$12.95 - MSR Jazz, CD Baby, Arkiv Music, Amazon, iTunes

2016 NEW RELEASE: In her sophomore album, Metropolitan Opera Soprano Danielle Talamantes crosses over into the realm of jazz with a recording filled with standard gems and rarely heard masterpieces. With arrangements by Henry Dehlinger, Larry Ham, Caren Levine, and Marvin Mills, this album's charts were almost exclusively written for this very recording. 

Duke Ellington / Duke Ellington [arr. H. Dehlinger]

Duke Ellington / Billy Strayhorn and Gerald Wilson [arr. H. Dehlinger]

Duke Ellington / Manny Kurtz and Irving Mills [arr. L. Ham]

Duke Ellington / Bob Russell [arr. L. Ham]

Duke Ellington / Irving Gordon and Irvings Mills [arr. L. Ham]

Duke Ellington / Bob Russell [arr. H. Dehlinger]

Duke Ellington / Irving Mills and Mitchell Parish [arr. H. Dehlinger]

Duke Ellington, Harry James and Johnny Hodges / Don George [arr. C. Levine]

Duke Ellington / Eddie Delange and Irving Mills [arr. C. Levine]

MEDITATION (piano solo)
Duke Ellington [arr. H. Dehlinger]

Duke Ellington / Duke Ellington [arr. M. Mills]

Duke Ellington / Duke Ellington [arr. H. Dehlinger]

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974) is a colossus among American composers of any genre. With a career spanning more than 50 years, he wrote more than one thousand compositions, many of which have become jazz standards as well as precious, irreplaceable gems of the American Songbook. While music historians are wont to view him as a jazz or big band swing composer, Ellington’s work reaches far beyond. Many musicologists have neglected the extensive body of sacred music that Ellington produced, four of which are presented in this album. In truth, Ellington did not consider himself a jazz or big band writer and performer. In his words, he wrote and played “the natural feelings of a people.”

Ellington conceived his works differently than others of the big band era. Typical arrangements of that period were written for a rhythm section supporting full sections of saxophones, trumpets and trombones with occasional short, improvised solos for contrast. Ellington was like a playwright, producing more script than manuscript, giving voice to leads within his cast of characters, then supporting the tale they wove with other voices within the cast. He chose his players not only for their musical proficiency, but also for their strong personalities. Unlike classic big band, Ellington encouraged his band to express themselves in their music, to let their individual personalities shine through.

The early works were often released as three-minute instrumental singles, the maximum time possible on the single side of a ten-inch 78 RPM record. Words were added later, sometimes several years later, and by a variety of lyricists, adding another sparkling—sometimes startling —dimension to the captivating saga. Whether an instrumental or vocal arrangement, these pieces carry away the listener with Ellington’s uniquely transcendent, supremely evocative, and unequalled style.

I first learned of Danielle and Henry’s Ellington project at a small gathering of musicians, a soiree of sorts, where artists, including some of Danielle’s most promising pupils from her voice studio, were performing works in progress and experimenting with concepts. When asked how she would follow her debut recording, Canciones españolas, Danielle thought aloud, “Possibly something out of the American Songbook…maybe an Ellington collection.” She and Henry had actually been performing two or three Ellington standards for some time, and they performed Larry Ham’s setting of In a Sentimental Mood for the gathering. Henry then improvised accompaniment for sections of a few other standards. It was obvious at that point that this idea was bound to become a beautiful new recording.

This collection captures the genius of Ellington’s compositions and the emotional range of the performers—soprano Danielle Talamantes and pianist Henry Dehlinger. It features settings written by Larry Ham, Caren Levine, Marvin Mills and—in his debut as an arranger—Henry Dehlinger. Danielle and Henry have collaborated extensively on both performance and recording (including Canciones), and Henry wrote his arrangements featured in this album specifically for Danielle’s voice (as did Levine and Mills with their arrangements of Solitude and Heaven, respectively).

The descriptions below include references to original, famous and historically significant versions of these compositions. While the performances in this collection certainly stand on their own, I encourage seeking out additional recordings to hear and compare how others have interpreted Ellington’s “stories.” While listening, ponder the circumstances, the times and places during which these treasures were created, and reflect on the effect on audiences across generations.

