Classical CD Reviews

SANJUÁN: Castilla; Liturgia Negra – Basque National Orch. /Andrés Orozco-Estrada – Claves

Music from a Basque composer who lived until 1976,

Published on December 10, 2012

SANJUÁN: Castilla; Liturgia Negra – Basque National Orch. /Andrés Orozco-Estrada – Claves

SANJUÁN: Castilla; Liturgia Negra – Basque National Orch. /Andrés Orozco-Estrada – Claves CD 50-1109, 63:15 [Distr. By Albany] ****:

Pedro Sanjuán (1886-1976) was born in San Sebastián and moved at a young age to Madrid to study music. He continued studies at the Schola Cantorum in Paris. It is challenging to sketch the rest of his life due to lost documents.

Sanjuán was a violinist in the Madrid Symphony Orchestra under Joaquín Turina and Fernández Arbós. In 1923 Sanjuán moved to Cuba where he created the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra and continued conducting, teaching and composing. There he composed Castilla and Liturgia Negra.

He continued to conduct the Cuban orchestra until 1932. By 1934 he was back in Spain and during the civil war was an ardent supporter of the Republic. In mid-1937, he returned to Cuba to conduct the Havana orchestra. Later he was in the United States where he conducted and taught at various universities.

The two works on this disc are similar in colorful orchestration with melodies and rhythms from the Basque region. They do not sound as echt Spanish as say Issac Albeniz’s Iberia. These compositions do sound as what we consider Spanish. They are more serious than splashy. There are no castanets, no flamenco and not at all dance-like. There are certain repetitive figures that don’t warrant repetition.

The Basque orchestra is an excellent ensemble that responds unflinchingly to the swift and sure baton of Orozco-Estrada. The 56-page booklet covers the high points and appears in five languages including Basque.

Claves labels this disc as Basque Music Collection Vol. XIV. The sound is spectacular and state-of-the-art. Recommended, if the above mentioned criticisms don’t bother you.

—Zan Furtwangler




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