Spanish composer Tomás Marco has a formidable musical
and intellectual pedigree. He has published many books, including
a Spanish-language history of 20th century music and the Spanish
avant-garde. His teachers include Maderna, Boulez, Ligeti, Adorno
On that basis, the would-be listener could be forgiven for expecting
a rather modernistically-inclined musical experience in this
recital by Italian guitarist Marcello Fantoni, but that is not
in fact the case. All three works on this bountiful CD, from
the minute Presto Mormorando to the massive 22 Tarots brim with
interest and attractiveness. Add to this memorable melodies,
atmospheric harmonies, suave surges of animation and nostalgic
moods. It all adds up to an irresistible recital that should
appeal to most tastes, from those who know their Tárrega
or Pujol to the general listener who enjoys Bream or Segovia.
Marco is a prolific composer, but perhaps rather surprisingly
has not written a great deal for solo guitar. This one CD constitutes
about a third of his output. Concrete up-to-date information
on his music is hard to come by, but he appears to have written
little, if anything, for the guitar since these works.
The 22 Tarots are an outstanding collection of short pieces,
one for each of the occultist's trump cards. Marco allows the
items to be played singly or together, in any order. He mischievously
suggests they be played in the order determined by Fate itself,
as the cards are turned! Juan Carlos Laguna recorded them all
in the Nineties for the Urtext Digital Classics label. Here
Fantoni, somewhat curiously - perhaps not wishing to tempt fate!
- has chosen to play them in the same order. At any rate, Marco
delves deep into his imagination to produce a panoply of evocative
characterisations all condensed into two minute packets. Why
these pieces are not heard all the time and everywhere is anyone's
guess - there cannot be an audience that is too sophisticated
or too ingenuous to appreciate these little gems.
Despite its title, the Sonata de Fuego ('Sonata of Fire') is
not especially igneous. The four movements each bear a fire-related
title: 'Agni' (Hindu god of fire), 'Fiammetta' (literally 'little
flame'; possibly a reference to Pentecost or Boccaccio), 'Rescoldo'
('embers') and 'Llamarada' ('flare-up'). Marco wrote the work
for the Spanish guitarist Gabriel
Estarellas, who recorded it twice in the early Nineties,
on Arambol A91002 and Caskabel CD-108, the latter a double disc
of what was at the time - and still nearly is - Marco's complete
works for solo guitar. This is another fine composition, atmospherically
darker than the Tarots. It is varied, colourful and melodious
enough - the second movement is almost Giuliani-like - to find
its way into any good guitarist's programme.
Sound quality is very acceptable. Fantoni's breathing occasionally
intrudes, but is only really noticeable via headphones. The
intelligent Italian-English-German-French booklet notes consist
of an introduction to Marco by Fantoni, information on the works
by Marco, and a short but informative biography of both Fantoni
Those who find their appetites whetted by this excellent CD
can turn to another recent release, this time on Naxos: José
Serebrier, still going strong well into his seventies, conducting
three of Marco's Symphonies (8.572684). Further back there was
a Verso anthology (review).
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk.