Good Recording of an Uneven Work: The Bonus Brujo is Best
WRP | Palm Harbor, FL United States | 07/22/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"De Falla's "L'Atlantida" remained unfinished at the composer's death. Ernesto Hallfter attempted to complete the work which was presented in various stages of revision. This performance from La Scala represents Hallfter's next to last edition of the work. If you are expecting the usual highly coloristic/folkloristic writing of De Falla, you will be disappointed. In "L'Atlantida" De Falla experimented with a lot of compositional and orchestral styles--Stravinsky, Orff, Honegger--to communicate a libretto which intermixes some of Hercules's adventures with the destruction of Atlantis and Queen Isabella's investment in the voyages of Columbus. Throw in a lot of Roman Catholic religiosity to hold it all together. The Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala do an admirable job with the mish-mash score under the direction of Thomas Schippers. A very mezzo-soprano-sounding Teresa Stratas beautifully inflects the short passages of Queen Isabella in honeyed tones. Giulietta Simionato takes the even smaller role of Queen Pyrene at her death and does what she can with it. The other soloists are adequate. Frankly the work lacks much dramatic tension or memorable melody though the orchestral and choral writing is inventive, lush, albeit rather academic-sounding. The real treat is a bonus "live" performance of "El Amor Brujo" with Teresa Berganza. Ataulfo Argenta whips a sizzling performance out of the French National Radio Orchestra. Berganza really sings the solos with just the right blend of pristine musicianship and earthy emotion."