Patrycja Bronisz

Spanish Works for Violin & Piano

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This rather modest Catalan release (check out the European casual shot of the performers on the back of the booklet) puts the Suite popular española of Manuel de Falla in an unusual context. The suite is heard in the pleasantly idiomatic violin transcription by Polish player Paul Kochanski, who used violin effects to play up the rhythmic aspects of Falla's regional Spanish tunes, and the result was music that seemed to look forward toward Bartók from its 1914 date. Violinist Patrycja Bronisz and pianist Emili Blasco couple the work instead with a pair of Catalan pieces that are rooted in late Romanticism. They are rarely heard; the Rapsòdia Catalana of Antoni Massana, in fact, is an unpublished work. Eduardo Toldrà's Sis sonets (Six Sonnets) are introduced by spoken poems in Catalan that are left untranslated for speakers of any other language. That's too bad, but the pieces themselves are extremely attractive -- vivacious and lyrical, with a subtle Catalan flavor that reminds one of Mompou even though the textures are much denser and more melodic. The Massano works are closer to Brahms, but still (as indeed Brahms did) carry a bit of popular flavor. The players keep things moving and neither downplay nor overplay the sentiment in the two Catalan works. Call the disc an upbeat way into the Falla, or just pick it up as a worthwhile introduction to some unknown music, part of the vast river of expression that was dammed by modernism's inexorable advance -- either way it offers a songful hour of music for commute or soirée.

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