Cobla Sant Jordi Ciutat de Barcelona
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Cobla Sant Jordi Ciutat de Barcelona
La Sardana
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The sardana is a Catalan dance that dates back to at least the 16th century, yet is still performed on the streets of Barcelona today. It's a circle dance in duple meter with precise little steps and hops and an intricate form. The music is equally as complex and refined. It is traditionally played by a twelve-piece band (cobla) that includes a flabiol (a small wooden flute), trumpets, trombones, flugelhorns, tibles, tenores (both double reed woodwinds), and a double bass.

The Cobla Sant Jordi is one of Spain's most acclaimed coblas. The group, which has been together since 1983, has elevated the repertoire of this street dance to such a level that they are in high demand as concert musicians. They have a rich, tight sound ­ playful yet reserved.

This release has fourteen tracks of relatively recently composed sardanes arranged in roughly chronological order from the late 1800's to 1992. While the harmonies may be more extended in the more recent tracks, the arrangements more adventurous, the basic sound remains the same. Each sardana is introduced by a twittering little flabiol flourish and the reed instruments handle most of the solo work, with the horns providing rhythmic and harmonic underpinning.

Cobla Sant Jordi makes the most of the wide dynamic and timbral range of their instruments, with sweeping crescendos, impish staccato passages, and big brassy finishes. Their sound ranges from a rustic folkiness to a brashness worthy of an MGM musical. Indeed, much of Eduard Toldrá's "Atzavares i baladres" is reminiscent of Gershwin's score to "An American in Paris." "Sant Martí di Canigó," a Pau Casals composition that debuted in 1943, has an ecclesiastic arch to it. Despite its humble beginnings, this is sophisticated music, polished as the shiny brass of the cobla. - Peggy Latkovich

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CD available from cdRoots

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