During Ellington’s lifetime, a chasm existed—or was, at least, perceived—between the disciplines of “serious music” (as orchestral or classical music was called) and jazz music. In a televised interview in 1966, Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington discussed an erosion of this divide. Both were seeing that the aficionados supporting symphony concerts were the same enthusiastic attendees at Ellington performances. Bernstein expressed to Ellington, “You were one of the first people who wrote so-called symphonic jazz. Maybe that’s the difference between us. You wrote symphonic jazz, and I wrote jazz symphonies.” This collection of American music is intelligently conceived, sensitively arranged, and beautifully performed. Duke Ellington once said, quite simply, “If it sounds good, it IS good.” Danielle, Henry and audiences alike can be confident: This collection, indeed, IS good.

 -Scott Parrish, Raleigh, North Carolina
Soprano Danielle Talamantes is an international recitalist who made her Carnegie Hall debut in a solo recital in 2007. Since then, she has appeared as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore and Nashville Symphony Orchestras, National Philharmonic Chorale and Orchestra, United States Army Chorus, Choralis, Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler, Trujillo Symphony Orchestra and Seoul Philharmonic. Talamantes joined the Metropolitan Opera roster in the spring of 2011. In 2015, she made her Metropolitan Opera stage debut as Frasquita in Bizet’s Carmen. She made her Lincoln Center debut at Alice Tully Hall as the soprano soloist in the world premiere of Bob Chilcott’s Requiem and returned to the National Philharmonic in Beethoven’s Choral Symphony and Mozart’s Requiem and Exsultate, jubilate. Other highlights include the soprano lead in the world premiere production of Janice Hamer’s Lost Childhood with the National Philharmonic, Handel’s Messiah with the Phoenix Symphony, Mozart’s Mass in C minor with the City Choir of Washington and Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Cedar Rapids Opera. She also sings the role of Violetta in La traviata at Cedar Rapids Opera and Finger Lakes Opera, Adina in L’elisir d’amore at Gulf Shore Opera and Mimí in La boheme at St. Petersburg Opera. Talamantes reprises her role as Frasquita and sings the role of Anna in Nabucco at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2016-17 season. Talamantes’ first place competition honors include the Irene Dalis Opera San Jose Competition, Irma M. Cooper Opera Columbus Competition, XII Concurso de Trujillo, NATS Artist Award and Vocal Arts Society Discovery Series competition. She earned her BA from Virginia Tech and MM from Westminster Choir College. ]

Pianist Henry Dehlinger has appeared on some of the world’s leading stages, including San Francisco’s War Memorial and Performing Arts Center and the White House in Washington, D.C. He has also appeared as featured soloist with The United States Army Chorus, guest performer on Washington’s Embassy Row, and in concert for notable public officials, including the President of the United States and the Prince of Wales. Celebrated for his interpretation of great Spanish piano works, in 2011, Dehlinger released his first album, Evocations of Spain, featuring selections from Isaac Albéniz’s Iberia and Enrique Granados’ Goyescas and 12 Danzas españolas. In 2013, Dehlinger began his artistic collaboration with soprano Danielle Talamantes which resulted in the critically acclaimed Canciones españolas album on MSR Classics. Heaven and Earth, Dehlinger’s second collaboration album with Talamantes, marks his debut as a jazz arranger. Born in San Francisco, Dehlinger started playing the piano at age six and singing at seven. His first mentor was the late conductor and choirmaster William Ballard of the San Francisco Boys Chorus, whom Dehlinger credits for his early success. By the time he was eleven, he had earned a reputation as a prodigious talent, performing with major orchestras under conductors such as Riccardo Chailly and Edo de Waart and at the San Francisco Opera with operatic legends Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballé and Giorgio Tozzi. At age twelve, Dehlinger became a pupil of renowned piano virtuoso Thomas LaRatta, founder and director of the Crestmont Conservatory of Music, with whom he continues his piano performance studies. Dehlinger graduated from Santa Clara University where he studied history and piano. [ ]



Granados, Falla & Turina


$12.95 - MSR Classics, CDBaby, Arkiv Music, Amazon, iTunes


2014 NEW RELEASE: In her debut album, Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes performs a gorgeous recital of Spanish songs from three of Spain's greatest composers - Enrique Granados (1867-1916), Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), and Joaquin Turina (1882-1949).


