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Homages - A Musical Dedication
Joaquin MALATS (1872-1912)
Serenata Española arr. Tarrega [4:38]
Luis de NARVÁEZ (1526-1549)
Diferencias sobre ‘Guárdame las vacas’ [3:26]
Canción del Emperador [3:18]
Miguel LLOBET (1878-1938)
Canço del Lladre [2:07]
El Testamnet d’Amelia [2:18]
Fernando SOR (1778-1839)
Variations on a Scottish Theme; ‘Ye Banks and Braes o’ Bonnie Doon’, Op.40 [9:04]
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Schottish ‘Chôro’ [4:07]
Preludes [21:17]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Homenaje pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy [3:41]
Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949)
Sevillana ‘Fantasia’ [6:21]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Mallorca, Barcarola, Op.202 [7:21]
Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999)
En los Trigales [4:00]
Christoph Denoth (guitar)
rec. 2012, Beethovensaal, Hannover
SIGNUM SIGCD404 [71:46]

As guitarist Christoph Denoth writes in an introductory paragraph to the booklet notes, the tie that binds this programme is that of the homage, whether to a person, a town, or a landscape. The theme is given greater weight in Thérèse Wassily Saba’s full notes where ideas of national identity and personal ideals are explored. The recital concentrates on Iberian and Latin American music stretching as far back as Luis de Narváez in the sixteenth-century and as far forward as Rodrigo in the twentieth, though the greater part was composed in the later period.

Denoth takes a generally rather relaxed approach to tempo, articulation and colour. Even in so evocative a piece as Malats’ Serenata Española he prefers a more leisurely speed, using plenty of rubati. Both Bream and Segovia (in 1954) are much faster, their articulation more incisive and their rhythms more biting. Narváez’s delightful Canción del Emperador brings an attractively voiced performance but, despite the ‘gym shoe’ squeaking, Bream proves an altogether more precise and vivid interpreter, bringing a wealth of light and shade to bear. Denoth is a sympathetic Sor player, though not so extrovert as one may perhaps like. The ‘Ye Banks and Braes’ variations are a test of projection and characterisation, tests Denoth largely passes. The harp imitations are especially well done, and his anticipatory sniffs are caught by a recording which is both warm and close.

Elsewhere, Albéniz’s Mallorca is somewhat rhythmically hidebound – contrast Bream’s athleticism – and Turina’s Sevillana fares better with Bream, once more, because he phrases more idiomatically, and naturally, and vests the music with a greater quotient of virtuosity. I was quite taken, however, with Denoth’s almost breezy approach to Falla’s Debussy homage, Homenaje pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy. He goes light on the tolling motifs that Bream emphasises. The Villa-Lobos Preludes could do with an infusion of Segovian colour and nuance. They sound a bit literal to make a full impression, though there’s no doubt that the Swiss guitarist takes them seriously.

The programming of this recital strikes me as well conceived and the playing is thoughtful, though ultimately lacking in those qualities that elevate the music’s descriptive qualities.

Jonathan Woolf