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RECORDING OF THE MONTH

 

 

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Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Goyescas (Los majos enamorados) (1909-11) [55:57]
El Pelele (The Straw Man) [5:49]
(arranged for guitars by Christophe Dejour)
Trio Campanella: (Christophe Dejour; Frank Massa; Thomas Winthereik, (guitars))
rec. Torpen Chapel, Denmark, December 2006, April 2006.
NAXOS 8.557709 [61:47] 

 

A couple of years ago, the Trio Campanella came out with a striking recording of Albeniz’s Iberia in an arrangement for three guitars. Although I did not review that recording, I have heard it many times and have found it one of the more enjoyable discs in my collection. With this recording of Goyescas, the trio, aided by Christophe Dejour’s marvelously idiomatic arrangements proves itself to be a musical force with which to be reckoned. To put it simply, this is the finest recording of music for guitars that I have ever heard. 

To begin with, the material is beyond reproach. Granados’s musical renderings of Goya’s portraits of eighteenth century life in Madrid are amongst the finest compositions in the piano literature. Dejour has sensitively adapted the music for his ensemble, and none of the striking piano colors are lost. Too complicated for a single guitar, this ensemble idea fits the music like a glove, and the sound is divine.

Of equal importance is the quality of the playing. These three musicians play together with the perfection of a Swiss timepiece. The palette of tonal color that they achieve is almost orchestral.

Best yet, the recording is devoid of all the things that I hate in guitar recordings. There are no incessantly squeaking strings. I am told that guitarists often restring their instruments just before a recording session, and that the new strings tend to squawk with every change of hand position. Gone also is the maddening sniffing and snorting for which guitarists - and string quartets - are notorious. 

What is left is a beautiful sound, warmly recorded and oh my, what splendid music! There are some purists who will fuss at the transcription idea, but there should be no reason to quibble here. The rich warm tone of the three guitars is perfectly suited to the vivid colors and sophisticated rhythms of the music. There is little to say other than “go buy this disc and enjoy it.” It makes me anxious to revisit their earlier recording of the Albeniz mentioned above (Naxos 8.557064), and anxiously to await what will come next from this outstanding ensemble.

Kevin Sutton 

see also Review by Glyn Pursglove


 


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