new recording by guitarist Ricardo Gallén
is his fifth for Naxos. On this occasion he plays music by Regondi
Gallén, born in Linares in 1972, began
playing the guitar at the age of four and made his first public
appearance one year later. Having enjoyed initial tuition with
Tomás Villajos Soler, he continued his studies at the Conservatories
of Jaén, Madrid, Cordoba and Granada, augmented
by master classes. He also studied early music at the Salzburg
Mozarteum and at Munich University. He serves as professor at the Barcelona Escuela de Artes “Luthier.”
Regondi and Mertz carried on the composer-performer tradition
of their predecessors Sor and Giuliani, as did their contemporaries
Coste and Ferranti.
was considered the norm, and not until the 20th Century,
when Segovia and Bream approached other composers to write original
works for the guitar did the repertory begin to establish a
Regondi/Mertz combination is a good chronological and thematic
fit, each being approximate contemporaries and guitarist/composers
- coincidentally both died age fifty. However on this occasion
it has a conspicuous downside for Mr Mertz.
Niccolò Paganini and the guitarist Luigi
Legnani, each competent in the other’s instrument
often played duets. Legnani complained constantly that the music
composed by Paganini for these duets always had the violin in
the leading role.
responded by writing new material that positioned the guitar
in the leading role, but without informing Legnani,
offered to swap instruments thereby placating his disgruntled
colleague. Legnani readily agreed, ironically again finding
himself in the subordinate musical role.
the music by Regondi/Mertz presented
here in duet form, Paganini would instinctively choose Regondi
for the lead and relegate Mertz to his colleague. Legnani would
doubtless express the same frustration at finding himself in
the subordinate role playing the Mertz part.
approach to this music by Mr. Gallén
is very “period” and employs an instrument made by Joaquin Garcia
Malaga, a copy of a 19th century guitar.
writer has always questioned the concept of slavish compliance
with authentic performance practice at the expense of final
sound. In the case of the violin and cello the fundamental structure
of the instrument has changed little and one could argue that
the sound of the Baroque instrument is not a compromise in authentic
performance but an advantage.
the time of Regondi and Mertz the classical guitar has undergone
monumental changes and improvements to both quality and volume
of sound. At this very time luthiers are making design changes
to improve the quality and volume of sound. While not all agree
with the purported advantages of some modern innovations, the
advantages of changes and improvements effected by Antonio de
Torres (1817-1892) are unequivocal.
Gallén is a fine guitarist with strong command of the recorded
material. Whether or nor the use of a period instrument embellishes
or detracts from the overall end result is a matter of personal
preference. A comparison with the sound produced by a modern
guitar in his recording Guitar Recital, Naxos 8.554832, suggests that if the sound per se is paramount, use of a
period instrument is a compromise.
is an important recording for those with a knowledge of and
commitment to guitar music of the period. It is less relevant
to those with a casual interest centring on the modern classical