(first published in The Cincinnati Post Nov. 23, 2001)
Jesús López-Cobos: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Turina, "Danzas
Fantasticas," "Sinfonia Sevillana," "La Procesion del
Rocio." Debussy, "Iberia" from "Images."
For his 26th and final recording as Cincinnati Symphony music director, Jesús López-Cobos has left a signature disc, music of his native Spain.
Music director emeritus since September, when he was succeeded by Estonian-born Paavo Järvi, López-Cobos signed on in 1986 with a critically acclaimed recording of Manuel de Falla's "Three Cornered Hat." Since then, his wide-ranging discography with the CSO (all for Telarc) has made room for Albeniz and Falla, plus Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos and Spanish-inspired works by Bizet and Ravel.
No one does it better than López-Cobos, as he demonstrates once again in three of the best known works by Joaquin Turina (1882-1949) and Debussy's Spanish evocation "Iberia" from his "Images" for Orchestra.
This is music to delight the ear -- musical picture postcards, as it were -- with lots of brilliant detail. There are castanets and tambourines, plaintive English horn solos, even a "cante hondo" in "Danzas Fantasticas." "La Procesion del Rocio," the work that made Turina famous, works up to a stirring conclusion with chimes and a quote from the Spanish national anthem. My favorite is "Sinfonia Sevillana," a three-movement programmatic symphony inspired by Turina's native city (Seville), with its liltingly beautiful "On the Banks of the Guadalquivir."
Debussy's color-splashed "Iberia," with its wispy melodies and guitar-like strings, comes across vividly, too, in Telarc's Direct Stream Digital Sound. Kudos to concertmaster Timothy Lees and the CSO winds for their stylish solos. The CSO literally blooms under López-Cobos' baton. Muchas gracias to all.