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Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Suite: Iberia
Arranged for three guitars by Christophe Dejour
Evocación [5:23]
El Puerto [4:29]
El Corpus Christi en Sevilla [8:36]
Rondeña [6:20]
Almería [8:21]
Triana [5:07]
El Albaicín [6:33]
El poso [6:14]
Lavapiés [6:34]
Málaga [4:56]
Jerez [9:31]
Eritaña [5:21]
Trio Campanella: Christophe Dejour, Frank Massa and Thomas Winthereik, guitars
Recorded at Torpen Chapel, Denmark, February to July 2000. DDD
NAXOS 8.557064 [77:25]

 

Isaac Albéniz is perhaps Spain’s most famous and recognized composer. Strangely enough, in a nation so associated with the guitar, Albéniz actually composed no guitar music. He did however admit that the instrument was his inspiration for a number of works and there are many successful guitar transcriptions that have become standards.

A pianist first, Albéniz showed great promise as a very young boy, but was not allowed into the Paris Conservatory because of his lack of maturity. Instead he studied in Madrid and later in Leipzig. During his young adulthood, his fame as a pianist grew and he toured Europe playing concerts. While abroad, he fell heavily under the influence of the French Impressionists, and became friends with such luminaries as Chausson, D’Indy and Fauré. In spite of his fondness for things French, his strongest influence was from Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922), a professor and researcher of Spanish music, who was insistent that Spanish composers should write Spanish music, using the folk tunes of the homeland as a model for more serious works. Thanks to Pedrell, Albéniz maintained the distinctively Spanish sound that would permeate his entire output.

In this first-ever arrangement for guitar of Albéniz’s most famous work, Iberia, Christophe Dejour has managed to capture quite successfully the colourful and complex score by recasting the work for not one, but three instruments. Dejour exploits all of the technical possibilities of his instruments to achieve a wide palette of sounds and subtle shadings. The results are both exciting and adventuresome.

His trio plays with verve and rhythmic drive, vividly capturing the ever-present dance motifs throughout the score. As a suite for piano, Iberia is a real finger-buster at times. Dejour has managed to keep all of the complexity in the score, giving all three members of his ensemble plenty of exercise. They play with precision and vigour, although I did find that at times major cadences came to a bit of a grinding halt as though the group had to catch its breath before starting up again. That little qualm aside, however, this disc makes for over an hour of very pleasant listening, and captures a refreshing new take on a well-worn masterpiece.

Recorded sound is a bit close for my taste, I hear more studio than room ambience, and I prefer the more natural bloom of a big space. Since this was recorded in a chapel, one can reasonably assume at least a decent acoustic, and it should have been exploited a bit more than it was. Notes are concise and informative, although wanting in discussion about the arrangements themselves as they relate to the original piano score.

Recommended, especially for lovers of the guitar.

Kevin Sutton

 



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