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Jacob Cordover (guitar)
rec. January-February 2016, St Andrew’s Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire, UK
CALA CACD77022 [74:28]

Australian guitarist Jacob Cordover discusses his family’s Sephardic Jewish ancestry in the notes for his latest Cala disc, and ascribes its programme to his younger self and to the musical journey on which that self-embarked. He now lives in Barcelona and has compiled a sequence of mostly much-loved pieces – in his words ‘lyrical, beautiful, passionate and evocative’. Modestly – but, to a critic, disarmingly – he eschews comparison to the many great guitarists who have recorded this repertoire. It helps this cause somewhat, therefore, that he has been responsible for six arrangements thus making direct comparison with other performances less pressing a matter.

That said, a sterner critic than I would have wanted to know more about the music and the composers. Coming across contemporary French guitarist-composer Roland Dyens isn’t an everyday event, even for a guitar recital and though Barrios (or Barrios Mangoré, depending on preference) is much better-known, a popular disc such as this might have helped the listener coming fresh to this repertoire.

Barrios Mangoré’s Vals is a supple and rhythmic opus full of deft colour in this agile performance whilst Dyens’ piece is a flavoursome tango. The Albéniz quartet is very much a Greatest Hits selection but Cordover performs them all in his own arrangements so they stand somewhat apart from the mainstream of performances on disc. That said, Cordover stresses the lyricism and clement side of the pieces. Turning to the standard performances of Segovia and Bream reveals an absorption in colouristic voicings, conversational palette, and vivid characterisation. Cordover’s approach is certainly sensitively shaped but he prioritises the intimate and languorous over the evocative.

It’s good to encounter Villa-Lobos’ inventive Prélude No.1 over which Cordover doesn’t linger unnecessarily but to which he devotes a rhythmically persuasive nuance. That said, the almost tragic implications explored by Segovia, with his vibrato at its most extraordinary, are not part of the young Australian’s conception. In the middle of the recital, he throws in the buskers’ favourite, Stanley Myers’ Cavatina which was used in The Deer Hunter, which he plays in his own arrangement. Granados, Tárrega and Leo Brouwer are also part of the musical landscape of this album – the last named in particular is idiomatically performed. To end, Cordover mines popular song. Takemitsu’s famous arrangement of the Lennon and McCartney Here, There and Everywhere is pleasurably done, and Cordover kicks back with arrangements of Georgia on My Mind and Summertime to dilute the largely Iberian nature of the disc.

This is a well recorded disc, then, of autobiographical resonance, and a musical manifesto of the allure of (mainly) Spanish and Latin American music. And some fun extras.

Jonathan Woolf

Agustín BARRIOS MANGORÉ (1885-1944)
Vals Op.8 No.4 [4:17]
Roland DYENS (b.1955)
Tango en Skaï [2:51]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Sevilla (Sevillanas) arr. Jacob Cordover [5:14]
Granada (Serenata) arr. Jacob Cordover [5:29]
Asturias (Leyenda) arr. Jacob Cordover [6:44]
Tango Op.165 No.2 arr. Jacob Cordover [2:40]
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Prelude No. 1 [5:33]
Stanley MYERS (1930-1993)
Cavatina from The Deer Hunter arr. Jacob Cordover [3:40]
Leo BROUWER (b.1939)
Canción de cuna (Berceuse) [3:28]
Ojos brujos [2:14]
Francisco TÁRREGA (1852-1909)
Recuerdos de la Alhambra [5:26]
Capricho árabe (Serenata) [5:05]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Adiós Nonino arr. Máximo Diego Pujol [6:53]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Spanish Dance No.5 arr. Jacob Cordover [4:59]
John LENNON (1940-1980) and Paul McCARTNEY (b.1942)
Here, There and Everywhere arr. Toru Takemitsu [3:09]
Hoagy CARMICHAEL (1899-1981)
Georgia On My Mind arr. Börge Sandquist [2:59]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Summertime arr. Ebe Ken-ichi [3:41]



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