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Francisco TÁRREGA (1852-1909)
Complete works for guitar [109:12]
Capricho Arabe [5:23]; La Alborada [2:00]; El Columpio [2:36]; Maria [1:18]; Marieta [2:14];Adelita [1:55];Rosita [1:31];Grand Vals [2:37]; Danza Odalisca [2:58]; Pavana [2:05]; Paquito [2:14];Pepita [1:17]; Danza Mora [2:04] Vals en re [2:02]; Recuerdos de la Alhambra [5:21]; Mazurka en sol [2:10];Minuetto [1:23]; Estudio sobre una sonatina de Alard [2:11]; Isabel [1:12]; La Mariposa [1:06]; Estudio sobre un estudio de Cramer [1:20]; Sueño-mazurka [1:39]; Las dos Hermanas [4:05]; Variaciones sobre el Carnaval de Venecia de Paganini [8:55]
Preludio en re [0:24]; Preludio en mi [0:37];Preludio en la menor [0:22]; Preludio en sol [0:42]; Preludio en mi [1:26];Preludio en re [0:18];Preludio en sol [0:34];Preludio en la menor [ 1:35];Lagrima [1:33]; Preludio en re menor [1:17]; Preludio en la [0:43];Preludio en la [0:40];Preludio en si menor [0:56]; Preludio en mi [0:43]; Preludio en fa# menor [0:32]; Preludio en re [0:30]; Oremus [0:49]; Endecha [0:50]; Preludio en la [0:48]; Preludio en do [0:47]; Preludio en mi menor [0:28]; Preludio en la [0:20]; Preludio en la menor [0:23]; Preludio en la [0:20]; Preludio en la menor (da Robert Schumann:Presto op.99 n.2) [1:02]; Estudio en forma de Minuetto [1:55];Estudio sobre un tema de Damas [1:38]; Sueño (tremelo) [6:19]; Estudio en sol [2:15];Estudio sobre una sonatina de Prudend [3:22]; Estudio de velocidad [1:27]; Mazurka sobre un tema anònimo Español [0:50]; F.Mendelssohn (trans. Tárrega): Bacarola veneziana op.19 n.6 [2:23]; Fantasia sobre la Traviata de Verdi [2:30].
Giulio Tampalini (guitar)
rec. no information provided
CONCERTO CD 2001/2 [62:36 + 46:36]


The name of Francisco Tárrega y Eixea, more commonly just Francisco Tárrega, engenders great reverence in the world of the classical guitar. He championed the instrument, composed music for it when the guitar was in a period of decline (late Romanticism) and well deserved the epithet ‘modern awakener of the guitar’.

Tárrega was born in Villareal, Castellón de la Plana on 21 November 1852. In the booklet accompanying this new release it will be noted that, in several places, 1825 is incorrectly referenced as the year of his birth.

After initial piano studies Tárrega then devoted his entire attention to the guitar, developing a new technical approach, and composing works to facilitate the implementation of those innovations. A footstool for the left foot and the forearm/wrist angle of the right hand typified by Andrès Segovia, are integral components of his technique.

Tárrega was a master of the miniature. The majority of his original works do not exceed three minutes in length. His Preludes best exemplify this, reflecting his introspective streak. They are melodically and harmonically intense.

Another creative genius contributing to the advancement of the classical guitar was a contemporary, luthier Antonio de Torres (1817-1892). Tárrega acquired an instrument by Torres, one of several that ultimately entered his possession. In comparison with traditional instruments of the day, those by Torres facilitated left-hand fingering, particularly multiple stoppings, and produced louder and superior sound. The new sonorities and tonal colours that characterised Torres’ guitars, were exploited by Tárrega with creative and consummate excellence.

Tárrega’s works have recently attracted increasing attention by recording artists.

In 1991 guitarist David Russell (b. Scotland, 1953) released a 2CD set of his works, Integral de Guitarra (Opera Tres CDS 1003/4). Trancisco Tárrega - Works for the Guitar featuring guitarist Fernando Espi (b. Spain, 1975) was released in 2003 by Verso (VRS 2007) and has been reviewed in this forum.

This present set purports to contain the complete (original) works of Tárrega. What represents the entire corpus of his original compositions appears to be the subject of academic debate. Interestingly David Russell’s offering contains 62 different original works and that of Tampalini only 58.

