name of Francisco Tárrega y Eixea, more commonly just Francisco
Tárrega, engenders great reverence in the world of the classical
guitar. He championed the instrument, composed music for it
when the guitar was in a period of decline (late Romanticism)
and well deserved the epithet ‘modern awakener of the guitar’.
was born in Villareal, Castellón de
la Plana on 21 November 1852.
In the booklet accompanying this new release it will be noted
that, in several places, 1825 is incorrectly
referenced as the year of his birth.
initial piano studies Tárrega then devoted his entire attention
to the guitar, developing a new technical approach, and composing
works to facilitate the implementation of those innovations.
A footstool for the left foot and the forearm/wrist angle of
the right hand typified by Andrès Segovia, are integral components
of his technique.
was a master of the miniature. The majority of his original
works do not exceed three minutes in length. His Preludes best
exemplify this, reflecting his introspective streak. They are
melodically and harmonically intense.
creative genius contributing to the advancement of the classical
guitar was a contemporary, luthier Antonio de Torres (1817-1892).
Tárrega acquired an instrument by Torres, one of several that
ultimately entered his possession. In comparison with traditional
instruments of the day, those by Torres facilitated left-hand
fingering, particularly multiple stoppings, and produced louder
and superior sound. The new sonorities and tonal colours that
characterised Torres’ guitars, were exploited by Tárrega with
creative and consummate excellence.
works have recently attracted increasing attention by recording
1991 guitarist David Russell (b. Scotland, 1953) released a 2CD set of his works, Integral de Guitarra
(Opera Tres CDS 1003/4). Trancisco Tárrega - Works for the
Guitar featuring guitarist Fernando Espi (b. Spain, 1975) was released in 2003 by Verso (VRS 2007) and has been reviewed
in this forum.
present set purports to contain the complete (original) works
of Tárrega. What represents the entire corpus of his original
compositions appears to be the subject of academic debate. Interestingly
David Russell’s offering contains 62 different original works
and that of Tampalini only 58.
Tárrega may have only approved of publishing compositions that
were original, some students exercised less discretion. Material
copied and adapted from other sources for didactic purposes
appeared in circulation attributed to him and was irresponsibly
printed in some editions. It may be into this latter category
that the rather lovely Estudio de Campanelas (su un tema
della “Folia” di M.de Fossa) from the Fernando Espi
recording (17) falls, since it appears in neither the Russell
nor Tampalini programme. Tárrega’s Tango in B flat that appears
both on the Russell discs (D2/4) the Espi offering (11) has
been omitted from the review discs. With regard to total works
including arrangements, transcriptions etc. in an extensive
publication on Tárrega, disciple Emilio Pujol listed 217.
was not methodical in identifying his compositions and used
no systematic opus numbering. Sometimes the border between studies
and preludes is hazy and on occasions the two became synonymous.
The Prelude was a genre in which Tárrega excelled. Although
only nine were published during his lifetime, in a recent printed
publication of his complete works (Soneto Ediciones Musicale-
Madrid), a total of 35 appear. In another
Italian edition, Edizioni Berben (1971) a total of 39 are listed.
The liner-notes attached to the review discs suggest that ‘based
on critical use of the Spanish edition, 24 Preludes were chosen
for inclusion in the current programme’. David Russell’s offering
contains the same number (24) of Preludes.
Tampalini was born in Brescia,
Italy in 1971. His early tutelage includes
Gianluigi Fia, Marco De Santi, and Angelo Gilardino who also
wrote the informative notes that accompany the review discs.
age 20 Tampalini earned his diploma cum lauda from the conservatory
‘G.F. Ghedini’ in Cuneo. He subsequently attended master-classes
with Tilman Hoppstock, Dusan Bogdanovic and Eliot Fisk.
has also achieved impressive wins in several major International
Guitar Competitions including the prestigious Andrès Segovia
International Guitar Competition in Granada.
listening to the review programme, especially disc one, initiates
a recurring impression that is challenging to articulate. One
explanation may be that Tampalini plays this Spanish music in
an Italian guitar-school style - if indeed such a thing exists.
The magnificent José Luis González (1932-1998) personified the
Spanish style of playing; David Russell appears to emulate this.
Russell’s success in getting to the interpretive core of Tárrega’s
music is reflected in his 1977 first prize win in the Benicasim
competition where he also received the special Francisco Tárrega
prize, awarded for the best performance of Tárrega’s works.
Julian Bream playing the same music reveals yet another quite
different approach; as usual Bream excels.
alternative explanation may be that in a number of the pieces,
especially on disc one, Tampalini places technical virtuosity
above musical interpretation. Relevant examples include the
A major section of Marieta (5), Rosita (7) and Estudio sobre
un estudio de J.B.Cramer (21). Excluding this writer, some will
view Tampalini’s approach as representing innovativeness and
modernity, preferring it to alternative interpretations such
as those already cited. To others it may sound musically flippant.
with such pigeonholing, Mr. Tampolini proceeds to produce a
quite outstanding Recuerdos de la Alhambra (15) that
would be hard to beat under any circumstances.
the second disc, Tampalini plays and interprets the 24 Preludes
well. Oremus (17) was the very last piece that Tárrega wrote
before he died - some sources indicate the last piece
published before he died and both may be correct. To
date no-one has managed to interpret and execute this miniature
masterpiece quite like Anabel Montesinos (Naxos 8.557294), who won the 2002 International Francisco Tárrega Prize,
general sonic qualities of this recording are not particularly
ingratiating. There are guitarists who patriotically play instruments
constructed by fellow countrymen. It may be that Tampalini is
a case in point using a guitar by Luciano Lovadina (1987) that
irrespective does not compare with the unnamed instrument played
by David Russell on his Opera Tres recording. Excelling both
is the sound produced by Marco Tamayo who plays an instrument
by Simon Marty on his remarkable new recording of Paganini’s
guitar music (Naxos 8.557598).
isolation this new offering of Tárrega’s music capably addresses
the key components that have made him a most celebrated composer
of guitar music, especially of miniatures. For those who may
be unfamiliar with the works of Tárrega, investment in this
recording will ensure musical pleasure and fulfilling discovery.
the equivalent offering by David Russell still represents the
gold standard for overall excellence. Regrettably, like many
other outstanding discs, it may be hard to find or have been
deleted from the retail catalogue.