Jesús Arámbarri (1902-1960) may perhaps have been more familiar as a conductor, and his music is, like many composer-conductors, relatively conventional and eclectic but superbly crafted and finely scored. The music on this disc dates mostly from the 1930s, and complements, with some overlap, a collection of orchestral works issued by Claves under Mandeal that also contains the ballet Aiko-Maiko. There is really not much to choose between Juan Mena and the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra in the overlapping works (Preludio Gabon-zar sorgiñak, Ocho canciones vascas and the Im memoriam), but overall I may tend to find Claves's program slightly more interesting.
That said, I might also find that Mandeal gets the Preludio Gabon-zar sorgiñak going with somewhat more energy. Like most music on the disc this relatively short work makes use of Basque folk music, and it is a lively little work that in the end fails to really lodge itself in one's memory. The Cuatro impromptus consists of four mildly attractive and well-crafted orchestral pieces, but the main attraction on the disc is probably the beautiful Ocho canciones vascas ("Eight Basque Songs"), exquisite, melodic, atmospheric songs very much in the manner (atmosphere-wise, at least) of Canteloube - these are small gems, but I think I prefer Maria Bayo and Mandeal just a little bit above Itxaro Mentxaka and Mena, though I don't imagine anyone being disappointed by either.
Whereas the songs are colorful and full of light and shadow, the Elegy for orchestra, In memoriam Juan Carlos Gortázar, from 1930, is rather bleak - it is inventive enough to be worth a listen but a bit long for its material (though the coda is very moving). The short Ofrenda ("Offering") is a tribute to de Falla and based on a slow-motion version on a section of the latter's Three-Cornered Hat - simply but attractive. We also get the brief, atmospheric interlude from his zarzuela Viento sur ("South Wind") and the more substantial - in length if not in content - Fantasía Española, which is finely scored but short on memorable material.
Overall, then, there are no masterpieces here (though the Ocho canciones vascas is not miles away), but much of the music is enjoyable enough to warrant a listen. The performances are good without being outstanding and the sound quality is good. In the end I don't think this is anywhere close to a mandatory acquisition, but for an hour of innocent, mildly engaging light music this is appealing enough to be worth considering.