While Tárrega may have only approved of publishing compositions that were original, some students exercised less discretion. Material copied and adapted from other sources for didactic purposes appeared in circulation attributed to him and was irresponsibly printed in some editions. It may be into this latter category that the rather lovely Estudio de Campanelas (su un tema dellaFolia” di Fossa) from the Fernando Espi recording (17) falls, since it appears in neither the Russell nor Tampalini programme. Tárrega’s Tango in B flat that appears both on the Russell discs (D2/4) the Espi offering (11) has been omitted from the review discs. With regard to total works including arrangements, transcriptions etc. in an extensive publication on Tárrega, disciple Emilio Pujol listed 217.

Tárrega was not methodical in identifying his compositions and used no systematic opus numbering. Sometimes the border between studies and preludes is hazy and on occasions the two became synonymous. The Prelude was a genre in which Tárrega excelled. Although only nine were published during his lifetime, in a recent printed publication of his complete works (Soneto Ediciones Musicale- Madrid), a total of 35 appear. In another Italian edition, Edizioni Berben (1971) a total of 39 are listed. The liner-notes attached to the review discs suggest that ‘based on critical use of the Spanish edition, 24 Preludes were chosen for inclusion in the current programme’. David Russell’s offering contains the same number (24) of Preludes.

Giulio Tampalini was born in Brescia, Italy in 1971. His early tutelage includes Gianluigi Fia, Marco De Santi, and Angelo Gilardino who also wrote the informative notes that accompany the review discs.

At age 20 Tampalini earned his diploma cum lauda from the conservatory ‘G.F. Ghedini’ in Cuneo. He subsequently attended master-classes with Tilman Hoppstock, Dusan Bogdanovic and Eliot Fisk.

Tampalini has also achieved impressive wins in several major International Guitar Competitions including the prestigious Andrès Segovia International Guitar Competition in Granada.

Repeated listening to the review programme, especially disc one, initiates a recurring impression that is challenging to articulate. One explanation may be that Tampalini plays this Spanish music in an Italian guitar-school style - if indeed such a thing exists. The magnificent José Luis González (1932-1998) personified the Spanish style of playing; David Russell appears to emulate this. Russell’s success in getting to the interpretive core of Tárrega’s music is reflected in his 1977 first prize win in the Benicasim competition where he also received the special Francisco Tárrega prize, awarded for the best performance of Tárrega’s works. Julian Bream playing the same music reveals yet another quite different approach; as usual Bream excels.

An alternative explanation may be that in a number of the pieces, especially on disc one, Tampalini places technical virtuosity above musical interpretation. Relevant examples include the A major section of Marieta (5), Rosita (7) and Estudio sobre un estudio de J.B.Cramer (21). Excluding this writer, some will view Tampalini’s approach as representing innovativeness and modernity, preferring it to alternative interpretations such as those already cited. To others it may sound musically flippant.

Incongruous with such pigeonholing, Mr. Tampolini proceeds to produce a quite outstanding Recuerdos de la Alhambra (15) that would be hard to beat under any circumstances.

On the second disc, Tampalini plays and interprets the 24 Preludes well. Oremus (17) was the very last piece that Tárrega wrote before he died - some sources indicate the last piece published before he died and both may be correct. To date no-one has managed to interpret and execute this miniature masterpiece quite like Anabel Montesinos (Naxos 8.557294), who won the 2002 International Francisco Tárrega Prize, Benicasim.

The general sonic qualities of this recording are not particularly ingratiating. There are guitarists who patriotically play instruments constructed by fellow countrymen. It may be that Tampalini is a case in point using a guitar by Luciano Lovadina (1987) that irrespective does not compare with the unnamed instrument played by David Russell on his Opera Tres recording. Excelling both is the sound produced by Marco Tamayo who plays an instrument by Simon Marty on his remarkable new recording of Paganini’s guitar music (Naxos 8.557598).

In isolation this new offering of Tárrega’s music capably addresses the key components that have made him a most celebrated composer of guitar music, especially of miniatures. For those who may be unfamiliar with the works of Tárrega, investment in this recording will ensure musical pleasure and fulfilling discovery.

Comparatively, the equivalent offering by David Russell still represents the gold standard for overall excellence. Regrettably, like many other outstanding discs, it may be hard to find or have been deleted from the retail catalogue.

Zane Turner



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