Chandos Release of Arriaga – Mozart with a smile

If you’re not familiar with Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga, this release is an excellent introduction. Arriaga was dubbed the “Spanish Mozart,” and with good reason. Like Mozart, he had a natural facility for the piano, and for composition. And like Mozart, he died young.

Arriaga wrote his opera “Los esclavos felices” when he was fourteen. Although it was produced and launched his career, only the overture and a few fragments survive.

Arriga extensively revised the score in 1821, which is the version recorded here. It has Mozartian lilt to it, bursting with energy and good spirits.

Arriaga’s 1824 Symphony in D shifts between major and minor. Here Arriaga seems inspired by Beethoven as well as Mozart.

Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic give performances well-suited to the music. Even Arriaga’s dramatic, 30-minute symphony has a lightness and transparency to it. Mena understands that essential nature of Arriaga and delivers on every track.

Two vocal works are included: the cantata “Herminie” and “Air de l’Opéra Médée” The 15-minute cantata is, quite simply, a masterwork of vocal writing. It hints at what the operatic world lost with Arriaga’s early death.

Soprano Berit Norbakken Solset sings with a clear, pure tone that continually delights. Her delivery reinforces the stylistic similarities between Arriaga and Mozart.

Arriaga’s music is sometimes characterized as “Mozart with a smile.” That’s especially true with this release. Highly recommended for the beauty of the music and the sterling performances it receives.

Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga: Symphony, Herminie, and Other Works
Berit Norbakken Solset, soprano | 
BBC Philharmonic; Juanjo Mena, conductor
Chandos CHAN 20077

More Recent Posts

  • Joseph Bodin de Boismortier Chamber Music all business

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget that music is a business — even classical music. It’s something Joseph Bodin de Boismortier always remembered. And it made him wealthy. Boismortier was active in the early 1700s and a contemporary of Rameau. He was one of the first composers to be successful without a patron. Louis XV granted […]

  • Dec 19: WTJU Holiday Party and Vinyl Takeover at Potters Craft Cider

    Come celebrate the season with your favorite community radio station! On Thursday, December 19th, 6 – 9 p.m., WTJU is taking over Potter’s Craft Cider, at their grand new tasting room at 1350 Arrowhead Valley Rd, just a few minutes south of Charlottesville on Route 29. This year’s WTJU Holiday Party coincides with our Vinyl Takeover series, […]

  • The Celebratory Suites of Pancho Vladigerov

    Tags: , ,

    In Bulgaria, Pancho Vladigerov is almost considered the founder of classical music. Like Bedrich Smetana and Antonin Dvorak, he deftly blended his country’s folk music with Western classical traditions. And like those composers, he created music of both national and international appeal. The characteristic odd meters of Slavic folk music gives Vladigerov’s compositions a bubbling […]

  • Angela on the Arts stops by All That Jazz, Dec 5

    Trumpeter John D’earth and bass clarinetist Michelle Oliva will join Rus Perry on All That Jazz to present their new release “Within.”  Together with violist Bonnie Gordon, D’earth and Oliva make up the improvisational trio Angela On The Arts.

  • New Jazz Adds – 12/3/2019

    New Jazz Adds – 12/3/2019 Darren Barrett – The EVI Sessions – Mr. Steiner (Self-produced): “On Mr. Steiner, Barrett delves into the world of synthesis guru Nyle Steiner, credited for the invention of the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument) as well as the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument), made popular by saxophonist Michael Brecker. Created in the 70s, the […]

  • New Blues & Soul Adds – 12/3/2019

    New Blues & Soul Adds – 12/3/2019 New Blues: Diane Blue – Look For The Light (Regina Royale Records): “Ms. Blue is a soul-stirring vocalist, skillful harmonica player whose powerful delivery of Soul, Blues & R&B is captivating. Her performances are charismatic and heartfelt, whether fronting her own world-class band or singing alongside master Bluesman Ronnie […]