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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) [20:41] (A)
Concierto Andaluz for four guitars and orchestra (1967) [24:58] (CCPA)
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)

Concerto for four guitars and orchestra (transc. Op. 3 No. 10 four violins and orchestra, Estro Armonico) [9.23] (CCPA)
Concerto for guitar and orchestra (transc. concerto in C for mandolin and orchestra) [9.48] (Celedonio)
Concerto for two guitars and orchestra (transc. concerto in G for two mandolins and orchestra, Estro Armonico) [10.51] (P/Celin)
Celedonio Romero, Celin Romero, Pepe Romero, Angel Romero (guitars)
San Antonio Symphony Orchestra/Victor Alessandro
Rec. Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas, USA, Nov 1967. ADD
SACD reviewed in CD mode
MERCURY LIVING PRESENCE 475 6184 [76:47]

 

The Romeros, dubbed ‘Spain’s royal family of the guitar’ are the unifying core of this disc. Their playing is clean with none of the distracting aural clutter of finger noise on wood.

Plaintive, delicate, intensely atmospheric, instantly communicative, alluring, not profound but indelibly memorable: these two works represent Rodrigo at his very best. His conscious neo-archaisms can be vapid but he is always worth hearing; besides, these two works are Rodrigo in Romantic-Impressionist mode. The 1939 Aranjuez is his signet seal work - a concerto that has carried his name into the world’s affections. Here it is in a classic recording by Angel Romero. This is eager, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed playing of the highest order by both orchestra and soloist. The Andaluz is for all four family members. It shares the same characteristics as the Aranjuez. The sweeping and poignant counter-melody that sings over the rhythmic activity in the first movement quickly imprints and who can forget the plangent raindrop tenderness of the Adagio. The finale is exhilarating.

If you get this disc for the Rodrigo you will have no cause for complaint. The only gripe I have is Universal’s decision on the coupling. They had access to more Romero-performed Rodrigo which were used in the old two LP set (6747 430) Philips issued in 1976. That set added the Concierto Madrigal (Pepe; Angel) and the Fantasia para un Gentilhombre (Pepe) - both works in his renaissance revival stream. In these the Romeros were accompanied by the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields with Neville Marriner. Of course they were not Mercury Living Presence recordings so do not belong here. You can still have them (although not in SACD format) on Philips 462 296-2 (Aranjuez, Andaluz, Madrigal, Concierto Serenata, Sones en la Giralda, Fantasia para un gentilhombre, Concierto para una fiesta - Romeros, Michel (harp), ASMF/Marriner, Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra/de Almeida). Instead, for variety sake, we are offered three cool and charming Vivaldi transcriptions. Purists may want to avoid them but they are pleasing works in a comfortable idiom.

The stereo spread and sound impact is almost tactile.

Joyous music-making in the case of the Rodrigo items matched with three emotionally cool Vivaldi concertos.

Rob Barnett


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