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L'heure espagniole - Espana

By Alexandre Duhamel

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By Alexandre Duhamel, Asher Fisch, Gaelle Arquez, Julien Behr, Lionel Lhote, Mathias Vidal, and Muenchner Rundfunkorchester. By Maurice Ravel: Emmanuel Chabrier. Classical. CD. Naxos #BRK900317. Published by Naxos (NX.BRK900317).

Item Number: NX.BRK900317

The thought of Spain filled many French composers of the 19th and early 20th century with musical yearning - one has only to think of Georges Bizet's opera ""Carmen"", Maurice Ravel's ""Rhapsodie espagnole"" (1907), or his famous ""Bolero"" (1928). Ravel was already inspired by things Iberian in his first work for the stage: ""L'heure espagnole"" (""The Spanish Hour""), a one-act musical comedy set in Toledo, which premiered in Paris on May 19, 1911. Here he combined fantasy and comedy in the action with "spoken music" full of local Spanish colour. The short opera ends, for instance, with a fiery habanera. Ravel masterfully and wittily integrates the clocks chiming in the workshop of clockmaker Torquemada into the score, together with the sound of their ticking, and of all kinds of chimes or mechanical music machines producing cuckoo calls when striking the hour. Emmanuel Chabrier's rhapsody for orchestra with the promising title of ""Espana"" was composed in 1883 and premiered in Paris. The music was inspired by a Spanish journey that Chabrier had undertaken the year before, during which he had noted down many original motifs and rhythms. Spanish folklore is ever-present; in addition to the melodies, it is above all the rhythmic motifs and movement patterns that, when combined, achieve a complexity that was still unknown in art music at that time. These are live recordings of these two magnificent works.

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