Fernando Sor is most familiar to us a composer for unaccompanied
guitar - and occasionally for guitar duet. He was a famously virtuosic
guitarist himself; but he wrote for a variety of vocal and instrumental
ensembles, not just for his own instrument – his output included
lost symphonies and string quartets. This present CD concentrates
attention upon some of his seguidillas for voice and guitar, colourful
reworkings of Spanish folk conventions in a manner which became
very fashionable in the musical salons of Spain – and far beyond
Spain – in the first thirty years of the nineteenth century.
It was in 1976 that
Brian Jeffrey first published an edition of some twelve such pieces,
following that collection up in 1999 with a further dozen of these
attractive miniatures. These pieces – some for solo voice, some
for two or three singers – offer a charming blend of folk rhythms
and phrasing with the polite and refined musical expectations
of the aristocratic salon. The results are not, it need hardly
be said, especially profound or searching – but they are entertaining
and often witty. Some of the sung texts are mildly risqué. Where
did these texts come from? Did Sor perhaps prepare some of them
himself? How many of them are based on folksongs or popular verses?
has put together a programme – arranged under a quasi-theatrical
‘narrative’ (with the pieces disposed in three ‘acts’ and an epilogue)
– which interleaves nineteen of Sor’s seguidillas with purely
instrumental pieces. Apparently when Laberintos Ingeniosos give
concert performances of Sor’s boleros their encores usually take
the form of boleros written in modern times by non-Spanish composers.
In keeping with this habit they close this CD with a performance
of a song by the Cuban Nilo Menéndez, ‘Aquilla ojos verdes’ (Those
green eyes) – which has been recorded over the years by - to name
but one or two members of a varied body performers – Jimmy Dorsey
and his Orchestra, Nat King Cole, Lou Donaldson, Anita O’Day,
Ibrahim Ferrer with the Buena Vista Social Club and Juan Diego
Florez (on Sentimiento Latino, Decca 475 6932)! Now here’s
a further performance, very different from all of its predecessors.
It makes an intriguing conclusion to an unpretentious album of
thoroughly relaxing music.
The performances are
full of ease and affection. This is the case with the songs –
of which highlights include ‘Cuando de tí me aparto’, which uses
all three singers and all three instrumentalists, and ‘Muchacha
y la vergüenza’, sung by Lambert Climent (though wouldn’t a female
voice have been better?) accompanied just by the guitar of Diaz-Latorre:
“Muchacha y la vergüenza ‘My
girl, where’s your modesty?
¿dónde se ha
ido? What has become of it?’
- Las cucuraches,
madre, ‘It was the cockroaches, mother,
se la han comido.
That devoured it.’
mientes, ‘My girl, you’re lying,
cucuraches Because cockroaches
no tienen dientes.”
Have no teeth.’
instrumental pieces are also well-played, with a vivid sense of
colour and rhythm The Opus 9 variations – on ‘Das klinget so Herrlich’
from Die Zauberflöte – get a particularly gracious
performance, the contrast between the first variation’s good humour
and the second’s stateliness being particularly delightful. But,
in truth, there is nothing here that doesn’t delight. This is
relatively lightweight music, but it is sophisticated stuff too,
and it gets very sympathetic and understanding performances here.