Latin-American Music for Guitar
Manuel María PONCE (1882-1948)
Celedonio ROMERO (1913-1996)
Tango Angelita [2:23]
Leo BROUWER (b.1939)
Canción de cuna [4:46]
Manuel María PONCE
Guitar Sonata No.3: II. Chanson: Andantino molto espressivo [4:39]
Jorge MOREL (b.1931)
Al Maestro [10:08]
Agustín BARRIOS MANGORÉ (1885-1944)
La catedral [9:43]
Roberto CANTORAL (b.1935)
El reloj (arr. V. Coves) [3:31]
Sebastián IRADIER (1809-1865)
La Paloma (arr. V.Coves) [5:59]
Vicente COVES (b.1982)
Agustín BARRIOS MANGORÉ
Vals, Op.8 No.4 [5:41]
Ariel RAMIREZ (b.1921)
Alfonsina y el mar (arr. V. Coves) [3:28]
Ástor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Chiquilín de Bachín* (arr. V. Coves) [6:34]
Vicente Coves (guitar) with *Enrique Morente (vocal), *Horacio Ferrer (narrator) and *Esteban Ocaña (piano)
rec. 2009, Granada, Spain; *June 2005, Seville, Spain. DDD
NAXOS 8.572527 [67:04]
The key to this recording is in the small phrase that ends the booklet: “Vicente Coves wishes to dedicate this recording to his mother and the memory of his father”. For me it made everything clear. For the most part, this is a disc of tender, caring, quiet music - very beautiful and played with ultimate sensitivity and compassion.
It starts with Ponce’s Preludio, which does not foretell what will follow. This piece, with the momentum of a Bach courante, stands apart from the rest, which is more relaxed, more melancholic, and more Latin. This is the short busy morning, which leads us into a long and quiet evening. There we hear another of Ponce’s creations, the beautiful, wistful Chanson from his Third Sonata; Coves sings every note.
There are two pieces by Celedonio (“Papa”) Romero. Guasa is like a big music-box: a mechanical melody spins over ostinato arpeggios in the bass. This cheerful note-weaving resembles the music of Joaquín Rodrigo. Tango Angelita is a mainstream tango (not from the nuevo branch), in passionate purple hues.
From purple we move to the lightest blue in Brouwer’s charming lullaby. Its soft rocking motion is lit by a smile. Coves plays with care, as if sculpting the music out of thin air. Al Maestro by Morel, a tribute to Celedonio Romero, is the longest work on the disc. It is a nebula of static disjoint splashes, out of which emerge stormy or toccata-like episodes, only to dissolve back into the pensive mist. El reloj by Roberto Cantoral is a beautiful, calm song of the mood-fixing kind - that one that you can put on Repeat indefinitely.
La catedral by Agustín Barrios Mangoré is one of the most beautiful pieces written for guitar. Its first part, Saudade, has the fragile, plaintive ‘ting-a-ling’ of a Bach siciliana. The simplicity of design and the harmonic sequence reminds me of the C-Major Prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier but moved to a minor key. The middle part, Andante religioso, continues with a blend of Latin sadness and Bachian transparency. It is meditative and spacious, like the interior of a cathedral. The work ends with tempestuous runs of Allegro solemne, the parallel of the C-minor Prelude from the WTC.
I don’t know what Iradier’s famous La Paloma is doing in a Latin-American collection. Maybe the guitarist or one of the disc’s dedicatees had a sentimental spot for it. Anyway, this sweet and sensual habañera fits there perfectly. The reading is rather slow and a bit “tipsy”, savoring the notes like good wine. It is long on good-feeling longueurs, those you don’t want to end.
Vicente Coves is a composer himself, and his Chelitango is proof of his composing prowess. It is a complex piece, with the mood ranging between melancholic and tragic. The first theme is tender and reflective, as in Piazzolla’s Adios Nonino. Then we move to more agitated episodes. Again, we meet some familiar Piazzolla strokes, when the music of wind and rain gives way to a sad smile, like a shy sunbeam. In his liner-note, Coves writes about Piazzolla and how difficult it is “to avoid, albeit partially, his influence and to find a new path after his work”. I think he did very well. This is beautiful music, and the composer himself plays it as no one else.
Barrios’s Saudades appear through the golden-threaded fabric in a structure that is tripartite. Chopinesque spinning in the outer parts frames a more reflective middle episode.
Alfonsina y el mar is a poignant, sad song made popular by Mercedes Sosa and Nana Mouskouri. Then it was taken up by virtually everybody from Plácido Domingo to Shakira. And this is understandable: it is hard to pass by such a touching and memorable melody, a true sister of Manhã de Carnaval. The arrangement by Coves is gentle and dreamy.
The last track takes the form of a rough reveille; not a well-judged decision. The guitarist is joined by a pianist, a singer, and a narrator - the latter being none other than the poet Horacio Ferrer himself, the Ira Gershwin of the tango nuevo. The booklet does not provide the texts, and though Internet helps to locate the lyrics, it can’t help with the words spoken by Ferrer at the beginning of the track. This famous tango-waltz has everything one loves in Piazzolla: a terrific melody and undisguised emotions, like an open heart bleeding in the evening smoke. The singer Enrique Morente comes from the world of modern flamenco singing, and brings the guttural, unpolished manner that adds to the feeling of sincerity and expression. Comparing to Piazzolla’s own recordings, this one is closer to the “rough” approach of Amelita Baltar than to the laid-back singing of Roberto Goyeneche, which is probably more “Argentinean” - in the old tango tradition. I like the way it is arranged and performed. The problem is, this number is too different from the remainder of the program, and does not follow it naturally. It feels alien. I would prefer to have it as part of a different program of more edgy pieces. In the present case please leave me in my sweet dream!
Vicente Coves was a student of Pepe Romero, and it shows. His technique is excellent, his command of the sound is absolute, and he plays just beautifully. The amount of extra-musical noise is minimal. The recording is faithful and spacious, and preserves well the aura of the guitar. All in all, this is a lovely recording, but be prepared for a bump at the end.
Very beautiful music, played with ultimate sensitivity and compassion.