Klassic Cat

Trip to Granada (Klassic Cat)

A Trip to Granada

Anna Tonna
and Mac McClure

Christopher Webber

A Trip to Granada Anna Tonna (mezzo-soprano), Mac McClure (piano)
Isaac Albéniz: Granada from Suite Española No.1; María Rodrigo: Ayes (three songs); Joaquín Turina: Corazón de Mujer; Miquel Ortega: Pascua florida (eight songs), Matilde Salvador: Tres nanas (three songs); Manuel de Falla: Dos canciones de María Lejárraga, three songs from Siete canciones populares españolas; Isaac Albéniz: El Albaicín from Suite Iberia Book III.

[Recorded BlackCat Studios. La Garriga (Barcelona), June 9, 14-15 2021]

Edicions Albert Moraleda [Streaming on Spotify, iTunes]

Anna Tonna (mezzo-soprano)Anna Tonna’s work always brings pleasure, not only for her bright, rich tone and crystal-clear diction, but also for her thoughtful, often surprising programming. In A Trip to Granada Tonna and her pianist Mac McClure have assembled a fascinating mixture of old and new canciones españolas, familiar and unfamiliar. The date is 1915, and María Luz González’s vivid programme note invites us to recall a trip to the Andalusian city by Manuel de Falla and María Lejárraga, great friends and close colleagues, just before the Madrid premiere of El amor brujo.

Lejárraga later hoped that the composer would set her poetic cycle Pascua florida, partly inspired by their visit to the Alhambra, which Falla was visiting for the first time. In the event the cycle had to wait for Miquel Ortega (b.1963) whose harmonically subtle settings are written in a style not far removed from Falla’s own. Tonna and McClure find a range of moods and colours in the cycle, which easily justifies its place at the heart of the recital, even if some other songs here are more immediately memorable.

Falla himself is represented by two familiar excerpts from the Siete canciones populares, and by two rarities: these miniature settings of Lejárraga are of supreme quality, and it is amazing that they have been so little recorded. In ‘Oración de las madres’ especially, Tonna conveys a depth and complexity of feeling belying its brevity.

Mac McClure (piano)The remainder of the recital is no less interesting. In the light of her short opera Becqueriana, it is good to welcome María Rodrigo’s Ayes – three more settings of Lejárraga, their comparatively conventional vocal gestures (though I suppose that’s the point!) offset by the composer’s fresh and alert response to the text. Matilde Salvador (1918– 2007) is new to me, but her gently atmospheric settings of three brief lullabies by the Uruguayan poet Juana de Ibarborou work well, again in Falla-esque mode.

More surprising is Joaquín Turina’s experimental 1927 song for mezzo-soprano, long enough to count as a dramatic scena. ‘Corazón de Mujer’ begins arrestingly with a popular, dance-hall chotis, before embarking on setting Cristina de Arteaga’s confessional poem, which explores sensual passion from a very personal point of view. The song’s mercurial progress brings out Tonna’s compelling qualities as a singing-actress; and she is well matched by McClure, whose warm readings of two of Albéniz’s most familiar piano classics top and tail this handsomely planned, and no less handsomely executed, recital.

© Christopher Webber and zarzuela.net, 2023

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