ENRIQUE GRANADOS (1867 – 1916)

[2] Mira que soy niña
[3] Mañanica era
[4] Serranas de Cuenca
[5] Gracia mía
[6] Descúbrase el pensamiento
[7] Lloraba la niña
[8] No lloréis, ojuelos

MANUEL DE FALLA (1876 – 1946)
[9] El paño moruno
[10] Seguidilla murciana
[11] Asturiana
[12] Jota
[13] Nana
[14] Canción
[15] Polo

JOAQUÍN TURINA (1882 – 1949)
[16] Romance
[17] El Pescador
[18] Rima


In nearly every discussion about Spanish music, we find that the composers represented in this splendid Talamantes and Dehlinger recording – Enrique Granados (1867-1916), Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), and Joaquin Turina (1882-1949) – are placed among Spain’s standard bearers of musical nationalism. While we might be tempted to suspect this is simply a convenient construct of today’s musicologists, we will find that these composers indeed saw one another in the same light.

Consider Turina’s description of an encounter with composer Isaac Albéniz and Manuel de Falla in Paris, 1907:

…The three of us walked arm in arm along the Champs-Elysées…After crossing the Place de la Concorde, we sat in a tavern on Royal Street and there, with a glass of champagne and pastries, I experienced the most complete metamorphosis of my life…There, Albéniz spoke of European music, and there I completely changed my views. We were three Spaniards on a corner in Paris and we owed it to Spain to make great efforts for our national music. I will never forget that scene nor will I forget that thin young man with us, the illustrious Manuel de Falla.

The relationship between Falla and Turina had developed early in their careers, well before this encounter in Paris. They were both Andalusians – Falla from Cádiz and Turina from Seville – who had relocated to Madrid to benefit from the opportunities the nation’s capital afforded. At the beginning of the 20th century, by far the most lucrative path to follow was that of a zarzuelero, a composer of Spanish operetta. Unfortunately, neither composer experienced much success with their zarzuelas. In the case of Falla, he was further frustrated with the fact that although his opera, La vida breve, had, in 1904, won first prize in a competition sponsored by La Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, he could not find a company in Madrid to produce it. Meanwhile, an equally discouraged Turina curtailed attempts to write for the stage and enrolled at the national conservatory where he studied symphonic and chamber music and piano under Falla’s teacher, José Tragó. 

Stifled by the musical scene in Madrid and drawn, like so many composers, to the City of Light, Turina arrived in Paris in 1905. Falla followed in 1907. Paris was a mecca for foreign artists of all disciplines. During these years, Spanish music was much in vogue in Paris and its composers flourished. Falla and Turina could now count within their circle Debussy, Ravel, Dukas, D’Indy, Viñes, and, of course, Albéniz. Tragically, this vibrant artistic community was dispersed with the beginning of World War I in 1914.

Though forced to return to Madrid, Falla and Turina were not willing to abandon what they had learned from their French teachers. With teachers as eminent as Dukas and D’Indy, respectively, it must have been self-evident that there would be immeasurable value in retaining the knowledge that had been imparted to them. Thus, with patriotic fervor tempered by cosmopolitan ambition, they continued on their journey of “musica española con vistas a Europa.” Accordingly, as we listen to the works of these composers in this album, we will hear much more than simple adaptations of Spanish folk music. Rather, each work exhibits a possibility along a rich spectrum of aesthetic synthesis.

