This is an ideal album for fans of Spanish music who would like to move beyond the post-Romantic style of Albéniz or Granados or the impressionist style of Turina and early Falla without getting into the dry asceticism of international "modern music."
Composer Carlos Surinach has always been an excellent conductor of his music, which takes his rhythmic aggressiveness, melodic profile, and underlying passion from flamenco. His penchant for precise, rhythmically driven performances is particularly evident in the Doppio Concertino for violin and piano solo and a chamber group of four woodwinds, two brass, bass, and percussion. The violin sonority of Israel Chorberg is light, bright, and playful (and appropriately haunting in the pensive middle movement) while Pablo Zinger's piano is rhythmically solid. (Much the same qualities exist in their duet partnership in the Flamenco Cyclothemia for violin and piano, the most obviously Spanish-influenced music on the disc.)
The Bronx Arts Ensemble provides the instrumentalists in the Concertino, playing with exceptional clarity and precision. Another group of musicians from the same ensemble, fifteen string players, perform the vigorous and serious Concerto for String Orchestra, a reworking of an earlier string quartet. The writer does not know the earlier version, but this performance, solid and committed with a warm, mellow basic string sonority, makes a good case for the proposition that string orchestra was the right medium for the music.
Surinach's piano quartet, an early work of the composer's, begins in a serious contrapuntal mood and becomes more unbuttoned and ethnic as it goes along. Again, Zinger is a driving force at the piano, with a trio from the Bronx Arts Ensemble balancing him well.
The sound (produced by Adam Abeshouse), is excellent throughout and well balanced despite the total contrast in performing forces from piece to piece.