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Hyperion Records

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An Allegory of Happiness by Julio Romero de Torres (1880-1930)
Museo Julio Romero de Torres, Córdoba / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67954
Recording details: February 2012
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: February 2013
Total duration: 8 minutes 16 seconds

'Guridi's 'High up on that mountain' … is a significant discovery, capturing the dark mysticism of Spanish culture with surprising turns and unexpected splashes of thick harmonic colour. Turina's Tres poemas are marvellous instances of songs that use nature descriptions to reveal intense inner states of being … the rest of the disc suggests the presence of a major artist' (Gramophone)

'Sylvia Schwartz is Spanish born, and these warmly seductive and rhythmically supple performances of a beguiling selection of songs by Granados, Turina, Montsalvatge and others are idiomatic and playful … Malcolm Martineau’s robust playing of the piano parts is a joy' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Soprano Sylvia Schwartz's reputation as a rising star is confirmed by her Hyperion debut album, a programme of songs from her native Spain, finely accompanied by Malcolm Martineau. There's a tangy, lived-in quality in Schwartz's tone that is immediately appealing … a wide emotional range that easily encompasses the wit of Granados's Tonadillas en Estilo Antiguo, the operatic scale of Turina's Tres poemas and the reined-in political fury of Montsalvatge's Cinco canciones negras. There are some exquisite songs in Catalan too' (The Guardian)

'This is a delightful programme of early twentieth-century Spanish song full of the atmosphere and seductive charms of Spain … Martineau proves to be an instinctive Spaniophile in his enchantingly nuanced accompaniments. He brings us as close as it is possible in a purely aural medium to the sights and scents of Spain … ever the ideal accompanist, he does not so much prod and pull as envelop the singer, leaving her all the space in the world to root into the very soul of these richly characterful songs … making her recital debut on Hyperion, Sylvia Schwartz delivers these songs with impressive precision and security … a voice so clearly focused that it seems to shine through the music like a bright guiding light. She has reserves of passion and emotion, which wisely she holds back for the very few occasions where it is musically warranted, but she mostly presents clear, confident and unaffected performances, revealing a total command over every aspect of the music. The vocal timbre has a pleasing combination of purity and rich maturity which makes for some arresting singing … strong and compelling performances' (International Record Review)

'Schwartz shows a wonderful voice, warm responsiveness to the texts and perfectly idiomatic Spanish. The programme is well-chosen, showing variety of mood, style and soundworld: Guridi's Six Catalan Songs have never been done more vibrantly, more movingly on record. Martineau is, as ever, the perfect collaborator' (Classical Music)

'In Turina's Tres poemas, the soprano glides from sinuous habanera to a soaring paean to nature, moving from gentle breezes to fires and weeping willows' (The New Zealand Herald)

Tres poemas, Op 81
composer
1933
author of text
the poem Tu pupila es azul is based on Byron's I saw thee weep

Introduction
Joaquín Turina, like Manuel de Falla, was a native of Seville, and also spent time in Paris, where he was influenced by French musical style. Although he studied with d’Indy at the Schola Cantorum and was greatly attracted by the music of Debussy, his compositions remained essentially Spanish. Albéniz encouraged him to seek inspiration from the rich heritage of Spanish folk music, and much of his guitar and vocal music is characterized by Spanish colour and rhythms. The Tres poemas date from 1933 and set three poems by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, whose Rima Turina had set a decade earlier. Bécquer lived for a time in Madrid, eking out an existence in journalism and translation work and churning out a number of zarzuela libretti long since forgotten. In 1858 he fell in love with Julia Espín, the muse of a number of his Rimas—unrequitedly, as the texts of songs by Albéniz, de Falla, Mompou and Turina tell us. His poems have often been described as ‘suspiritos germánicos’—a reference to Heine’s Buch der Lieder poems, which Bécquer knew partially through Gérard de Nerval’s translation of Lyrisches Intermezzo. Bécquer’s poems, however, lack Heine’s cynicism, as we see especially in Besa el aura, and also Olas gigantes, set both by de Falla and by Federico Mompou in his Bécquerianas (1971). Tu pupila es azul, the second of the Tres poemas, was originally entitled ‘Imitación de Byron’, inspired as it was by Byron’s ‘I saw thee weep’. Turina varies the vocal line of each stanza, and the accompaniment, which starts with a staccato motif based on simple chords, develops more virtuoso characteristics at the end of the third verse, when we hear romantic arpeggios and guitar-like music to accompany the vocal cadenza with which the song ends.

from notes by Richard Stokes © 2013

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