Orquestra de Cadaqués/Jaime Martín – Ernesto Halffter & Beethoven’s Eroica [Tritó]

0 of 5 stars

Ernesto Halffter
Sinfonietta in D
Symphony No.3 in E flat, Op.55 (Eroica)

Orquestra de Cadaqués
Jaime Martín

Recorded November 2008 (Beethoven) & March 2009 in an unspecified location

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: December 2010
Duration: 81 minutes

The Cadaqués Orchestra is new on the block – it was founded in 1988 to be the resident ensemble at the Cadaqués Festival and is international in its personnel. Gianandrea Noseda is Chief Conductor with Sir Neville Marriner and Gennadi Rozhdestvensky as Principal Guests.

Jaime Martín is closely associated with Orquestra de Cadaqués, too, and is also a distinguished flautist, currently (December 2010) principal flute of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. On the evidence of this recording, Martín is a more than capable conductor – who has been mentored by Neville Marriner – and a musician capable of obtaining excellent and committed playing, someone with a clear view of the music he conducts.

This unusually coupled disc begins with the Sinfonietta by Ernesto Halffter (1905-89). This 1925 piece is no diminutive symphony, for it lasts (here) 31 minutes, but nor is it particularly symphonic. Rather it’s a sassy neo-classical work, somewhat fiddle and drum, and very close to Stravinsky’s already-composed Pulcinella, but with a Spanish flavour, a debt to Manuel de Falla (not surprisingly, and he and Halffter were close friends), and looking-back enough at times to be a transcription of J. S. Bach. This ambitious piece is a colourful confection, more a suite of incidental music, but thoroughly attractive and well-worth getting to know as well as being a very appropriate calling-card for Señor Martín and Orquestra de Cadaqués who do it proud.

If meatier credentials are required as to what this team can do, then the ‘Eroica’ is a prime cut, a masterwork that these forces serve up with distinction. It’s a ‘modern’ approach, with ‘authentic’ leanings if nothing dogmatic, and if one wishes on occasion that the orchestra sported a few more strings, there is a spirit and a dedication evident that is winning and meaningful. The symphony’s opening cannon-shots are crisp and attention-grabbing, the tempo fast but the expression not gabbled; accents are strong, the first movement (its to-my-mind superfluous exposition repeat observed) resilient and gutsy without sacrificing lyricism. The second-movement ‘funeral march’ has purpose, dignity and intensity, with pungent-sounding woodwinds breaking-through in the climax, and some especially eloquent oboe-playing come the coda. The scherzo enjoys point rather than rush and the horn-threesome in the trio is as nimble as could be wished for. A similar poise informs the finale, its ebullience and contemplation absorbed as integral to the movement as a whole, the coda liberating. In short this is a very fine and fresh-minted performance of a timeless classic.

With expert production (John H. West and – ‘Eroica’ – Andrew Keener) and engineering (Paul Baily and Phil Rowlands) this is a release that aims high and finds its target. The recording is spacious and clear, admirably natural with not too much reverberation. Very warmly recommended.

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