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Isasi - Symphony No 2; Suite No 2 CD

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Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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£4.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details Only 6 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Product details

  • Conductor: Juan José Mena
  • Composer: Andrés Isasi
  • Audio CD (31 May 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000260QEC
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,487 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Product Description

NAX 8557584; NAXOS - Germania;
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Spanish by birth Andres Isasi might have been but you will listen in vain for any echoes of his national heritage in the music presented here. In fact, following some early local successes with his compositions, the twenty year old Isasi moved to Berlin in 1910 to study under Engelbert Humperdinck and the works here sound resolutely German in their idiom.

His erstwhile teacher certainly seems to have left his mark on several passages in the G minor symphony - the lyrical 'Adagio' in particular, with its evocation of birdsong in the woodwind and heartfelt thematic material, is as sweet-toned as anything written by the German master and very appealing it is too. With its ABA form (the contrasting 'B' section providing more a modest suggestion of a storm lurking over the horizon than a fully-fledged tempest), it is conventionally laid out and so is the symphony as a whole: the opening 'Allegro appassionato' is a textbook sonata form movement, for instance, and scherzo and finale both proceed without any attempts at innovation structurally. It is, I think, a conservative work - and would be even were it written a couple of decades earlier than its 1931 première (the composition date is not provided in the liner-note) - but that hardly matters to present day listeners and Isasi proves to be a composer of imagination and no mean melodist. He has an ear for imaginative orchestral textures as well - the end of the exposition in the opening movement, as it winds down in preparation for the urgent timpani-heralded development section, is quite delectable and such poetic touches abound throughout (string solos used to haunting effect in the 'Adagio' and judicious use of the harp, for example).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Post-Wagnerian Symphony by a Spaniard 30 Aug. 2004
By J Scott Morrison - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Both good and great composers steal from their great predecessors; the great composer puts his own stamp on his thefts and takes care to cover his tracks but the merely good composer leaves tell-tale signs of the theft. Andrés Isasi (1890-1940) is in the latter camp. He was a Spaniard, from Bilbao in the Basque region, who studied extensively in Germany, primarily with Engelbert Humperdinck, and whose music never quite left the Austro-German ambit even though he returned to a small town in Spain and lived there the rest of his life. He died virtually forgotten. It is thanks to the local Bilbao Symphony and their conductor, Juan José Mena, that we have this recording which is, if not of great music, still worth hearing.

The Second Symphony, written in 1930, is in the usual four movements. The first sounds a great deal like Richard Strauss, particularly in its inventive orchestration and side-slipping enharmonic maneuvers. The thematic material sounds like German folksong. The second movement Adagio is a dawn-song (or perhaps I should say an 'alborada'); the world awakens to a beautiful sunrise with lovely melodies in the silken strings and bird-calls in the winds. The third movement is a Brucknerian Scherzo that has the advantage of pianissimo lightness (Bruckner never quite managed that, I fear) at least partly from the use of pizzicato and col legno strings playing almost elfin music. The Trio is a languorous waltz with an undercurrent of the restless first section which then returns to conclude this graceful movement. The finale is a variation-rondo based primarily on the old German vagabond folksong, 'Muss i' denn' ('Muss i' denn, muss i' denn, zum Städtele hinaus, und Du, mein Schatz, bleibst hier' -- 'I must then go, must then go to town and you, my dear, stay here' [a tune, by the way, that Elvis fans will recognize as that of 'Wooden Heart']). Amusingly the booklet note-writer, Richard Whitehouse, mistakenly characterizes this tune as 'a melody of Russian liturgical cast.' Nothing could be further from the truth: 'Muss i' denn' is about as Schubertian as a tune can be! Isasi (and had you noticed that his name is a neat palindrome?) really wrings the changes on this simple tune and possibly the finale outstays its welcome a bit, although there are some really quite impressive polyphonic passages that necessitate a slight rewriting of the main theme. Although there are hints of Smetana, Dukas, Humperdinck, Strauss and others in the symphony, the primary influence here is Wagner. There is not even a hint of Mahlerian irony.

The CD concludes with eleven-minute, three-movement Suite No. 2 in E Major, Op. 21, which has an earlier opus number than the Symphony but sounds more advanced harmonically, less German, more French, reminding one at times of late Debussy or Roussel. The suite ends with an impressive fugue.

These performances are by a competent middle-level regional orchestra, the Bilbao Symphony, which has the advantage, in this music, of being the 'home team.' They are sensitively conducted by their regular conductor, Señor Mena. Obviously they are performing a service by resurrecting some of the music of one of their local composers. They have done similar service to another Basque composer, Jésus Guridi, their CD of whose music I have also reviewed here at Amazon.


Scott Morrison
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Pleasant but somewhat generic music 19 May 2012
By G.D. - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Spanish (Basque) composer Andrés Isasi (1890-1940) was a pupil of Humperdinck, and on the evidence of this disc his music is rather generically romantic with few recognizable Spanish or Basque elements. The second symphony is a well-crafted work with a couple of attractive ideas - it is also finely scored, in a rich, late romantic vein. The first movement is particularly appealing in that respect but tends to meander a little. The slow movement is pretty anodyne (though contains some beautiful textures) whereas the Scherzo is rather lively and colorful, even though little of it lingers in one's memory afterwards. The finale is triumphant and again appealing without containing anything new or unexpected.

The second suite is a twelve-minute work in three movements; Idyll, Burleske, and Fugue. The language is slightly more modern here (even though it seems to predate the symphony) but not very much so, and the music is again rather anonymous, if pleasant and mildly enjoyable. I have no qualms with the performances by the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, which seems to be imbued with the spirit and colors the music asks for, and Juan José Mena appears to have a nice feel for the music's character and architecture. The sound quality and presentation is fine as well. Overall, though, it is hard to conjure up too much enthusiasm for this disc - it is pleasant in a rather generic way, and if you don't expect too much you will probably not be disappointed, but it would be an exaggeration to say that it really makes a difference in any relevant sense.
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