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Federico MORENO TORROBA (1893-1982)
Guitar Music Volume 1
Castles of Spain: Turégano [2:22]; Manzanares el Real [1:04]; Alcaniz [1:43]; Siguenza [1:55]; Alba de Tormes [1:41]; Torija [2:06]; Montemayor [1:30]; Olite [2:17]; Zafra [2:54]; Redaba [1:28]; Simancas [1:48]; Alcázar de Segovia [2:42]; Javier [3:57]; Calatrava [2:59]
Gates of Madrid: Puerta de Alcalá [2:44]; Puerta del Angel [1:52]; Puerta Cerrada [3:10]; Peurta de Hierro [1:29]; Puerta de San Vicente [1:36]; Puerta de Toledo [1:47]; Puerta de Moros [2:54] Preludio [2:18]; Vieja Leyenda [2:20]; Jaranera [1:28]
Ana Vidovic (guitar)
rec. 22-25 September 2005 at St. John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
NAXOS 8.557902 [52:40]

It is six years since the first Naxos recording of guitarist Ana Vidovic was released. While she has made other commercial recordings, this has been the most widely available. With an eclectic programme ranging from J.S. Bach to Sir William Walton, it could only be described as outstanding
In that original Naxos recording Ana Vidovic demonstrated an amazing technical facility; she has ability to play extremely fast but with consummate precision and accuracy. Her rendition of Ponce’s Sonata Romantic is a musical feast.
The review disc, her second for Naxos, is strongly divergent in that it contains music all from the pen of one compose: Spaniard, Federico Moreno Torroba.  The music selected encompasses principally a collection of pieces that pay tribute to the many ancient fortifications throughout Spain and evokes the atmosphere of romance and mystery of a bygone era.
The castles that Torroba chose actually exist, but in the realms of fantasy and legend they are equally real. He did not indicate a sequence in which these works should be played and in the usual sense the pieces do not constitute a suite. The familiar Romance de los Pinos recorded in 1961 by Segovia is named Montemayor (7) on the review disc.
The gates of Madrid relate to a time when Madrid was a walled city.  Even when the walls were removed, commemorative arches were constructed and other entrances were preserved or renovated. Like Castles of Spain this creation reflects Torroba’s preoccupation and interest in chains of images.
Andrés Segovia formed a long and lasting association with Torroba and after an initial work at the behest of Segovia, a dance in E major, Torroba composed some 80 works for the guitar. These include dances, impressionistic pieces, sonatas and sonatinas, suites as well as concertos and composition for four guitars.
Anna Vidovic comes from the small town of Karlovac near Zagreb in Croata. She started playing the guitar at the age of five and aged seven gave her first public performance. At age 11 she was performing internationally.  Two years later she became the youngest student to attend the National Musical Academy of Zagreb where she studied with Istvan Romer. Her reputation in Europe led to an invitation to attend the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, USA. There she studied with Manuel Barrueco and graduated in May 2003. Her long list of achievements includes first place in the 1998 International Francisco Tárrega Competition, Benicasim. She also won first prize in the Albert Agustine Competition in Bath, and the Fernando Sor competition in Rome.
In addition to its harmonies and rhythms, there are cultural components of Spanish music that are challenging to articulate but readily recognizable when acknowledged by the interpreting musician.  One Spanish-born guitarist noted that he could always tell whether the guitarist playing Spanish music was a native of that country. The great flamenco guitarist Sabicas personified the very soul of flamenco and few, even of his fellow countrymen, have so successfully captured the spirit and soul of this folk music.
The programme chosen while thematically coherent, interesting and enjoyable is, in one sense, unfortunate: it is all from the pen of one Spanish composer and is intended to evoke the soul and spirit of Spanish culture.
Julian Bream noted that his rendition of some Spanish music, specifically Albéniz and Granados, ‘may be un-Spanish to the Spaniard, but for others it is an image of Spain that they can comprehend, understand and be charmed by.’  The renditions of Torroba’s music by Ana Vidovic I can relate to and enjoy, but they lack the intrinsic spirit and soul of Spain with which Torroba embued them. As a point of comparison and reference, listen to the music of Torroba played by José Luis González (El Testament D’Amelia  Sony SRCR8967) and Andrés Segovia (The Segovia Collection Vol. 2, MCA Classics).
It may be that this impression is exacerbated by the use of a very non-Spanish sounding guitar. This instrument by Australian luthier J. K. Redgate, despite many virtues, does not reach the zenith of its prowess on the music of Torroba. Guitars that depart radically from traditional Spanish designs are favoured by many of today’s most eminent players but I have yet to hear an instrument of this kind that can tonally compare with the best of traditional Spanish design.
Given an eclectic programme, Ana Vidovic has few peers from the current generation of concert guitarists.  Usually everything about her playing is admirable.  However based on this all-Torroba programme, and utilizing the type of instrument that she employs, Vidovic often fails to capture the spirit of the music.
Zane Turner

see also review by Göran Forsling 



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