Gerard Hoffnung CDs
Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) [23:46]
Sones en la Giralda [9:38]
Concierto para una fiesta (1983) [30:09]
Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia/Victor Pablo Perez
rec. 18-20 July 2007, Palacio de la Opera, A Coruna. DDD
DECCA 4780076 [63:33]
all the music that Joaquin Rodrigo wrote, nothing ever reached
the same lofty heights as his Concierto de Aranjuez for
guitar and orchestra. Written in 1939 its inaugural performance,
by dedicatee Regino Sainz de la Maza, was held on 6 November
of the following year in Barcelona.
remains the best known and most revered of all guitar concertos.
This concerto has been recorded countless times but the magnificent
adagio movement has attracted most attention. It has crossed
genres to jazz, and was played by a brass band in the 1996
movie, Brassed Off. Used in other numerous formats,
including TV ads with Ricardo Montalban, it was also employed
by Rod McKuen to accompany a poem, the text of which was
inspired by the same music.
adagio movement is about the same length as the other two
combined and contains the most hauntingly beautiful melody
and recurring motif. For those of appropriate disposition,
it may be described as ‘heavenly music’.
with the composing of this music Rodrigo’s wife was expecting
their first child but she had a miscarriage. According to
guitarist Pepe Romero, the entire second movement was Rodrigo’s
musical expression of his emotions- in conversation with
Deity. The melody is first rendered by the cor anglais,
then the guitar and recurs with different instruments using
the same motif. All the intense emotions and feelings of
the composer are expressed. The movement ends with the ascension
of the infant.
the review disc the Concierto de Aranjuez is coupled
with Concierto para una fiesta and Sones
en la Giralda. ‘Sones’, a less known work, stands
chronologically halfway between the two concertos. Originally
written for harp and small orchestra, it was inspired by
the city of Seville, and its emblematic cathedral bell-tower,
the Giralda. Interestingly the ‘Aranjuez’ has been
arranged and recorded for harp and orchestra. Commissioned
by a multi-millionaire American couple for their daughter’s
debutante party, Concierto para una fiesta was first
performed in March 1983 with Pepe Romero as soloist.
a nation, few outside the Spanish-speaking world have embraced
the classical guitar with such alacrity as the Japanese.
Kaori Muraji exemplifies that dedication towards the guitar.
Born in Tokyo in 1978 she commenced lessons at age three
with her father Noboru Muraji and subsequently studied with
Shinichi Fukada and Alberto Ponce.
achievement in major guitar competitions is impressive: she
was the youngest guitarist to win the Leo Brouwer International
Guitar Concours and the Tokyo International Guitar Concours
in 1992. In 1993 she gave her first recital at Tsuda Hall
in Tokyo, soon followed by her debut CD, Expressivo.
The review disc is her second recording of the Concierto
de Arnajuze; the first was made in March 2000.
the numerous alternative recordings of these two concertos,
any new addition must be an exceptional offering to stand
out. Certainly the prodigious powers of Kaori Muraji imbues
one with optimism.
this occasion the guitar playing is masterful, and even the
most technically challenging passages are executed with seemingly
consummate ease. The orchestra part is well recorded and
the emotional intensity of the ‘Aranjuez’ adagio movement
ending, memorable. For all its virtues there is one aspect
that is distracting: in some of the recording, particularly
the Aranjuez, the guitar sounds as though it was recorded
in a tunnel. This muffled sound may be a result of inappropriate
microphone placement or tonal characteristic of the particular
instrument used. It is the excellent sound of the orchestra
that further highlights this deficiency. The better the sound
reproducing equipment, the more obvious it will become.
is interesting to note that although comprehensive acknowledgements
are included, even of the hair and make-up artist, no mention
is made of the luthier who constructed the guitar used in
the recording. Comparatively loud, some modern lattice-braced
guitars have a rather nasal, almost ‘honking’ sound in the
trebles. Should the guitar used here be of that design it
may, in part, explain the sound on this particular recording.
is beautiful music, impeccably played by a master guitarist.
Her orchestral support is most complementary and well recorded.
Had the recording of the soloist been of comparable sonic
quality, this particular release would qualify as a favoured
recording. Given a little time to adjust to this deficiency,
its virtues will ensure more replays than the average recording
of these works.
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