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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Joaquin RODRIGO (1901 - 1999)
Concierto de Aranjuez (1939)a
Concierto Pastorale (1978)b
Fantasia para un gentilhombre (1954)a
Carlos Bonell (guitar)a; Jennifer Stinton (flute)b; English Chamber Orchestra; Steuart Bedford
Recorded: Abbey Road, London, 1989
REGIS RRC 1090 [68:32]
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It would be absurdly foolish to say that the late Rodrigo was an advanced or highly original composer; but, remarkably enough, his crisp, lively, colourfully scored and piquantly harmonised music is immediately recognisable. He managed to create his own sound world, be it in his original compositions or in his pieces inspired by other composers' music such as in Soleriana or the present Fantasia para un gentilhombre based on music by Gaspar Sanz.

The celebrated and ubiquitous Concierto de Aranjuez and the Fantasia para un gentilhombre are sufficiently well-known to avoid any call for high-flown comments. For many years during the LP era, they were "obligatory partners" and were often recorded as such. Incidentally, Concierto de Aranjuez is Rodrigo's first guitar concerto. Over the years, he wrote another such concerto as well as concertos for two and four guitars; but I believe that it is his finest concerto.

The more recent Concierto Pastorale was written in 1978 for James Galway who gave the first performance and who recorded it soon afterwards. Though still recognisably by Rodrigo, this colourful, though rather light-weight piece shows the limits of Rodrigo's music. There is pretty little here in terms of catchy tunes, and the bulk of the music is full of mannerisms (they would have been called 'hallmarks', had the level of inspiration been higher!), but this is nevertheless a technically quite demanding piece. Jennifer Stinton copes remarkably well with the often tricky flute writing. This nevertheless is a quite entertaining, though lighter, work in its own right.

All performances are quite good (I found Jennifer Stinton particularly brilliant) with assured support on the ECO's part.

So, if you do not have any of these pieces (though I doubt it!) or if this coupling appeals to you, you need not hesitate for you will find much to relish in this attractive release.

Hubert Culot



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