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The Segovia Collection
Disc 1.
Joaquin RODRIGO (1901-1999)

Fantasia para un Gentilhombre, for guitar and orchestra
Manuel PONCE (1882-1948)

Concierto del Sur, for guitar and orchestra
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)

Cello Concerto No. 6 in D major, G 479 (transcribed for guitar)
Symphony of the Air/Enrique Jordá
Disc 2.
Federico MORENO TORROBA (1891-1982)

Castles of Spain
Piezas Características

Federico MOMPOU (1893-1987)

Suite Compostelana for guitar
Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968)

Sonata for guitar, Op. 77 "Omaggio a Boccherini"
Manuel PONCE (1882-1948)

Mexicana, from Sonata No.1 for guitar
Oscar ESPLÁ (1886-1976)

Antaño, from Impresiones Musicales
Joaquin RODRIGO (1901-1999)

Fandango, from Tres Piezas Españolas
Disc 3.
Santiago de MURCIA

Prelude and Allegro

Ludovico RONCALLI

Passacaglia
Gigue
Gavotte

Luys de MILAN

Pavans Nos. 1-6
Gaspar SANZ

Galliarda y Villiano
Espanoletas

Dionysio AGUADO

Eight Lessons for guitar
Fernando SOR (1778-1839)

Minuet in C minor
Minuet in C major
Etudes Nos.1, 2, 6, 10, 11, 15, 17, 19, 20*
*Refers to Segovia’s numberings
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)

Granada, from Suite Española
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1918)

Spanish Dance No. 5, from 12 Spanish Dances
Spanish Dance No. 10, from 12 Spanish Dances
La Maja de Goya, from Tonadillas al Estilo Antiguo
Disc 4.
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Allemande, from BWV 996
Sarabande, from BWV 997
Gigue, from BWV 997
Sarabande, from BWV 1002
Bourrée, from BWV 1002
Double, from BWV1002
Suite for Cello BWV 1009, (complete)
Prelude, from BWV 1007
Gavottes 1 and 2, from BWV 1012
Chaconne, from BWV 1004
Prelude BWV 999
Gavotte en Rondeau, from BWV 1006
Fugue BWV 1000
Siciliano, from BWV 1001
Bourrée, from BWV 996
Andrés Segovia (guitar)
Boxed Set - Original Recordings Remastered
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 430-2 [4CDs: 69:02+73:17+75:06+77:25]

Without doubt Andrés Segovia was the most influential classical guitarist of the 20th century. It was he who laid the foundations of guitar technique and choice of repertoire. He it was who commissioned new works for the instrument from his contemporaries in the field of composition. This would eventually be developed by the following generations of great players such as John Williams and Julian Bream. The work of Segovia is now continued by the highly gifted young bloods that emerge with such frequency today.

His prolific legacy of recordings spanned fifty years, from 1927 to about 1977. This collection takes a selection between 1952 and 1969. During this period he was arguably at the height of his career. These tapes, first released by MCA, have been acquired by Deutsche Grammophon and digitally re-mastered. The results, I must say, exhibit a broader sonic range that refreshes the listening experience; a most beneficial investment of time and expertise.

Inevitably there are deviations in the acoustic ambience between certain works recorded in different studios and at different times. A solo instrument is very unforgiving in this respect. Whereas Bach’s "Chaconne" (disc 4) has a somewhat dry acoustic the Sonata "Omaggio a Boccherini" by Castelnuovo-Tedesco (disc 2) possesses a large reverb. Presumably this effect was applied, or was inherent, during the recording sessions themselves and remastering cannot change it. This is a minor point as the overall sound is fairly consistent and agreeable given that some of these recordings are fifty years old.

First and foremost Segovia was thought of as a supreme solo performer. His recordings in the role of soloist with orchestra are small. Disc 1 highlights this area of his playing in two concertos originally written for the guitar and a transcription of the Cello Concerto No. 6 by Luigi Boccherini. At times Segovia was criticised for taking liberties with time, however, here he demonstrates his ability to integrate with orchestra and conductor. In this he evinces a skill comparable with the elite virtuosos of any instrument. Even if the guitar is a little too far forward in the mix compared to more modern recordings, these recordings show off Segovia’s exquisitely burnished tone to good effect.

