Introducing: Ruperto Chapí (1851-1909)

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

This is a lively and captivating disc of music that’s very much of its time and place (1870s), but in a good way. The Fantasía morisca has four colorfully orchestrated movements—it’s almost a prototypical Iberia, or perhaps a sort of Spanish Tchaikovsky or Delibes. You’re going to love it, and the music is all the more remarkable given the lack of a Spanish orchestral tradition at the time in question. Chapí spent most of the remainder of his career writing theatrical music, unsurprisingly, but I would very much like to hear more from him.

The Symphony in D minor, Chapí’s only work in the form, is also typical in its somewhat formulaic approach to form and its conservative scoring. It’s really a telling example of everything that went wrong with German symphonic music in the second half of the 19th century (Brahms and Bruckner excepted, of course). However, in the hands of this talented Spaniard it becomes clear that an appealing melodic gift added to a real talent for instrumentation—there’s more to characterful orchestration than snazzy glockenspiel riffs and harp glissandos—could breathe life into the most hackneyed forms. Think Bizet’s Symphony in C and you’ll get the picture.

The performances under José Ramón Encinar are completely convincing. Particularly admirable is the energy infused into the outer movements of the symphony, a work that I could easily imagine sounding a touch fusty. The Fantasía relies more on sheer color, and Encinar delivers that in spades. Very good sonics make this release a treat for anyone who loves the picturesque back alleys of the romantic period.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None


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