Revisiting, as I have, so many of Segovia’s post-war American
Deccas has been a decidedly enriching experience. This volume,
which captures recordings made in 1952, 1954 and 1956, is no exception.
The romantic transcriptions sound as natural in this context as
do the Villa-Lobos Etudes – all part of Segovia’s alchemical powers
to seduce and to move.
The Schumann Romanza
for instance evokes deft colour and wit whilst the two Franck
pieces make a good contrastive pair. The second, a Moderato,
is the more interesting and to it the master guitarist brings
a certain gravity. It’s when we reach the Grieg though that
we can feel Segovia at his finest. The third of the Op.47 Lyric
Pieces is marvellously sustained and etched with such evocative
coloration that it seems bewitching. The delicate cantabile
at reduced dynamics of the Scriabin attests to other virtues
as well – sensitive shaping of melodic lines.
But I suppose it’s
the second half of the disc’s programme that moves us to altogether
more authentically Segovian ground. The de Falla Debussy tribute
is a study in mood and feeling. Then there is the biggest work
here, the Fantasia-Sonata by the violinist Juan Manén. At not
far short of twenty minutes this is quite a major statement. It
has a slow introduction which in the slightly cavernous recording
sounds ominous. There are contrastive sections, plenty of Flamenco
strumming and lissom Iberian panache as well as some languid sun-drenched
ones as well. It’s a good piece, dedicated ‘Por y para Andrés
Segovia’ – lest anyone thinks this is any kind of transcription
from a violin original – but it doesn’t quite sustain its length,
enjoyable though it is.
There is a sequence
of Villa-Lobos’s superb Etudes, recorded for Decca between 1952
and 1956. Despite the fact that this would seem superficially
to be canonic Segovia repertoire the fact is that he came quite
late to these etudes. No.3 in A minor is tailor made for a Bachian
such as Segovia, whilst No.1 in E minor - the last of this sequence
of five to be recorded – is an intensely concentrated affair.
Torroba is represented of course. His Sonatina is strongly rhythmic
and clean-limbed whilst the three character pieces by the same
composer that end the disc are evidence of Torroba’s gift for
characterisation. I’d especially recommend Nocturno.
Graham Wade contributes
his usual expert commentary and the transfers do justice to the
characteristically accomplished performances.
see also Review
by Göran Forsling