Born in Barcelona,
the Spaniard Miguel Llobet was one of
those composer/guitarists whose name
is well known among classical guitar
aficionados. However for some reason,
apart from his arrangements of Catalan
Folksongs and perhaps the Scherzo
Vals, his works are rarely recorded.
This state of affairs is therefore firmly
redressed with this programme of guitar
music entirely by Llobet.
His style of composing,
it could be assumed, was initially influenced
by Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909)
one of the most influential guitarists
in the history of the instrument, with
whom Llobet was a pupil. Llobetís "Mazurka
por Federico Bufaletti" has
more in common with Tárregaís
than just the form. With this connection
to Tárrega we also have a direct
lineage through Llobet to Andrès
Segovia (1893-1987), who was a friend
of Llobetís, down to the virtuosos of
the present day, most notably John Williams.
This is significant as Tárrega
was allegedly the founder of the modern
technique, albeit refined. In addition
to this both Tárrega and Llobetís
careers coincided with the development
of guitar construction by Antonio Torres
(1817-1892). Torres saw the instrument
through to the larger more sonorous
modern guitar we recognise today. This
may well have been a factor in the way
they played, thus influencing the way
are firmly rooted in the world of the
miniature (the longest single piece
on this disc being only 5:58 minutes,
and many of them are less than one minute)
but are still imbued with a certain
charm. In terms of his use of harmony,
Llobet drew from the Impressionists,
who at the time were so fashionable.
This is most apparent in the "Catalan
Folksongs" but also in the
harmonic structure of the "Folia"
a form going back in musical history
and popular during the 17th
century. On this disc the "Folia"
is heard on "Variaciones sobre
un tema de Sor" in acknowledgment
of Fernando Sor (1778-1839) the guitar
virtuoso of the previous generation.
Llobet was also fond of the Mazurka,
the Polish dance form so developed by
Chopin. In his touring career Llobet
travelled to South America experiencing
those sounds that would eventually,
after the ethnic mix was well stirred,
become so important to the contempary
repertoire of today, Llobetís three
"Estilo popular Argentino"
and "Leonesa", (tracks
24-27) all of which are in a rather
melancholy vein, could be regarded as
a forerunner of this tradition.
For this recording
Naxos has employed the services of guitarist
Lorenzo Micheli whose playing of a programme
of music by Castelnuovo-Tedesco for
the same label was very impressive.
Micheliís tone is full and his approach
firm, yet tender when required, resulting
in a most spirited performance of this
music, if a little marred by, but not
excessively so, left hand finger movement
on the strings.
This recording, made
in Italy with production and sound engineering
by Renato Campajola, does not seem to
have the ambience and refinement that
we come to expect from the Naxos regulars
of guitar recording Norbert Kraft and
Bonnie Silver but is nevertheless a
fine addition to the catalogue.