The case is somewhat different with Enrique Granados, our third composer. The impact of Paris on his music was minimal in comparison to that of Falla and Turina. He was there only as a student, from 1887 to 1889, and returned to Spain long before the younger generation of Spaniards arrived. As a Catalan musician born in Lérida his work reflects three dimensions, each consistent with the geographic description of his adulthood home, Barcelona. It is a city located in Catalonia, a region fiercely independent of Castile and Andalusia. The city is a major population center that, nevertheless, has strong cultural ties to the rest of Spain. It is also regarded as a major European city at a crossroads of international commerce and culture. Yet, we will find that Granados was not a strict regionalist. He published songs in both Castilian and Catalan. Without doubting the importance of his beloved Barcelona, we will see that he looked to Madrid as the true capital of the nation. 

Granados was not present at the famous 1907 meeting in Paris. However, as a contemporary and friend of Albéniz, Granados was regarded by both Falla and Turina as an elder statesman from whom they drew inspiration in a manner similar to Albéniz. Thus, the bond between these composers is complete – a bond created not retroactively by historians, but by the composers themselves. It is a bond of admiration, friendship, national pride, and inspiration.

These composers pledged to write Spanish music. We need to ask ourselves, what did they mean by this? Does Spanish music derive from Andalusia, Castile, Catalonia? And when was it formed, in Spain’s royal courts and cathedrals in the 16th - 17th centuries, during the “golden” era when the nation was a military, economic and cultural superpower,or was it formed in the gypsy caves of Granada or the arid plains of La Mancha? And how much of what we hear as Spanish music owes a debt to foreigners? Was French Impressionism “an invasion of vulgarity from the north,” as some early-20th-century Spanish critics contended, or was it a missing ingredient that, once discovered by Spaniards such as Turina and Falla, helped catapult Spanish music to the world stage? Each of our composers answered these questions differently, yet each did so authentically. Their different approaches will be evident as we look more closely at the repertoire presented in this album. La maja y el ruiseñor (The Maiden and the Nightingale, 1915), by Enrique Granados, speaks of two worlds. An aria from his opera, Goyescas, it is spectacular in its Romantic exuberance, harmonic lushness and sweeping lines. Yet, the opera itself speaks of Madrid in early times, during the era of the lower-class yet flamboyant majos and majas of the late 18th century so aptly depicted in the paintings of Francisco Goya. 


Granados reaches further into the past with Canciones amatorias (1913). In his authoritative biography on Granados, Walter Aaron Clark observes that all of the texts of Canciones amatorias are Castilian romances that date from before 1700. They represent the Siglo de Oro, the golden century of which we have spoken. Clark further notes, “Granados’s celebration of Castilian poetry from a bygone era of imperial glory is consistent with his fixation on Castile and Madrid as the spiritual and cultural fulcra of the nation.”

When we survey the total output of our three composers, it is abundantly evident that Falla was the most progressive, even radical. He wholeheartedly embraced Debussy’s Impressionism, with its dense yet consonant harmonies, in works such as Noches en los jardines de España, while at other times he incorporated the biting polytonality of Stravinsky with Retablo de Maese Pedro and the Harpsichord Concerto. Yet, Falla was also deeply committed to the folk music of Spain. So much so that in 1922 he and García Lorca, the great Spanish poet and dramatist, traveled the Andalusian countryside seeking out true practitioners of cante jondo, the “deep song” that is an essential component of what we understand as flamenco music today. 

It is no surprise then, that despite his radical leanings, Falla would set Siete canciones populares españolas (Seven Spanish Folk Songs, 1914), in a manner not far removed from their folk origins. Having selected these songs from previously published cancioneros, or song collections, Falla presents a pan-Iberian, rather than a regionally myopic, vision of his native land. El paño moruno and Seguidilla murciana are from southeastern Spain while Asturiana refers to Asturias, in the northwest of the country. Falla again crisscrosses the country with the Jota, originating in the northeastern region of Aragon, and Nana and Polo representing Andalusia in the far south. In Falla’s arrangements, the characteristic elements of Spanish folk music - dance rhythms, asymmetrical phrases, modal harmonies, and references to the guitar – lie near the surface, thereby retaining their energy and regional identity.

