Manuel Maria PONCE
Variations on "Folia de España" and Fugue
Theme, Variations and Finale
Variations on a Theme of Paganini
Variations on a Theme of Cabezón
Stephen Marchionda (guitar)
ASV CD QS 6249
£5.45 AmazonUK AmazonUS
Manuel Maria Ponce (1882-1948) was probably Andrés Segovia's favourite
composer and indeed he did enrich the guitar's repertoire in Segovia's quest
for new composers of the day to write for the instrument. On this CD of guitar
music by Ponce there is plenty to satisfy the listener. Guitarist Stephen
Marchionda has just the right approach to convey the nuances of Ponce's personal
Of the works included, it is the "Variations on Folia de España and
Fugue" that dominates the disc. Regarded as a monumental work for guitar
it taxes the performer's skills of interpretation and technical prowess and
certainly Marchionda gives a fine account of the piece.
Originally only twelve of the "Preludes" were selected for publication, but
presented here is the full set of twenty-four, covering all the major and
minor keys. Though some of the "Preludes" are only seconds in duration, overall
they do give us Ponce's intended view of the cycle.
Ponce was known for writing pastiche works imitating composers that
he admired, Scarlatti and Schubert being two of note. It appears that he
took great delight in writing his "Variations on a theme of Paganini" based
on that composers "Grand Sonata" written for violin and guitar, but generally
today performed as a guitar solo. Ponce's variations cover a range of moods
and emotions from joy, melancholy, humour and playfulness transmitted through
Marchionda's playing. I am surprised that this work is not in more guitarists'
Of the remaining works the "Theme. Variations and Finale" must be one of
Ponce's more frequently performed pieces but the "Variations on a Theme of
Cabezón" is something of a rarity in the catalogue. Antonio de
Cabezón (1510- 1566), a renowned organist and composer, had many admirers
and Ponce's homage is not the only work of even relatively recent
times to have used his music as a source of inspiration.
ASV's recording engineers have adopted a very natural acoustic for the guitar
on this recording which suits the music well.
Though Naxos are in the throws of a Ponce 'Complete Works', I do feel that
the couplings could be a deciding factor for many buyers. Whatever, this
is a fine disc and should not be discounted.