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A Celebration of the Spanish Guitar
Joaquin RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Concierto de Aranjuez [22:29]

Fantasia para una gentilhombre [20:49]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Carmen Suite No. 1 (excerpts) [6:12]
Salvador BACARISSE (1898-1963)
Romanza from Concertino in A minor [5:53]
Federico Moreno TORROBA (1891-1982)
Sonatina in A [
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Barber of
Seville Overture [7:03]
Rolando Saad (guitar)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Fuat Mansurov
rec. Angel Studios, London, December 2007
RPO SP015 [74:19] 
Experience Classicsonline

The Fantasia para una gentilhombre is by far the strongest work on this disc: the orchestral playing is graceful and refined, and suitably small-scale, while Rolando Saadís playing is on-the-mark and collaborative. The Torroba Sonatina is quite charming in its own way, especially the alluring opening allegretto. The slow movement is appealingly romantic though the finaleís odd harmonics jolt the mood somewhat. Bacarisseís Romanza sounds a bit like the accompaniment to a love scene in a film: the music doesnít do an awful lot, but itís pleasant on the ear.

Thatís where the good news ends, though, because the Concierto de Aranjuez is one of the poorest Iíve come across. The guitar playing in the first movement is ridiculously ragged. There are fluffed entries and poor time-keeping from Saad who struggles to maintain the pace, often distorting the rhythm of the piece out of all proportion. His fingers simply donít have the pace or energy to collaborate with the other musicians and he is made to sound decidedly rough. There are even a few un-looked for fluffs in the slow movement. Why on earth werenít these fixed in the studio edit? The sound, particularly in the slow movement, is far too closely miked, right next to the ear-drum with no room to breathe. The Carmen excerpts feel a bit pointless (no guitar!) and the tempi are much too leaden to let the music take off. The Barber overture begins with energy, but the tempi in the allegro section are all over the place: Mansurov seems unable to decide whether he is speeding up or slowing down at times. 

The orchestral contribution is certainly fine, but there are too many flaws for this disc to be viable. A disappointment.

Simon Thompson



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