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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Complete Works for Orchestra - Volume 4
Concierto para piano y orquestra (Revised by Achúcarro) (1942/1996) [30:29]
Preludio para un poema a la Alhambra (1928) [7:36]
Música para un jardin (1935) [11:11]
Homenaje a la temranica (1939) [5:34]
Juglares (1923) [5:26]
Daniel Ligoria Ferrandiz, piano
Castile and León Symphony Orchestra/Max Bragado Darman
Recordings made in July and November 2001 DDD
NAXOS 8.557101 [60:17]



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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 "Spanish" idiom.

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 performance.

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.

Kevin Sutton



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