This is an enjoyable selection of works by Tárrega which presents
a rump of original compositions leavened by some of his evocative
transcriptions. The composer was, of course, one of the greatest
writers for the guitar and his promotion of new instruments also
expanded the potential in playing and composition, circumstances
that led to greater feats of volume and virtuosity.
The most extensive
piece is the first, Jota, which despite appearing somewhat
too sectional is actually sewn together with delicious cunning
to just about withstand its approximately ten minute length.
Naturally this will remind us of de Falla – but perhaps, more
justly, de Falla should remind us of Tárrega rather more than
he does. In the thrum and strum and in its colour evocations
it’s powerful and, although atypical (because so extensive),
it prefaces the programme assuredly. There’s a certain hauteur
in the rhythmic snap of Tango Maria but this is contrasted
with the delightful Lágrima, one of his most artlessly
poetic inscriptions. So too in its way is the warming romance
of Adelita, who sounds irresistible. The programming
also allows us to confront two charmingly contrasted Waltzes
- Las dos hermanitas and the single-mindedly named
Vals. Those in search of colour and texture should
investigate Alborado with its perky drama and inner
voicings, subtle and shaded as a Moorish courtyard.
And then there
are the transcriptions, of which the composer was a prodigious
exponent. There are hundreds of such things, and they are
hugely engaging. It’s true that these are old favourites but
not necessarily always to be heard in Tárrega transcriptions.
It’s good to hear the Malats especially and also Yradier’e
evergreen La Paloma but all five are well worth exploring.
In all this the
guide is guitarist Michael Erni. I like much of his playing
but in the final degree his rubati are sometimes too tense
and his ability to colour with truly evocative gradients of
tone is not quite there. Capricho Arabe is too brisk
and businesslike, with a workmanlike approach to rubati and
colour. In theory his rather linear approach to Recuerdos
de la Alhambra is not at all objectionable – Julian Bream
is actually even faster – but it fails in the detail, as a
listen to any of Segovia’s recordings will attest. And I really
don’t like his way with the Mazurka en sol. After Bream’s
ineffable mellifluousness and lilting rhythm Erni sounds harried
and technically strained. This is a pity because it, to some
degree, limits one’s appreciation of the recital. So too
the slightly dry recording with the soloist quite far back
in the soundstage; squeaking ‘gym shoes’ in the shifts are
audible throughout but the same is true of most guitarists,
even the very greatest.
Even with his
Kuno Schaub guitar, then, this gets a somewhat guarded welcome.