Early in his career Segovia set about refurnishing the guitar’s catalogue of music. This he did by requesting new works for the instrument from contemporary composers. In the main this is the theme of the second disc in this set. The Spanish composer Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982) was the first to respond. Segovia was thereafter ever grateful and gave Torroba’s works a certain priority; recording a good many of his subsequent compositions. Two sets of pieces of Torroba’s pieces are included here "Pièces Caracteristiques" and "Castillos de España"; the latter being musical pictures of some of the numerous castles of the Spanish peninsular. Both sets show the composer’s eloquent style and empathy with the guitar. Another favourite of Segovia’s was the Italian composer Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968) whose music found favour in the maestro’s guitar. His "Omaggio a Boccherini" must rank as one of the finest 20th century works for the instrument. It has been recorded by various players. The Segovia reading gets to the heart of the music like no other.

For all his endeavours to encourage the writing of new works Segovia still looked back at his Spanish heritage. Disc 3 comprises music ranging from the vihuelista Luys de Milan (c.1500-c.1561) to the baroque guitar of Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710) to the classicism of Fernando Sor (1778-1839) and of Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849). These last two were the most important guitar composer/performers of their age. Segovia must have felt a great affinity with their music. All these pieces are played in Segovia’s inimitable way with his beautiful tone and vibrato put to good use.

Guitarist Miguel Llobet (1878-1938), a friend of Segovia’s during the latter’s formative years, was instrumental in the transcription of the Romantic Nationalistic piano pieces of Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909) and Enrique Granados (1867-1916). Many of these were brought to the ears of the general public and made popular by Segovia’s recordings through the years. More recently many other guitarists including both John Williams and Julian Bream have devoted entire CDs to these most evocative of pieces. So it is with Granados’s Tonadilla "La Maja de Goya" with its scintillating pizzicato bass line introduction. This is probably one of Segovia’s finest interpretations on record. It brings the third of these discs to a close.

Disc 4 is devoted entirely to Johann Sebastian Bach. From this period all but one of the titles recorded by Segovia is here(*). By my reckoning the missing piece is the "Sarabande" from the lute suite BWV 996. I can only assume that lack of available space on the disc is the reason for the omission; in any event, a pity. Segovia’s interpretations of Bach have, to some extent, been the subject of controversy among baroque purists. The pundits might well have a case to argue. Nevertheless there is no doubt that through these recordings a musical door was opened for guitarists who may not otherwise have considered the great composer a source of material. Segovia’s way was to select what he thought to be appropriate movements from Bach’s suites, sonatas and partitas for solo string instruments the cello, violin and lute(#), and present them as separate items. The third "Cello Suite" as transcribed by John Duarte is the only Suite performed in its entirety. The practice of playing complete Sonatas etc., would become the norm for the following generations of guitarists.

Included in the collection is a booklet containing the complete track listing together with photographs of Segovia taken at various times during his career. The inlay notes are by Graham Wade, whose study of the maestro’s life and work is as unrelenting as it is fastidious. For this project a more qualified authority on the subject I cannot imagine. An added bonus is John Lehmann-Haupt conversations with Israel Horowitz, Segovia’s producer from 1957. His insights into the guitarist’s views and method of committing music to disc through the recording process are most interesting.

On the down side I am not so won over with the presentation used here. At first sight it looks very attractive but I have never been keen on the slim-line jewel cases. They don’t seem to open that easily and the surface of the disc is flush with the card inlay so that fingernails must be used to extract the disc. Full size cases are more user friendly. The cases themselves, numbered 1 to 4, have no individual track listing so one has to refer to the main booklet every time, which itself is not so robust. Frequent use will soon see the spine shedding pages.

For many of Segovia’s devotees the material here will be familiar. However it is the re-mastering which gives a more faithful vista into his art and this, together with the choice of works, makes this set highly recommended.

Andy Daly

* Segovia’s other period of Bach recordings can be heard on ‘The Art of Andrès Segovia’: The HMV recordings 1927-1939, EMI CHS 761047. There are also seven pieces from Bach’s "The Anna Magdalena Notebook" on The Intimate Guitar 2 RCA Red Seal ARL1 1323 (vinyl).

# What are today recognised as the Lute Suites may have been intended for a keyboard instrument known as a lute-harpsichord.



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