XAVIER BENGUEREL (b.1931): Spleen (Enriqueta Tarrés [soprano], Rosa M. Ysàs [mezzo], Josep Ruiz [tenor], Enric Serra [baritone], Chamber Orchestra; Edmon Colomer [rec. 1984), Arbor (Maria del Carmen Bustamante [soprano], Anna Ricci [mezzo], Cor Madrigal, Orquesta Ciudad de Barcelona; Antoni Ros Marbà [rec. 1979]).
Catalogue Number: 09K088
Description: 2 CDs. Catalan-English libretto (Spleen), Original language texts (Arbor). Spleen tells the story of the interactions among four people; a washed-up artist, his two mistresses and an influential art critic. Emphasizing the internal, psychological drama, the music tells us more about the true states of mind of the increasingly drug-addled artist and his companions than their bourgeois discussions about art and sex, leading to an increasingly oppressive sense of conflict as the work progresses. Benguerel's vocabulary is very noticeably influenced by the Second Viennese school and expressionism; we are somewhere well along the Zimmermann-Berg axis of operatic angst much of the time. The cantata Arbor is a deliberately confrontational and disturbing work, narrating a history of violence in the world, incorporating texts from the Bible, Hitler, Martin Luther King, Dante and many more diverse literary and historical sources. Even more than the opera, this piece suggests a Zimmermann all-inclusive approach to dramaturgy, with gigantically amplified narrators, an ominous, discordant orchestral backdrop and muttering, moaning crowd effects from the choir. When more conventional sung parts are introduced in response to the meaning of some of the texts, the contrast in effect and emotional resonance could not be more marked.