During a 1998 interview with Time magazine, Charles Aznavour
noted that the public always prefer to hear the old standards
at his concerts. Each time he steps onto the stage he sings songs
from times before; old songs in the second part and the new ones
in the first part. Irrespective of genre, there may be wisdom
in the principle of integrating the old and known with the new
and less familiar when giving a concert or planning a recording.
Intentionally, or fortuitously the review disc presents an interesting,
well-balanced programme of old and new guitar music from eight
composers born in the period 1778 to 1965.
from merits of the programme, the credentials of the guitarist
are, like his playing, impeccable. Born in 1984 in Malaga, Spain,
Rafael Aguirre Minarro began his studies at the Malaga Conservatory
in 1991. His early tutors include Teresa Garcia de Candido,
Manuel Jesus Perez Vela, Miguel Tojar and Javier Chamizo, always
achieving the highest performance ratings. In 2007 Minarro won
first prize at the prestigious Tarrega International Competition,
Bencasim, Spain. His past achievements include wins in the Pujol,
Arcas, Sor and Guerrero International competitions.
six different countries, the composers whose music is included
on this disc have at least one thing in common: composition
of music for the guitar. Fernando Sor, Francisco Tarrega, Heitor
Villa- Lobos, Jacques Ibert, Francis Poulenc and Einojuhani
Rautavaara are fairly well known to those who listen to classical
guitar music. Less familiar may be Joaquin Clerch and Maurice
in Havana, Joaquin Clerch studied with several teachers including
Leo Brouwer and Costas Cotsiolis and then in Salzburg with Eliot
Fisk, graduating from the Mozarteum with highest honours. Both
a guitarist and a composer, the works of Clerch are increasingly
favoured by recording artists. The second longest piece on this
disc, his Yemaya written in 1987, was awarded first prize
in that year at both the Cuban Composition Competition, and
the Toronto International Guitar Competition. The title Yemaya
derives from Afro-Cuban Yoruba religion and refers to a deity
worshipped as goddess and earth mother.
Ohana was born in 1913 of Gibraltarian parentage in Casablanca,
North Africa. Ohana studied in Paris and in Barcelona with pianist
Frank Marshall. Tientos is a flamenco form and Ohana’s
title Tiento- originally the Spanish musicians’ version
of toccata - may have been inspired by his fascination
with gypsy music.
longest piece of music presented [14:56] is Sor’s Fantaisie,
Op 16. Despite considerable intrinsic worth, it is infrequently
recorded. Variation No. 8 of this piece carries the notation
‘La Main gauche seule’- the left hand only. Used
extensively in flamenco guitar, the ligado technique
is not so common in classical guitar music. In Variation No.
8 some twenty measure s of music [7:38-8:42] excluding repeats,
are executed totally independent of the right hand. The variation
is so well performed by Minarro that those unfamiliar with the
music may miss the subtle deviation, as only tonal property
changes make this interesting technique discernable.
programme of this composition exposes the very core of a player’s
technical and musical capabilities. Rafael Minarro is at home
with the music of Fernando Sor or Joaquin Clerch and his interpretation
of Tarrega’s Carnival of Venice Variations would be hard
to beat. The technical demands of the Villa-Lobos Studies,
Clerch’s Estudio de escalas and Sor’s Op.16 are
just examples of music that reveal Minarro’s prodigious technical
guitar used on this occasion was made by Australian luthier,
Zbigniew Gnatek. Guitars of this design generally sacrifice
a degree of sonority for greater volume, however this instrument
fares better than most. Gnatek, a very capable maker, is also
an accomplished guitarist; he studied the classical guitar in
Europe and at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music from which
he hold a Bachelor of Music degree.
those listening to this disc via Windows Media Player,
access to the music is not facilitated by the absence of track-listings,
and titles that appear in what I assume is Chinese?
guitarists it is always valuable to know which editions of the
music are employed on a particular recording. Naxos should
be complimented for including this information with the review
well-balanced programme, strong technique and musicianship augur
well for a rewarding musical experience, and that’s just what
this disc provides.