Three Concertos - Pianist Jorge Federico Osorio
Pickwick's IMP label has a clear winner among new releases, featuring the outstanding Mexican pianist Jorge Federico Osorio and conductor Herrera de la Fuente. Three popular piano-orchestra works are included in superb performances, spectacular sonics and a timing of 78:52. If value for money means anything, this de Falla-Rachmaninoff-Tchaikovsky constitutes one of the catalog's great bargains.
Osorio opens with de Falla's impressionistic Nights in the Gardens of Spain, followed by blazing accounts of Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43, and Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23. De la Fuente conducts the Xalapa Symphony for the Falla, and his Mineria Symphony in the other two concertos. (Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody" is actually and introduction, Theme and Variations, laid out as three traditional movements of a Concerto - a Concerto in all but title. Falla's three Nocturnes also amount to a concerto.)
The disc is actually collated from two recent recordings - a thing on which the jacket notes are mute. All three stem form major producer-engineer Jonathan Wearn, which means polished audiophile quality. When this Nights in the Garden Of Spain first appeared on an all-Falla disc, the Washington Post picked it as their Record of the Year, and the San Francisco Chronicle in its Top Ten of the Year. It was widely recognized as a major - in several cases, definitive - version. The subtlety of playing, perfect tempos and mood painting are miraculous.
The Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky recordings were coupled on Wearn's own Opus Magnum label, a much lamented company. These are competitive with the best versions, and far better than the majority. Osorio tinkles and thunders his way through these virtuoso dreadnoughts with the technical acumen of Horowitz and the sensibilities of Rubinstein. Then too, Osorio has the advantage of de la Fuente's mature artistry and Mexico's finest orchestras.
A few explanations are due on these two orchestras. Xalapa is a spa (for the wealthy) on Mexico's east Coast. It is famous as a resort, with curative baths and mineral waters said to help relieve arthritis and gout. Patients go there from all over the Americas. The Mineria Symphony, whose members are drawn from international sources, is a cultural project of the Mineria Society - a 250-year old equivalent of the Smithsonian institute or National Geographic Society in the U.S. But in Mexico, Mineria ("Minerals" in Spanish), encompasses not only all the sciences, but all the arts - all things concerning mankind. Both live and on disc, the Mineria Symphony is world class. (One fervently hopes IMP will reissue their outstanding Dvorak New World Symphony - which is quite simply, the best.)
Jacket notes only in English, and none are too informative. No matter. Sonics, like the performances, are exemplary. Highest recommendation.