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Fugas y Fandangos: Music for Two Guitars
Manuel DE FALLA (1876-1946)
La Vida Breve (1905):Dance I [3.34]
(transcription: Emilio Pujol, arr. Mebes/Freire)
El Sombrero de Tres Picos (1917): Miller’s Dance (Fandango) [3.56]
(transcription: Susanne Mebes;  Joaquim Freire)
Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968)
The Well-Tempered Guitars, Op 199 (1961)
[No. 3] Prelude and Fugue in a [5.36]
[No. 4] Prelude and Fugue in E [4.34]
[No. 5] Prelude and Fugue in b [7.08]
Sonatina Canonica Op. 196 (1961) [10.56]
[Preludio y] Fuga Elegiaca [Op. Post.] [4.03]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Goyescas (1911): Intermedio [4.33]
(transcription: Emilio Pujol, arr. Mebes/Freire)
El Fandango de Candil [7.58]
(transcription: Susanne Mebes;  Joaquim Freire)
Susanne Mebes, Joachim Friere (guitars)
recorded 30 October 1994, Vers l’Eglise, Switzerland.
Notes in English, Deutsch, Français. Photos of artists and composers.
LÉMAN CLASSICS LC44401 [52.41]


Comparison recordings
Castelnuovo-Tedesco: early piano works, Jordi Masó, Naxos 8.555856 - see review
Castelnuovo-Tedesco: WTGG(exc), Duo Batendo [Ton Huijsman, Sjaak van Vugt] Etcetera KTC 1057
Granados: Goyescas, Alicia DeLarrocha. Decca 411 956-2
 
One has the greatest admiration for the fluid pan-European ease of switching languages. I have a video of Myung-Whun Chung - who is presumably fluent in Chinese - speaking Italian to the Estonian Chamber Orchestra while conversing with Arvo Pärt alternately in English and German, while Pärt comments in Estonian to his assistant.
 
The title of this disk is in Spanish, presumably the lingua franca for guitar music, and the official birth language1 of two of the three composers on the disk. Castelnuovo-Tedesco - His Italian family name referes to being “German” {i.e., Sephardic Jewish} from Nuevo Castile in Spain in 1500CE - was born in and grew up in Florence, Italy. His early piano music was very well thought of and some of it has been recorded. After the rise of Facism in Italy and his move to the US in 1939 he presumably spoke mostly English; I know from personal observation that his widow was fluent in English. In Hollywood Castelnuovo-Tedesco wrote tons of generic film music; his most famous score was for And Then There Were None, and then Son of Lassie, Courage of Lassie, on down to The Guns of Fort Petticoat and then (wait for it!) The Creature with the Atom Brain and 20 Million Miles to Earth. Most of his serious works were published with Italian titles on the scores. Although I was unable to research this, I find it impossible to believe that his Op 199, written in the USA, was actually entitled “Les Guitares Bien Temperées” 2. Are we to believe that Emilio Pujol entitled his guitar arrangement of the danza from La Vida Breve “Premier Danse Espagnole”? And why should the miller’s dance from El Sombrero de Tres Picos be entitled “Danse de la Meunière”? To quote the immortal Spike Jones, I must go away somewhere and figure this all out. In the meantime, since, worldwide, the lingua franca is now English, I have translated where appropriate.

When Granados wasn’t writing characteristic Spanish pieces he was writing so much in the style of Schumann that parts of Goyescas are all but indistinguishable from Kreisleriana. But it can be argued that in his time the German musical style was a sort of lingua franca of musical composition. At the same time most North-American composers, for instance, were also writing pseudo-German music. This situation continued into the 20th century, up to the anti-German reaction accompanying World War I, of which Granados was a casualty 3. Further confusing things is that not only did he orchestrate a lot of his other music for his opera Goyescas, but a section of his creative life is scholarly described as his “Goyescas” period. Hence the “intermedio” on this disk is listed as from Goyescas, but you will not find it on any piano recording of Goyescas, and is not the same music as the “intermedio” found in the opera, while the Fandango de Candil is No. 3 on every recording of Goyescas the piano suite. Unmentioned in all of this is the painter Francisco de Goya whose paintings famously inspired the composer to write vivid musical images from eighteenth century Spain, albeit sometimes in the style of Schumann.
 
The preludes in Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Op 199 are Chopinesque, the fugues begin with staggered entries, and continue with imitative counterpoint. But if you’re expecting a structured dramatic fugal exposition such as Bach — or Tchaikovsky or Shostakovich or Hovhaness — gives you you may be disappointed. These are lightweight works, diverting to be sure, and the multiple voice guitar texture is arresting and beautifully played. I have been listening to these works for 25 years, starting with the original two LP release of the complete recording by the Duo Batendo and to this day can’t tell one from another or remember a note of any of them. Of course, I’m expecting too much, I grant that; and you may disagree passionately.
 
The Sonata Canonica and the Fuga Elegiaca on the other hand are among C-T’s finest works. As sometimes with Buxtehude, the Fuga includes a prelude, and this is a real prelude and fugue, one that would make Bach proud, one that may become one of your favorite guitar recordings as it is mine. The Sonata is in threee movements, the first a charming grazioso e leggiero, the second a beautiful Siciliano melody 4, the third an exciting and very Spanish fandango.
 
The chácona, pasacalle, and fandango are Spanish dances and hence rondo-like musical forms based on a repeated bass figure with variations in the treble. The first two had became absorbed into the European instrumental musical mainstream by the sixteenth century whereas the fandango stayed in Spain appearing early on in works by Antonio Soler and Boccherini. Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti wrote vocal fugues and Domenico is credited one keyboard fugue. Corelli wrote passacaglias as well as fugues for strings. There are counterpoints and variations on a ground, but no fugues, in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Purcell famously imitated Italian models, but while he wrote “chaconies,” he did not write fugues; but Buxtehude at the same time was writing keyboard fugues extensively. Since the word fuga clearly comes from the Latin the fugue form would appear to have come from Italian vocal music directly into Danish and German keyboard practice and only later into English music, perhaps with Handel. It may be that Sylvius Leopold Weiss wrote the first fugues for lute/guitar.
 
The works by Falla on the disk are cast iron warhorses of impugnable durability. It is interesting to compare the usual piano arrangement performances with these guitar arrangements. Rather than program these customary encore pieces, I wish these performers had arranged for guitars some of C-T’s unfamiliar early piano pieces.
 
Paul Shoemaker

Notes
* Actually Granados was born in Barcelona speaking Catalá, also spoken extensively in southern France, but, as in our time when the lingua Franco of Spain was Castilian, Catalá was at that time illegal. I recall reading that a sixteenth century European critic lamented that Shakespeare wrote in so unknown and provincial a Germanic dialect as English, whereas if he had wrtitten in one of the widely spoken cosmpolitan world languages like Danish, Dutch or Latin, many more people would be able to read him and he might have become well known.
 
** The title is something of a misnomer, since Bach’s Well Tempered Klavier was tuned unequally utilizing a system similar to that of Werckmeister, whereas all fretted stringed instruments, such as guitars, have always been equal tempered.
 
*** Granados and his wife were on their way home from the (not very successful) New York premier of the opera version of Goyescas when their ship was sunk by a German torpedo and they perished.
 
**** With a brief quotation from Träumerei. Schumann again!  

 




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