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Spanish Night II: Concertos for Panpipes, Guitars and Orchestra
Gerald Garcia (b.1949)

Lorca Concerto for 2 guitars and orchestra (2000)
Gheorghe ZAMFIR (b.1941)

Concierto de Barcelona for panpipes and guitar duo (2002)
Joaquin RODRIGO (1901 - 1999)

Fantasia para un Gentilhombre, Concerto for guitar and orchestra (1954)
Horst-Hans BÄCKER (b.1959)

Rhapsodia Mallorquina (2002) [15.18]
Amadeus Guitar Duo: Dale Kavanagh and Thomas Kirchoff, guitars
Gheorghe Zamfir, panpipes; Dale Kavanagh, solo guitar
Statsphilharmonie Arad/Horst-Hans Bäcker
Recorded at Kulturpalais, Arad, Romania, 25 June 2003
Notes in Deutsch and English. Photos of the artists.
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 98.441 [78.43]
{"Spanish Night," guitar concertos by Rodrigo, is on Hänssler CD 98.349}

The notes relate how Zamfir’s first instrument was the banjo. At the age of 14 he went to the Bucarest Academy to enter the accordion class, but it was full, so he was deferred to the panpipes class - and the rest is history. It’s been 2000 years since the Great God Pan was declared "dead," but today Great Pan lives again, and Zamfir is his royal musician. Like Zamfir’s previous compositions this work is full of bright orchestral color, Rumanian flourishes, and drama, along with the fascinating sound of the panpipes. The guitars make occasional comments but always seem to be accompanying Zamfir. It’s his concerto, he can do whatever he wants.

Garcia’s concerto is tuneful, atmospheric, colourful, and very idiomatic and makes abundant use of the virtuosity guitar soloists (track 3). Bäcker’s Rhapsody is intriguing, also colourful, and idiomatic, and makes good use of the orchestra, an effective wind-up to our concert (track 12).

The notes tell us "...For his composition From the Depths I Cry Out To You, Lord Bäcker won the prize of the De Profundus composers’ competition in Cologne." [sic] Right. Also we read how Romania and Spain have "close cultural ties ... through the Moors" — rather like Manchuria, Kazakhstan, and Finland have close cultural ties because the Czar’s armies occupied all three? Who am I to disagree. And even though Dale Kavanagh is one-half of the Amadeus Guitar Duo (and, one assumes, the mother of Kirchoff’s child), she and the Duo are consistently referred to as though they were completely different people. Contract stipulations, no doubt, but a bit confusing at times.

The often heard Rodrigo concerto uses themes of the Spanish composer Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710). This Rodrigo work has always suffered by comparison with his justly much more famous Concierto de Aranjuez, but these performers capture the Renaissance atmosphere and in general turn in a more effective performance than any I’ve heard (track 8). The guitars are recorded very close, but the orchestral sound is natural and the performance idiomatic.

Canadian-born German resident Kavanagh has some fun with the Duo’s official portrait: Her female characteristics restrained only by a low slung knit dress, her hair artfully disarrayed, she smirks at the camera like a Carmen who has just spit out her cigarette while Kirchoff glowers in the corner like a Don José who has just about figured it all out. In the cover photo they strike more of an elegant out-for-an-evening-in-Buenos-Aires mood. I hope Kirchoff and other mod European men who travel realize that a man wearing lipstick on the street in many US cities will quickly attract a rowdy, jeering crowd and he’d be lucky to get back to the hotel to wash it off without being assaulted.
Paul Shoemaker

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