 2019 Pizzicato, May 2019

Manuel de Falla remains something of an acquired taste outside his homeland. Really first-rate performances of his music, such as those led by Angel Gil-Ordóñezon a new Naxos CD… The music is charming; indeed, the whole of El retablo de Maese Pedro is filled with charm. … © 2019 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2019

Manuel de Falla’s El amor brujo is heard so often in the concert hall, we forget that his original 1915 version was a work with songs, spoken passages and dancers. This new recording now recreates that score where the instrumental ensemble is reduced to the size of a small theatre orchestra. There will be surprises for you along the way, particularly the flamenco singer who makes an impact in the second track with her coarse-grained ‘Song of the Broken Heart ’, while there is a spoken story that weaves its way through the score relating to the love, death and the fear that the disembodied spirit of the dead live on. Falla’s scoring was remarkable in creating so many colours from the chamber group, and that. when added to his use of Spanish rhythms, drive the music into your memory, the sixteen tracks having a playing time of forty minutes. I am not sure how you will respond to Esperanza Fernandez as the singer, as it is very different to the ‘cultured’ opera voices used with full orchestra in other extant recordings. The coupling here is El retablo de Maese Pedro (Master Peter’s Puppet show), a very brief opera of  puppets enacting an episode in the life of Don Quixote written for a small ensemble and three singers—soprano, tenor and baritone. It has, over the years been staged in many different forms from the original two sets of puppets, one large and the other small, to a version using children as puppets enacting the story in an adult world. Listening to the music devoid of action still retains a considerable charm, and the playing of the American-based Perspectives Ensemble, conducted by Angel Gil-Ordonez, is very good, the engineers offering a vivid sound, with Jennifer  Zetlan, Jorge Garza and Alfredo Garcia, excellent in the Puppet Show. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

Lynn René Bayley
The Art Music Lounge, April 2019

This performance of El retablo goes straight to the top of my list of preferred versions, and I consider the El amor brujo to be very nearly the equal of Toscanini’s in performance quality and, of course, far superior in sound. © 2019 The Art Music Lounge Read complete review

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group