Works, Vol. II) Concierto
de Aranjuez. Fantasía para un gentilhombre. Concerto Andaluz
for Four Guitars and Orchestra.
RODRIGO: (Orchestral Works, Vol. III)
Concerto in modo galante for cello and orchestra.
Concierto de estío for violin and orchestra. Concierto
como un divertimento for cello and orchestra. CanÁoneta for
violin and string orchestra.
Works, Vol. IV)
Concierto para piano y orquesta (rev. Achúcarro). Preludio
para un poema a la Alhambra. Música para un jardín. Homenage
a la temprancia. Juglares.
Volume II is devoted to the guitar offering the composer's three most famous works for the instrument. The first, Concierto de Aranjuez, was the first "modern" work for solo guitar and orchestra as well as the first Spanish composition to achieve international success after the Civil War. Rodrigo started work on it in 1939 and the premiere took place the following year in Barcelona. For whatever reason, AndrÈs Segovia didn't like this concerto so the composer wrote the gentler Fantasía para un gentilhombre for him, a four-movement work based on works of Gaspar Sanz, the most important Spanish composer of the Baroque period. Segovia gave the premiere in San Francisco in 1958 with Enrique Jordá and the San Francisco Symphony. This CD ends with another favorite, Concierto andaluz composed in 1967 for Los Romeros guitar quartet, who premiered it in 1967 with the San Antonio Symphony conducted by Victor Alessandro, recorded it at that time for Mercury, and again in 1978 for Philips with Sir Neville Marriner conducting.
Volume 4 features the brilliant piano concerto written in 1942, a highly energetic work in the revision by Joaquin Achúcarro, spectacularly played by Ferrandiz. There are four movements to this 30-minute plus concerto. The third movement, a rather lengthy (10:55) Largo, doubtless would be equally effective if arranged for guitar and orchestra. The evocative Prelude para un poema a la Alhambra is described in the CD booklet as, "at twilight a guitar sighs, and beyond....ring out the rhythms which drive the dance"). This highly evocative score ends magically with delicate high percussion shimmers. Musica para un jardin is an orchestration of two Berceuses para piano, rather like The Seasons in Spain, with a prelude and postlude, with a playing time of but 11:11. JosÈ Iturbi conducted the orchestral version premiere in Valencia in 1958. Homenage a la temprancia (Homage to the precocious girl), is a short (5:34) tribute to GimÈnez's zarzuela La temprancia. Jugulares, a brief (5:26) "symphonic essay," was composed in 1923, the composer's first orchestral work written in Valencia before he went to Paris for study. Two highly rhythmic movements are separated by a melancholy Largo.
The third volume contains concertos for string instruments beginning with Concerto in modo galante written in 1946, inspired by 18th Century Spain and music of Boccherini. It was composed for Gaspar Cassadó who gave the first performance in 1949 with the Spanish National Orchestra directed by Ataulfo Argenta. Concierto de estio predates the cello concerto by three years and is strongly influenced by works of Vivaldi. Concierto como un divertimento came much later - 1981with unique effects from the soloist (strumming the instrument to produce the sound of a guitar), unusual orchestration including celesta and xylophone, and is of incredible difficulty for the soloist. Julian Lloyd Webber was soloist in the April 15, 1982 premiere with the London Philharmonic under Jesús López Cobos. The CD ends with a gem, Jugulares, a haunting work composed in 1923, scored for violin and strings
Performance standards are uniformly high on all of these recordings. Both conductors and orchestras and all of the sterling soloists obviously cherish this music. Sonic quality is consistently high even though two different recording venues were used, with different producers and engineers. There's plenty of zing to guitar sound, rich resonance to strings, a wide dynamic range and just the right amount of hall sound. Highly recommended!
R.E.B. (February 2003)