Joaquín RODRIGO (1901–1999)
Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) [21:06]
Fantasia para un Gentilhombre (1954) [20:53]
Concierto para una fiesta (1983) [26:32]
Alfonso Moreno (guitar)
State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra/Enrique Batiz
rec. San Felipe Villanueva, Mexico City 1994. DDD.
Originally released as ASV CD CDDCA887
REGIS RRC1360 [69:04]

ASV’s sound signature often matched the style and dramatic-assertive colour scheme of their CD booklets and inserts. That’s certainly true here as it was also in their extensive Tjeknavorian and slightly less numerous Yondani Butt-Glazunov series – also the source of a Regis reissue this month (December 2010). Every detail glows or glares and that might well be taken as a reflection of the Mexican locale. It’s satisfying and for me is redolent of the very best traditions of Decca in the early 1970s. The balance and effect reminds me of the Horst Stein/SRO Decca Sibelius recordings.

These Rodrigo concertos are brilliantly lit and the strings while totally satisfying and pin-sharp in focus are not a luxury item. Aranjuez is plangently done and recorded close-up and personal. There is no fog or mist into which the detail can retreat. Every minute sigh, shiver or sliver can be heard. The unforgiving proximity of the microphone array not only brings us nose to nose with the massed violins but also into the guitar’s sound-box – not a bad place to be. Once again this is one of those recordings which apart from its intrinsic pleasures would make an ideal vehicle for score reading. The Fantasia para un Gentilhombre is of a more classical persuasion drawing its sustenance from the romantic shallows and from the Iberian Peninsula’s baroque depths. Concierto para una fiesta was written for and dedicated to Pepe Romero. Dating from 44 years after Aranjuez it returns to slake its thirst in the same cool courtyards. It gazes on fountains and looks out on the sun-baked sierras and out towards the distant seas. It’s an attractive piece though stopping short of the invincible melodic invention that has made Aranjuez a world hit. The Andante calmo central movement immerses itself more deeply in the Moorish exotica touched on in hints and fleeting glimpses in the initial Allegro deciso. Its finale is a searingly volcanic Allegro moderato with much to please. If the ending seems perfunctory what precedes it should not be missed if you have already been captivated by Aranjuez.

There you have it: Rodrigo’s three works for solo guitar and orchestra. He wrote far more for multiples of guitars. The price is low. The performances are neon lit and a delight to hear. The notes written by Hugo Shirley are reasonably full and informative.

Rob Barnett

Price is low, performances neon lit and the music a delight to hear.