4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
First, this is a true sonic spectacular. There a small measure of tape hiss (and traffic noises!) that you can hear in the softer passages, but wow! what vivid presence and clear instrumental definition.
The music? Light-fare, easy-listening, entertaining, straddling Broadway and classical. Eight tracks out of the disc's 15 are devoted to the music of Ernesto Lecuona, and though I knew the name, I think it is my first encounter with the music. I had (I don't know where from) the notion of Lecuona as a not-too-modern but colorful composer of Spanish/American-derived classical music, a kind of Cuban Rodrigo or Villa Lobos. Hearing Jungle Drums (track 1), La Comparsa (track 2) and Danza Lucumi (track 6), he appears more as a composer of Latin-American pop and easy-listening; but then, Gitanerias, Andalucia and Malaguena (tracks 3 to 5) conform more to my expectations. Incidentally, the disc's booklet isn't very informative about all these pieces. Those tracks 3 to 5 appear to be all part of a Suite Andalucia, which includes also Cordoba (track 7), but from which two movements, Alhambra and Guadalquivir, have been left out - too bad. The Rapsodia Negra offers the modest originality of a concertante harp, and the music sounds like Copland's "prairie" music. The suite and the other Lecuona pieces originated as a piano compositions and we are not told if the orchestrations are by Lecuona himself, but presumably not, since the "arrangements" of Malaguena and Danza lucumi (track 6) are credited to respectively "Gould" and "Gunther".
The rest is the same mixture of exotic-sounding and mostly Latin-American-derived easy-listening (Gould's "Tropical", Ellington's "Caravan") and popular classical (Falla's Fire Dance from El Amor Brujo, Villa Lobos' Little Train of the Capira, the final Toccata from his Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2, Fernandez' Batuque), all "sonic spectaculars". I doubt that Hawaiian War Chant is very genuinely Hawaian, and if it is it is Hawaian from Malibu, and Ellington's lush "Caravan" might have been used by Disney in Aladdin - it's a caravan from Harlem to Hollywood.
I had to do some research on the net to find out that that "Fernandez", the author of "Batuque", is the Brasilian Oscar Lorenzo Fernández and that Batuque is an Afro-Brazilian folk-dance excerpted from his opera Malazarte. Same thing with "Mooney", the composer of "Swamp Fire", in fact Harold Mooney (and Swamp Fire dates from 1935). I had the curiosity to listen to the original Swamp Fire, recorded in the mid-thirties by Mooney himself and a jazz-band, a lively, jaunty foxtrot with no particular exoticism. Well, I don't know whose orchestration Gould uses, presumably his own, but it isn't the same piece, turning it into another Fire Dance - probably what Gould, quoted in the liner notes, had in mind when saying that he chose "to make the flames spread".
TT is a shortish 51:43.