This album consisting mostly of traditional Basque folk tunes arranged for regional instruments and piano will probably be of strongest interest to fans of European folk music. Tomás Garbizu (1901-1989) was a leading Basque composer of the 20th century; few of the pieces here, though, are original, but his adaptations of folk music or folk-like works by other composers. (Several of the pieces are versions that these performers made of Garbizu's arrangements for other instruments.) He saw his role as presenting the material as plainly and straightforwardly as possible, rather than incorporating it into a personalized idiom, as Bartók or Kodály had done. The results are pleasant and cheerful, if somewhat mundane and bland. Much of the interest comes from the instrumentation; the txistu is a traditional Basque flute with only three finger holes, so it can be played with one hand, leaving the other hand free to play a percussion instrument, in this case, usually a two-headed drum called a tamboril. José Ignacio Ansorena is a leading txistu virtuoso, and he worked extensively with the composer on this material, so his interpretations can be considered authoritative. The txistu is capable of surprisingly speedy passagework, but its timbral variety, and therefore, its expressive range, is circumscribed, so listening in a single sitting to the entire CD may prove to be a bit much, for all except its most devoted fans. Pianist Alvaro Cendoya, of Basque heritage, provides a sympathetic and idiomatic accompaniment. Naxos' sound is clean and well-balanced.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Six Old San Sebastián Songs|
|Euskal suitea 1 (Basque Suite No. 1)|
|Euskal suitea 2 (Basque Suite No. 2)|
|Lau zortziko (Four Zortzikos)|
|Mendiko Itzala (The Shadow on the Mountain)|
|Four Guipuzcoan Dances (Santesteban Collection)|