But the sound quality on the original prints is thin and crackly. So for this DVD, produced by the critic and concert impresario Joseph Horowitz, Naxos recruited the conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez to record the scores freshly with the PostClassical Ensemble. The performances are lively and stylish. Floyd King makes an aptly oratorical narrator. Extra features include interviews that shed light on the improbable geneses of these films.
The River was one of two major projects that Lorentz filmed with music commissioned from composer and famous music critic Virgil Thomson, and the DVD includes vibrant new recordings of the soundtracks by the D.C.-based PostClassical Ensemble.
The finer points of Thomson’s exquisite scores don’t come through on the original 1930s soundtracks, but that’s not the case with this DVD! The music and narration have been newly recorded giving these extraordinary documentaries a new lease on life. In the process, several music cuts made in the original films have been restored. We have the outstanding, up-and-coming conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez and his PostClassical Ensemble to thank for this. Known in the Washington, D.C. area for their imaginative programming and sensitive performances, they really outdo themselves here. Their efforts would undoubtedly have pleased the composer, who was also a formidable music critic.
Born in the Andalucian port town of Cadiz, [De Falla] was the creator of, among other marvelous music, the notoriously Spanish Nights in the Gardens of Spain and La vida Breve. The Spanish Radio Orchestra and Choir has been very lucky of having such individuals writing their scores. With such positive factor at their side it is only natural that they reproduce these songs so beautifully and competently.
The album rounds off with notable versions of the prologue of Atlántida (…) and the splendid miniature Psyché (…), very well interpreted by María José Montiel and Ángel Gil -Ordóñez.