One might expect that a guitar recital made up of a
selection so diverse in its national musical provenance would be an
unusual, if not a strange combination. However it works remarkably well.
For the most part (Tárraga being the exception)
all the composers included here are products of the 20th
century. Nevertheless they all have very individual musical views and
ideas. Probably the most prominent figure here is the British composer
Malcolm Arnold whose compositions for the guitar include a frequently
recorded Concerto and a Serenade for guitar and strings. Although aware
of the existence of his "Fantasy", this is the first time
that I have heard the work. Made up of five very contrasting movements
and incorporating some unusual guitar techniques, one being a rarely
used imitation of a snare drum, the work holds the attention throughout.
I am surprised that it is not more popular with performing guitarists.
The Sonata by Richard Rodney Bennett is yet another
rarity on disc. His guitar writing is mainly known through the recordings
of his "Guitar Concerto" and the "Five Impromptus"
made by their dedicatee Julian Bream. The Sonata uses the twelve-tone
system but is still very approachable and rewarding for those not initiated
into this form of musical language.
Of the Spanish contingents on this disc the work of
Anton Garcia Abril is held in high regard. More of a traditionalist,
he gleans his musical ideas from neo-classicism and romanticism, thus
his compositions are never too taxing for the listener and always enjoyable.
Whilst listening to this disc I found myself so engrossed
in the music that I was unaware of the guitarist Dejan Ivanovic. This
is a compliment to his playing as at no time did the technical difficulties
get in the way of the music. The interpretation and use of tone colour
seems totally appropriate and the general oneness with the music assured.
Overall this is a fine, well-played collection of mostly
rarely recorded music for guitar and while it will appeal to the guitar
enthusiast it is still a worthwhile buy for those interested in the
lesser known works of the British composers Malcolm Arnold and Richard