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Anabel Montesinos – Guitar Recital
Dionysio AGUADO (1784-1849)

Introduction and Rondo Op.2 No.3 [9.53]
Napoléon COSTE (1805-1883)

Les Soirées d’Auteuil Op.23; Sérénade [3.22]; Scherzo [4.29]
Julián ARCAS (1832-1882)

Andante [5.48]
Johann Kaspar MERTZ (1806-1856)

Hungarian Fantasy [6.55]
Giulio REGONDI (1822-1872)

Introduction and Caprice Op.23 [9.59]
Francisco TÁRREGA (1852-1909)

Capricho Arabe [5.26]; Endecha (Prelude IX) – Oremus (Prelude X) [2.07]; Preludio II [2.13]
Miguel LLOBET (1878-1938)

Scherzo-Vals [3.48]; Variations on a theme of Sor [7.56]
Anabel Montesinos (guitar)
rec 27-31 March 2003, St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
NAXOS 8.557294 [62.15]

 

The Guitarist Anabel Montesinos is, amazingly, not yet 20. She was born in Spain in 1984 and has been raised in the best traditions of Spanish guitar virtuosi, training at the Conservatorio Superior de Música in Tarragona and currently (2003) being still a student in the class of Ignacio Rodes at the Conservatorio Superior de Música in Alicante. This Naxos release is part of the offerings for her winning the first prize in the famous International Francisco Tárrega Guitar Competition in 2002. Allied to this achievement she took the audience prize and the special prize for performance of works by Tárrega at the same competition. She has also taken first prize at the Castellón Francisco Tárrega competition 1999, The Krynica International Competition in Poland 2000, The Sevilla America Martinez National Contest, The Almeria Julian Arcas International Contest, The International Guitar Festival in Moyen, France (all in 2000) and The Jaén International Competition el Condado and The Lérida Instrumental Competition Sant Anastasi in 2001. Normally this writer does not put much store by music competitions, as they have a propensity for not comparing apples with apples. However, the list mentioned above is worth repeating in full for, like the proving of a scientific experiment by frequent repeats to give authority to the conclusions, this number of first prizes (the occasional second or third prize she has also won were not even included) must carry weight as to the consistent quality of her playing. It is a remarkable achievement.

Listening to the recording, it is clear that none of these prizes were isolated occurrences. The playing is of a precision and graceful flexibility that is normally associated only with the very greatest guitarists. So frequently one hears that slightly annoying aspect of squeaking left hand movement over the strings. It could be argued as being an essential part of the guitar experience, but frankly it is merely an annoying distraction heard almost universally. Not here. Montesinos plays with flair and undisguised virtuosity but the technical demands are covered by what sounds like a flawless command of technique. Her sound is beautiful in itself, but made the more so in that we hear only her right hand at work. The left hand is a silent manipulator of the strings. This technical command is impressive in fast music but she does not let it become the reason for her performance and this will be the crux of the distinction that has given her so many prestigious prizes. In the competition world technique is too often the be-all-and-end-all of performance. Here it is undoubtedly impressive but is quite obviously appreciated only as a support to the musical expression of the performance.

Of course, solo guitar repertoire is something of a specialist area of listening and it cannot be argued that all the music available, or indeed all the music recorded here, is especially memorable. The repertoire relies heavily on salon music of the late-18th and 19th centuries and of the composers recorded on this disc only Francisco Tárrega would be at all well known. This is not to say that there is not interest in the music, but the majority of it falls into the ‘charming’ category rather than anything more profound. Still, that is the repertoire of this instrument, and it is pleasing to note that, for this first release, Montesinos has not tried to fall back on transcriptions of piano or orchestral music. By avoiding such repertoire she can at least claim an inherent integrity.

When it comes to the music of Francisco Tárrega, it is immediately apparent why he is so revered amongst guitarists. The three tracks of his works are instantly recognisable and are imbued with that inner elegance, redolent of the hot wide expanses of central Spain. The performances are crisp and intelligent, underlined by the immaculate control mentioned above. While it might remain one for the specialists, there is certainly much to recommend to the general listener in this recording. The name of Anabel Montesinos is one that we will certainly hear more in the future.

Peter Wells

 

 



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