FALLA: La vida breve
Victoria de los Angeles, Inés Rivadeneyra, Anna María Higueras, Carlo Cossutta, Victor de Narké, Gabriel Moreno, Luis Villarejo, José María Higuero, Juan de Andia/Spanish National Orchestra & Chorus; Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, cond.
El sombrero de tres picos
Victoria de los Angeles/Philharmonia Orch; Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, cond. 
El amor brujo
Victoria de los Angeles/Philharmonia Orch; Carlo Maria Giulini, cond.  Soneto a Córdoba.   Psyché.
Victoria de los Angeles; Annie Challan, harp; Jean-Claude Gérard, flute; Trio à Cordes Français
EMI CLASSICS 67590 (2 CDs) (M) (ADD) TT:  76:32 & 73:20
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Spanish soprano Victoria de los Angeles has enjoyed a long and distinguished career singing a wide variety of roles including Mozart, Massenet, Puccini, Mascagni and Wagner.  One of her earliest successes was a BBC broadcast of Falla's La vida breve in which she sang the tragic country girl Salud who is betrayed by her lover Paco. Her performance was so successful she was considered the definitive interpreter of the role.  She had recorded two excerpts for HMV in 1947, the complete work in 1952 and re-recorded it in stereo in 1965 the one heard on this reissue.  De los Angeles said she felt by the time of the second complete recording she had deepened her own interpretation and added additional colour by adopting a pronunciation appropriate for the Granada region where the work takes place.  And what a performance it is! She is perfect in every way, and EMI has surrounded her with artists of similar stature.  Most important is conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos then at the beginning of his distinguished career.  All supporting singers are superb, the Spanish chorus and orchestra could not be bettered.  The sense of atmosphere in this recording is extraordinary as is the recording quality, from the intimacy of the flamenco singer and guitar solo at the beginning of the second act, to the rousing dances with fiery castanets.  

De los Angeles also is featured singing with consumate taste the brief soprano solos in the complete Three-Cornered Hat ballet, this time with Burgos conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra.  There are many fine recordings of this colorful score—this, recorded in 1963 in London's Kingsway Hall,  is among the best.  The soprano also is featured in El amor brujo, with the Philharmonia Orchestra this time conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini.  At that time Giulini was considerably more dynamic than he has been for the past three decades.  This also was recorded in Kingsway, but with two recording dates:  October 1961 and April 1964.  There is no indication of the reason for this.  It would seem a part had to be re-recorded but there is no indication of which part(s), or why there is such a lengthy time between sessions...and listening provides no clues.  Some might prefer a lustier, more gusty singing of the soprano part, but de los Angeles' singing is magnificent in its sophisticated way.

There's room on these two well-filled CDs for worthy bonuses:  Seven Popular Spanish Songs recorded in 1961 and 1962 with pianist Gonzalo Soriano, and two short "fillers,"  Soneto a Córdoba (scored for soprano and harp) and  Psyché (for soprano, flute and string trio) both recorded in 1969 in Paris.

This is a gem in the Great Recordings of the Century series, a perfect combination of repertory and artists as well as superb engineering -- and at mid price!  Highly recommended!

R.E.B.