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Andrés Segovia - 1950s American Recordings: Volume 5
Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968)
Capriccio diabolico (1935) [9:06]
Tonadilla (on the name of Andrés Segovia) Op.170 No.5 (1954) [5:12]
Quintet for Guitar and String Quartet Op.143 (1950) [22:49]
Gaspar CASSADÓ (1897-1966)
Sardana chigiana [3:54]
Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986)
Cavatina (1952) [15:04]
Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Zarabanda lejana (1920s) [5:02]
Jorge Gómez CRESPO (1900-1971)
Norteña [3:31]
Antonio LAURO (1917-1986)
Venezuelan Dance [2:40]
Hans HAUG (1900-1967)
Alba [4:36]; Postlude [4:36]
Andrés Segovia (guitar)
Quintetto Chigiano (quintet)
rec. New York 1954-56 except the Quintet, recorded in Sienna, August 1955
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.111313 [76:30]
Experience Classicsonline

Given Segovia’s pre-eminence the expert restoration of his Decca sides is proving to be auspicious. Despite the fact that we’ve never lacked for his discs this meticulous, superbly annotated series – Graham Wade, of course – has traced the tributary course of his New York sides with precision and intelligence. This disc brings one anomaly – the most substantial work here, Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Quintet was recorded for Decca in Sienna. Otherwise all the tracks were made in New York between 1954 and 1956.
 
The same composer’s Capriccio diabolico hints at its provenance with the Paganinian title. The violinist was also a noted guitarist and the tribute – the work is subtitled Omaggio a Paganini – quotes from La Campanella. It’s a virtuosic study, certainly, but its concentration on texture and colour is as exciting as the formal demands on technique, demanding though they are, not least the fast scalar runs. The Tonadilla (on the name of Andrés Segovia) was composed in 1954 and recorded the following year. Sensitive, limpid and reflective it explores the expressive qualities of which Segovia was so august a master. The Quintet is a big work, nearly twenty-three minutes long in this performance. It dates from 1950. The composer noted that it was “partly neo-classic and partly neo-romantic” and that it was written in a “Schubertian vein.” That accounts for the nature of the frolicsome sonata-allegro opening movement, and for the deepening lyricism of the slow movement. Perhaps the most vital music comes in the scherzo where the badinage quotient is high along with a salon tinge. The finale is festive and nourishing. Unassuming and playful this is an engaging work. Segovia and the members of the Quintetto Chigiano are well balanced and play with lightness and warmth.
 
Cassadó’s Sardana chigiana is evocative and doesn’t shy away from raps on the body of the instrument. The work was only discovered amongst Segovia’s pile of papers after his death and published in 2003. It seems unsure as to whether he actually ever performed it – Segovia’s unperformed slush pile was a notoriously long one. Tansman contributes a five movement Cavatina – it was originally four but Segovia asked for a lively finale to conclude things. The fluid dance of the Preludio sets the tone for a ravishing work, of which the beautiful Sarabande is the highlight. The Scherzino is elfin but quixotic, adding just the right measure of lemon twist – brilliantly fast passagework.. The suggested finale is suitably earthy and exciting. Tansman was one of the first non-Spaniards to write for Segovia and this is an inspired work.
 
We have the bonus of Rodrigo’s very tricky 1920s piece Zarabanda lejana and the lithe athleticism of Lauro’s Venezuelan Dance. And to finish two pieces by the Swiss composer Hans Haug. Alba has some Renaissance cadences; refined and noble, whilst Postlude - Haug called it Preludio but Segovia changed the title - is far more complex and harmonically advanced – by far the most difficult music in the disc.
 
Another chamber of delights then for the Segovia lover.
 
Jonathan Woolf

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