Taking its cue from gypsy culture and drawing on universal themes such as romance and tragedy, Spanish folklore has long proved to be a compelling subject for many works of art – including the two tours de force that comprise this release.
First are Federico Garcia Lorca’s renowned Canciones Populares, a set of 13 songs compiled and harmonised by the poet who, having been exposed to Andalusian folk music from an early age, was determined to safeguard the ancient roots of this important cultural tradition. From the spoken recitations of ‘Los Mozos de Monleon’ (which describe young men running from the bulls) to the exciting offbeat rhythms of the popular ‘Anda, Jaleo’ (originally a smugglers’ song), Lorca’s collection – based on the unspoiled flamenco style known as cante jondo – colourfully recounts the everyday happenings of southern Spain and is wonderfully rescored here for voice and guitar quartet.
Also making use of this ensemble arrangement is a series of highlights from Bizet’s operatic masterpiece Carmen. Penned by a Frenchman who drew on genuine Spanish folksong to recount the gypsy-protagonist’s doomed affair, the suite makes an apt complement to Lorca’s work. Full of expressive detail and dramatic energy, the collection paints a vivid image of a country bursting with cultural vigour.
Recorded in 1999.
The Lorca songs are as bold and passionate as his plays and poetry, but are comparatively neglected: a release that will excite interest well beyond connoisseurs of Spanish music.