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Francisco TÁRREGA (1852-1909)
Original Compositions:

Jota [9:46]
Tango Maria [2:59]
Gran Vals (1902) [3:03]
Sueño [4:47]
Capricho Arabe [4:10]
Lágrima [1:39]
Studio sobre la Sonatina d’Alard [2:06]
Adelita [1:33]
Las dos hermanitas (valse) [2:19]
Vals [2:06]
Maria [1:36]
Alborado [1:44]
Recuerdos de la Alhambra (1896) [4:37]
Mazurka en sol [2:25]
Transcriptions by Tárrega:
Joaquin MALATS (1872-1912)
Serenata española [3:40]
Sebastion de YRADIER (1809-1865)
La palma [3:42]
Issac Albéniz (1860-1909)
Se villa [4:44]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Notti di Spagna [2:31]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
/Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Ave Maria [1:56]
Michael Erni (guitar)
rec. 2008, Umo, CH-4654 Lostorf
GUILD GMCD7332 [61:33] 


Experience Classicsonline

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.

Jonathan Woolf




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