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Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)
CD 1
1. Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) [21:14]
2. Concierto de estío (1943) [20:36]
3. Concierto en modo galante (1949) [25:45]
4. Zarabanda lejana y villancico (1926-30) [9:23]
CD 2
5. Concierto Serenata (1952) [23:01]
6. Concierto pastoral (1977) [25:14]
7. Concierto heroico (1942) [30:37]
Alfonso Moreno (guitar: 1); Agustin Leon Ara (violin: 2); Robert Cohen (cello: 3); Nancy Allen (harp: 5); Lisa Hansen (flute: 6); Jorge Federico Osorio (piano: 7)
London Symphony Orchestra (1-4); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (5-7)/Enrique Bátiz
rec. 14-16 August 1981 (1-4), Watford Town Hall, UK; 11-13 December, 1984 (6,7), Watford Town Hall; 14 January, 1985, St Barnabas Church, Woodside Park, London (5). DDD.
Experience Classicsonline

If you’re looking for an economical way to obtain six concertos by Rodrigo, one each for the major solo instruments for which he wrote, plus an example of his non-concertante music, look no further than this reissue. Here are two well-filled CDs with not a dud performance between them. The set is currently on offer for less than £7 from one dealer – a special offer, but you should be able to obtain it for around £8 even when that offer concludes.
There’s only one better Rodrigo bargain on the market, in the form of a Brilliant Classics 4-CD set (7562), licensed from EMI and containing these same seven Bátiz-directed performances plus the Concierto madrigal, Concierto andaluz and the Fantasia para un gentilhombre, major works not contained here. Rob Barnett wrote of the Brilliant box: ‘If you want an unbeatably inexpensive Rodrigo splurge then this set is an extremely pleasing choice in good clear sound’ – see review – and it works out even less per disc than the EMI reissue, cheap as that is.
The omission from the EMI reissue of the Fantasia para un Gentilhombre is the only major flaw, since it has some claims to be a more attractive work even than the famous Aranjuez concerto. In fact, for me, it equals its better-known rival; I know that Rob Barnett thinks otherwise, but I’m a real sucker for 20th-century re-workings of baroque music such as Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances and Rodrigo’s Fantasia.
Bátiz’s recordings of James Galway’s flute arrangement of the Fantasia and several of the other works not included on this 2-CD set used to be available on a budget-price EMI Encore CD (5 87030-2). If you want a classic guitar version of the Fantasia and don’t mind a less than ideal recording, try Segovia on DG 474 425 2. Neither is currently available but remainders and second-hand copies may be. Alternatively you can download the Segovia from also have Pepe Romero’s Aranjuez and Fantasia, coupled with Invocación y danza, for a mere £4.99 (Decca Originals 475 8248, with Neville Marriner and the ASMF). Even when the current 10% discount ends, this will still be cheaper than the equivalent CD even though, at mid-price, that won’t break the bank either.
The Brilliant box also includes the beautiful Per la flor del lliri blau and Alla busca del más allá, both very worthwhile pieces regarded by some as finer even than the concertos. Unfortunately, each is too long to have been included as a replacement, say, for the one non-concertante piece, Zarabanda lejana y villancico; in any case, that is also an attractive work. Why do Spanish composers do dances in the distance so well, as in the danza lejana section of Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain?
Otherwise, unless you must have a particular soloist – Julian Bream, say, or one of the Romeros, in the Concierto de Aranjuez – and don’t mind the omission of the Fantasia, you can hardly go wrong with this new 2-CD distillation. If you must have Julian Bream, his Aranjuez may be had on a choice of mid-price RCA recordings, both coupling the Fantasia para un gentilhombre and Invocacion y danza, 09026 61611 2 or 82876 60870 2. Sundry members of the Romero family perform couplings including Aranjuez and Fantasia on various CFP, Decca Originals and Philips-Mercury recordings.
This EMI reissue offers a wide variety of solo instruments – guitar, violin, cello, harp, flute and piano – and a range of styles. None of Rodrigo’s other works are mere clones of Aranjuez; the somewhat angular Concierto Heroico for piano, in particular, is very different, though you might spot the dreamier moments of the slow movement as the work of Rodrigo. In four movements and running to over 30 minutes, it’s the longest piece here and the powerful finale in particular makes a fitting conclusion to the second CD and to the set as a whole. I’d only ever heard it once or twice before and it hadn’t made a great impression. This Osorio/Bátiz performance has changed my mind and I expect to be listening to it quite frequently in future.
There’s very little of value that I can add to Rob Barnett’s review of the relevant items in the Brilliant box; if you follow the hyperlink above, I agree with every word of what he says, except for our slightly differing estimates of the value of the Fantasia para un gentilhombre. This EMI reissue would be my ideal Rodrigo recording were it not for the omission of the Fantasia and, perhaps, Concierto madrigal. Its main rival at around the same price on DG does include them (2 CDs, 469 190 2, Narciso Yepes, the Romeros), an older recording but one that has worn well. Better still, go for the Brilliant box while it is still to be had. More recently, EMI may have ended up doing something similar by licensing a number of their vintage opera recordings, including Furtwängler’s Tristan und Isolde, to Brilliant. Watch out for my review of that set.
The presentation, in EMI’s Twentieth Century Classics house style, is attractive. The booklet contains a minimal set of notes. I’m sure that Rodrigo novices could have done with a good deal more. The cover under-sells the contents by including just four named works. Were the Concierto de estío and Concierto en modo galante not thought worth naming?
Brian Wilson


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