This is a delightful disk of unpretentious,
enjoyable and well played music without problems intellectually.
It will stand repeated hearings. What’s more there’s less
well known composers mixed in with big names such as Gershwin
Mangoré was one of the first guitarists to make gramophone records in 1909
and 1910, but not the first as John Williams claims. He
was a superb guitarist and his understanding of the instrument
can be heard in the two miniatures which are charming and
relaxed pieces. Born in Paraguay Barrios is regarded by
many as one of the greatest musicians
of all time. It’s easy to see why with such lovely pieces
Falú is Argentinean,
and a guitarist whose style is colourful and unassuming.
His works are very similar in approach and have a relaxed
feel to them. Leo Brouwer is well enough known these days
as a composer for the guitar – indeed, Naxos is recording
his complete solo works for the instrument. His two movement
Rito de los Orishás is a serious work, full of atmosphere and rhythm, with more complex
music in the second of the pieces.
Despite writing a vast amount
of music - there are 12 Symphonies and 17 string quartets
amongst many other things – Villa-Lobos is best remembered
today for his music for guitar. It is justly regarded as
some of the most important music for the instrument from
the earlier part of the 20th century. These two
pieces, from his 12 Etudes, are quite lovely – passionate
and without overt display. They make me wish we’d had more
of them on this disk – but what would you have had to discard
to make room for them? I hope that Fernández might be persuaded to record them all in the future.
Montana is another guitarist,
Colombian-born. His Columbian Suite consists of four
delightful yet modest movements which are pleasing but lack
the charm of some of the other works presented here. But
don’t let that worry you for it is most enjoyable. The Tunisian
Dyens studied guitar with the Spanish master Alberto Ponce.
Saudade No.3 is an impressive work and he packs a
lot into a short time-span. In several sections, Dyens mixes
the serious with the lighter and creates a fascinating composition
full of interest and incident. This is a real highlight.
I’ve left the arrangements for last; they are all skillfully done and
expertly performed. Eleanor Rigby starts with an
elegiac, and truly heart-breaking, introduction until the
song itself is given in a fast tempo. Blackbird is
a simpler arrangement. Fascinatin’ Rhythm has a beautifully
atmospheric introduction and then there’s a great race at
the tune! So much of Ginastera’s music fits so easily onto
the guitar that it’s sometimes hard to realise that a lot
of it isn’t original guitar music! Zamba and Gato
are the third and fifth pieces from his Cinco
canciones populares argentinas for
voice and piano.
An interesting and entertaining disk well worth exploring.