There is currently a surprising shortage of Spanish song records, whether on CD or LP, and it was an excellent idea to devise this nicely balanced programme to fill an obvious gap. The collection of Falla songs is set neatly against comparable groups of folk-based songs or direct folk-song settings by Granados and Nin, seven each unless you count the three ''Maja dolorosa'' songs of Granados separately. Best known to a wide public for her brief but striking appearance in the recent Francesco Rosi film of Bizet's Carmen (soundtrack available on Erato) in the role of Mercedes, Susan Daniel certainly seems to have the right idiom in her blood, and the earthy way she tackles the last of the Falla songs, ''Polo'', demonstrates her ability to project character. Her expression then dissolves a moment later in the first of the Granados songs, the comic ''El majo timido'', into an open smile, conveying charm.
Her accompanist too adds to the sharp rhythmic point of the performances, but the pity is that Daniel's mezzo does not take easily to recording, for the vibrato regularly becomes intrusive, often exaggerated into a judder. Sensuous beauty is certainly not the first quality required in any of these songs, but on LP go to Victoria de los Angeles or just as pointfully to Jill Gomez in her totally charming collection of Spanish songs for Saga (including the complete Falla set and six of the Granados—SAGA5409, 2/76), and the expression is far more varied, not just more beautiful. Susan Daniel Certainly does have her moments or charm, and plainly as an experienced opera singer dramatic songs suit her better than lyrical ones, but the comparisons are hardly in her favour, lacking the lightness and sparkle of the others.
None the less well recorded on CD—a great convenience having 23 bands—the disc will give much pleasure, when five of the seven Nin songs will come as a discovery to many.'