Iberian Colours

Maria Camahort Quintet: Iberian Colours (CR029)

Review by The Arts Desk

Listen and buy on Convivium Records

Catalan composer Federico Mompou is one of classical music’s best-kept secrets – if you’ve not sampled his restrained, elegant piano output, you should snap up Arcadi Volodos’s brilliant Sony anthology. Guitarist Maria Camahort presents us with three short Mompou pieces, in arrangements which expand the originals’ scope without diluting their essence. The Catalan popular songs which Mompou transcribed are now sung. There’s some loss of intimacy but you imagine that the composer would have approved.

Camahort’s disc emphasises the debt owed by Spanish classical composers to traditional music. Familiar names include Enrique Granados, whose Danza Orientalsounds gorgeous as a duet for violin and guitar, and Falla, represented by a touching guitar solo dedicated to Debussy’s memory. Camahort’s ensemble includes cello, percussion and two vocalists, deployed with notable restraint. Especially beguiling are guitar, violin and soprano transcriptions of a pair of songs by one Eduard Toldrá, sweetly sung by soprano Laura Ruhí-Vidal. Two movements from Feliu Gasull’s Suite for Cello and Guitar were new to me, along with a striking Lullaby in an idiomatic quintet arrangement. Camahort’s own Lorca settings have a stark, improvisatory feel, both brilliantly sung by Violeta Garcia. This is a seriously impressive CD, far more probing and affecting than the colourful sleeve art might suggest. Perfect holiday listening, in other words. The production values are impeccable, with Camahort’s notes a model of scholarly accessibility.

Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, 15th August 2015

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The Arts Desk (theartsdesk.com) is a British arts journalism website containing reviews, interviews, news and other content related to music, theatre, television, films and other art forms written by journalists from a variety of traditional and web-based publications.

It launched in September 2009 as a shareholder collective. Its honorary chairman 2010–2013 was Sir John Tusa, former managing director of the BBC World Service and Barbican Arts Centre.

In 2012, it won an Online Media Award as the best specialist journalism site jointly with the website for The Economist.

Notable contributors include Aleks Sierz, Jasper Rees, Matt Wolf, Ismene Brown, Joe Muggs, Tom Birchenough, David Nice, Kieron Tyler and Alexandra Coghlan.

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