Tomás MARCO (b.1942)
Works for Guitar
22 Tarots (1991) [50:51]
Presto Mormorando (1996) [1:25]
Sonata de Fuego (1990) [27:03]
Marcello Fantoni (guitar)
rec. Artika Studio, Milan, 24-25 April 2010; Church of Santa Chiara Nuova, Lodi, Italy, 4 July 2011 (Sonata). DDD
DYNAMIC CDS 708 [79:24]
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 and Stockhausen.
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 and Marco.
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.
An irresistible recital that should appeal to most tastes.