Joaquín Rodrigo is certainly known for his often
performed works for guitar and orchestra. Now thanks to Naxos, his rather
sizeable production of orchestral music is being brought to the fore,
and if this disc is representative of Rodrigo’s overall output, we’ve
much cause for rejoicing. Rodrigo, born in Valencia in 1901 was left
blinded by an attack of diphtheria when he was four years old. He received
his first music lessons at the age of five while attending the school
for the blind in his birth city. By the time he had reached his twenties
he had begun to compose, and continued writing well into old age, ceasing
his output in 1982, seventeen years before his death.
The piano concerto recorded here began life in 1942
as the Concierto heroico and was inspired by events of the Spanish
civil war. An intense, passionate work, it requires Herculean skills
on the part of the soloist. From its blazing opening movement to the
lonely desolation of the largo, this is a virtuoso tour de force
requiring not only hands of steel, but also rhetorical commitment and
intelligence from the soloist. Daniel Ligorio Ferrandiz is a completely
capable exponent in this vivid performance. He plays with fire and vigor
in the fast technical passages and his very soul is poured into the
hauntingly beautiful slow movement.
The orchestral works on this program are amongst the
most atmospheric and delicious that I have experienced in some time.
Rodrigo’s orchestrational language is certainly influenced by his countryman
Manuel de Falla, but there is nothing about it that is anything less
than fresh and original. At once truly Spanish and truly international,
Rodrigo’s is a palette of vast color selection. He possessed a skill
with the orchestra that easily rivaled the legendary Maurice Ravel,
and his nationalistic tendencies never pigeonhole his work into a specifically
Of particularly poignant beauty is the splendid Musica
para un jardin. Adapted from earlier compositions originally for
solo piano, these are some of the most delightful works for orchestra
that I have encountered in some years.
The Castille and Léon Symphony Orchestra turns
in a performance that is without findable flaw. String playing is lush
where needs be, and of shimmering transparency when appropriate. The
winds play superbly, and particular notice should go to the oboe and
cor anglais player(s), who literally sing throughout this magnificent
That Rodrigo studied in France is evident from his
orchestrations, but this music is no recycled Debussy. This is a composer
with a unique voice, deserving of a wider appreciation. Bravo Naxos
for yet again mining the fringes and striking gold. Excellent program
and biographical notes enhance a disc whose sound quality is first tier.
Don’t walk, run to the CD shop and add this one to your collection.