The Chabrier side of this 360 label record has SUPER HOT STAMPER sound, which is positively SHOCKING for a Columbia recording. Dry, shrill and lean, most Columbia pressings don’t last ten seconds on our turntable these days — but this one sure did! Played it all the way through as a matter of fact. (We love Espana. Who doesn’t?)
Is it as rich and tubey magical as the best Londons, RCAs and Vanguards from the Golden Age? No, not really — that would be a bit much to expect. It does have some of that sound, and that alone is remarkable considering how few Columbia pressings have any at all.
A great performance from Bernstein and the New York Phil. The sound is IMMEDIATE and LIVELY, more Mercury than London, and the string tone is less dry and shrill than almost any Columbia you can name.
A Plus sound and wonderful music by Falla. This side was transparent and fairly rich but got congested when loud, hence the lower sonic grade.
Who can resist these sublimely colorful orchestral works? They are an audiophile’s dream come true. (Click on the Espana tab above to read about this wonderful work, one of the loveliest orchestrations in the classical repertroire.
España, rhapsody for orchestra (España, rapsodie pour orchestre) is a piece of music for orchestra by French composer Emmanuel Chabrier (1841–1894), being one of his most well-known works.
After a short guitar-like introduction, the first theme appears low on muted trumpets, and recurs four times during the piece. This is followed by a flowing second theme (bassoons, horns, cellos). Bassoons introduce another idea ben giocoso, sempre con impeto after which instrumental sections take up a dialogue with another highly rhythmic theme. After a return to the first theme, another flowing melody dolce espressivo on upper strings leads to a climax only broken by a marcato theme on trombones. Instrumental and thematic variants lead the piece to its ecstatic and joyous conclusion.
Chabrier’s España inaugurated the vogue for hispanically-flavoured music which found further expression in Debussy’s Ibéria and Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole.
From July to December 1882 Chabrier and his wife toured Spain, taking in San Sebastian, Burgos, Toledo, Seville, Granada, Málaga, Cádiz, Cordoba, Valencia, Saragossa and Barcelona. His letters written during his travels are full of good humour, keen observation and his reactions to the music and dance he came across – and demonstrate his genuine literary gift. In a letter to Edouard Moullé (1845–1923); a long-time musician friend of Chabrier, himself interested in folk music of Normandy and Spain), the composer details his researches into regional dance forms, giving notated musical examples. A later letter to Lamoureux, from Cadiz, dated 25 October (in Spanish) has Chabrier writing that on his return to Paris he would compose an ‘extraordinary fantasia’ which would incite the audience to a pitch of excitement, and that even Lamoureux would be obliged to hug the orchestral leader in his arms, so voluptuous would be his melodies.
Although at first Chabrier worked on the piece for piano duet, this evolved into a work for full orchestra. Composed between January and August 1883, it was originally called Jota but this became España in October 1883. Encored at its first performance, and received well by the critics, it sealed Chabrier’s fame overnight. The work was praised by Lecocq, Duparc, Hahn, de Falla (who did not think any Spanish composer had succeeded in achieving so genuine a version of the jota) and even Mahler (who declared it to be “the start of modern music” to musicians of the New York Philharmonic). Chabrier more than once described it as “a piece in F and nothing more”.
Parts of España feature prominently in the Waldteufel waltz ‘España’ of 1886. It is also the basis of the melody of the 1956 American popular song “Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom).”