Written in 1923, Turina’s Tres arias draws upon three Romantic poets of the 19th century - Duque de Rivas (1791-1865), Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870), and José de Espronceda (1808-1842). The first, Romance, is a revival of a literary form, the romance fronterizo. These “frontier ballads” often idealized Moorish Spain, mixing historical events with love stories. Given Turina’s devout Catholicism, it might be surprising to realize that he chose a poem in which the protagonist is a Moor who has just defeated the Christian forces at Toledo. However, his interest in such themes was consistent with the times in which he lived. At the end of the 19th century and continuing into the early 20th, it was common in some Spanish intellectual circles to celebrate – even exaggerate – the Arabic contributions to Spanish culture and to romanticize the exotic, oriental culture of the Arabs which flourished in medieval Spain. There were, of course, many who opposed such views and sought to narrate Spain’s cultural history quite differently. This debate was especially lively among music historians of the time.

Turina’s early biographer, Federico Sopeña, speaks of Turina’s setting of Bécquer’s Rima with eloquence: “The Rima placed in the collection Tres Arias seems to be among the most masterful of this genre. At a stroke and with a vigorous tone, Turina successfully united the Romantic with the Andalusian without having to present the latter element in a literal manner. The melody arises in perfect linear fashion, intense and delicate – a Bécquerian paradox – and, with an enchanting simplicity, faithfully following the poetry, it exclaims or whispers of that mysterious beyond in which this poetry always leaves us.” 

As we explore Spain with Talamantes and Dehlinger through the vocal compositions of three of the country’s greatest composers, that “mysterious beyond” draws near.

William Craig Krause
Hollins University
August 2014


Soprano Danielle Talamantes is an international recitalist who made her Carnegie Hall debut in a sold-out solo recital in 2007. Since then, she has sung as soprano soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Choralis, Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, Nashville Symphony, National Philharmonic Chorale & Orchestra, Oratorio Society of Virginia, Seoul Philharmonic, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Trujillo Symphony Orchestra of Peru, and The United States Army Band. Talamantes joined the Metropolitan Opera roster in 2011, covering the role of Najade in Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos. She was subsequently re-engaged to cover the role of the Flower Maiden in Wagner’s Parsifal, the soprano in the quartet of lovers in the Baroque pastiche, The Enchanted Island, and most recently to perform in Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten.

In 2013, she made her debut as Mimì in Puccini’s La bohème with the Capital City Symphony and performed the soprano lead in the world premiere production of Janice Hamer’s Lost Childhood with the National Philharmonic in Washington D.C. She was Soprano-in-Residence for the Summer 2012 Marlboro Music Festival in Marlboro, Vermont. Talamantes made her Lincoln Center Alice Tully debut in the 2013-14 season as the soprano soloist in Bob Chilcott’s Requiem, and she will make her stage debut in a return to the Metropolitan Opera in the 2014-2015 season as Frasquita in Bizet’s Carmen. Talamantes’ first place competition honors include the Irene Dalis Opera San Jose Competition, Irma M. Cooper Opera Columbus Competition, XII Concurso de Trujillo, International Lotte Lehman Cybersing Competition, NATS Artist Award and Vocal Arts Society Discovery Series competition. [ ]

Pianist Henry Dehlinger has distinguished himself on celebrated stages from the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center to the White House in Washington, D.C. and is widely acclaimed as a significant interpreter of Spanish classical piano. Born in San Francisco, Dehlinger started playing the piano at age six and singing at seven. His first music mentor was conductor and choirmaster Dr. William Ballard, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Boys Chorus, whom Dehlinger credits for his early success. By age ten, he was part of the Bay Area music scene, performing at the San Francisco Opera with operatic legends that include Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballé and Georgio Tozzi. At twelve, he became a pupil of piano virtuoso Thomas LaRatta with whom he continues piano performance studies.

A featured piano soloist with the United States Army Chorus and frequent guest performer on Washington’s Embassy Row, Dehlinger has also performed for numerous notable public officials, including the President of the United States and the Prince of Wales. Previously a technology entrepreneur, he released his first solo piano recording in 2011, Evocations of Spain, featuring Isaac Albéniz’s Iberia and Suite española, and Enrique Granados’ Goyescas, Danzas españolas, and Seis piezas sobre cantos populares españoles. [ ]

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