2019 / SedaJazz Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
In a way, Spanish composer Jorge Granda’s La Malvarrosa is a prequel to his 2020 release, Navegante. A composer who writes music primarily for visual media, Granda wrote the music for both albums as soundtracks for imaginary films. He told me that both albums represent his definition of the contemporary classical genre today and both play a fundamental role in his discography. Granda won the Jerry Goldsmith Award (2019) for La Malvarrosa in the category of “Best Score in a Free Creation Form.” The theme from the album, “Recuerdos de Granada,” was nominated by the Hollywood Music in Media Awards in the category of “Best World Music.” In 2020, Granda scored two films: Ane, which was co-produced by the Spanish Television TVE) and Retrato de mujer blanca con pelo cano y arrugas (roughly translated as "Portrait of a White Woman with Gray Hair and Wrinkles”), both of which were introduced at Spanish film festivals.
The album is dedicated to the city of Valencia “for being always full of light and inspiring me in a specific moment.” La Malvarrosa is a popular beach in that area. From Granda: “The love for music, musical independence, peace, tranquility and inner light are some of the meanings of an album that, finally and with enormous difficulties, has been published….. Photography, paintings and sculpture have also given me ideas about the concept of the album I wanted to make.”
La Malvarrosa opens with “Puesta de Sol” (“Sunset”), a vibrant and fluid piece that captures the tranquil yet stirring beauty of a sunset over the ocean. Performed by a string quintet (two violins, viola, cello and bass) and Granda on synthesizers, it’s a gorgeous beginning. As I mentioned, “Recuerdos de Granada” (“Memories of Granada”) was nominated by the Hollywood Music in Media Awards in the “Best World Music” category, and I can easily see why. The string quintet, two percussionists, and Granda on electric and acoustic guitars and synthesizers create a portrait of a beloved area using a brilliant, passionate palette of sounds and rhythms. Granda’s guitars take the lead in “Diálogos I” (“Dialogues”), a beautiful piece with a driving rhythm and sweeping strings. I really love this one! “Caminante” (“Walker”) is a light-hearted piece with a spring in its step. Piano (John C. Leavitt), strings and flute take us for a lively walk in the sunshine - perhaps on a hillside or in a meadow full of wildflowers. The almost twelve-minute title track features piano, the string quintet, and flute performing a peaceful and blissful tribute to this lovely beach on The Mediterranean. I may have to add visiting La Malvarrosa and Valencia to my “bucket list” - even if I don’t speak Spanish! This wonderful album certainly gives it a glowing recommendation!
La Malvarrosa is available in the US from Amazon, Apple Music and streaming sites like Spotify. Traveling might be out of the question during these COVID pandemic times, but this is a good substitute for now!
January 12, 2021