I was a little disappointed by Granados's orchestral works, which were relatively recently made available by ASV. Fernando Obradors (1897-1945) is not primarily famous for his orchestral music either, but rather for some stage works and songs. It turns out, however, that this time around ASV's exploration has yielded something really worth reviving. His El Poema de la Jungle is not particularly Spanish in sound (though one would perhaps not expected that from the title in any case), but an excellently constructed, brilliantly scored impressionistic score reminiscent of Charles Koechlin's Jungle Book cycle but far more concentrated.
The first movement is stirring, vibrant and poetic, capturing a densely vital, hot, hazy vision of the jungle, overall peaceful, but noble and mysterious at the same time and shimmering and teeming with life. The second movement is a beautifully enchanting, fragrant, impressionistic Nocturne and the third movement a marvelous, powerful and sweeping tone poem. The style is indebted to Debussy and Ravel, to be sure, but the effect is pretty spectacular.
The second symphony of Gabriel Rodó (1904-1963) - who seems to be barely if at all represented on disc apart from this release - is similarly convincing though slightly more introvert and challenging compared to Obradors's gloriously colorful tone painting. The first movement opens meditatively before launching into a romantically sweeping drama. The second is an exciting and excitable scherzo and the slow movement is troubled, even slightly painful. The finale, however, is colorful, dazzling and confident. Overall this is an invigorating and rewarding work, well worth the acquaintance of anyone with even a passing interest in twentieth century symphonism.
The Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria clearly enjoys themselves and if there are moments of rough ensemble (some of the attacks may be less than ideally sharply defined) these are more than made up for by the general color and buoyancy of these performances. The sound is also very fine, and this is all in all a splendid release, enthusiastically recommended.