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Joaquin RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Songs with Guitar Accompaniment
José Ferrero (tenor), Marco Socías (guitar)
rec. Auditorio del Conservatorio Profesional Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco, Albacete, Spain, 9-10 May 2015
Sung texts and translations are available online
NAXOS 8.573548 [66:53]

Naxos have done great things for making available Joaquin Rodrigo’s music to the broad mass of people: the complete orchestral music on ten CDs, the complete piano music, two volumes of guitar music and even some chamber music. Now they have widened the scope to his songs, which is an overlooked genre of his. This CD, with more than an hour of music, is welcome since there are hidden treasures here, and I do hope that it will be an eye-opener to singers – and music-lovers in general. There is, as in all his music, a distinct Spanish flavour and I am sure many will feel at home at once with these songs. I became deeply engaged by the beautiful Pastorcito, a setting of Lope de Vega, and La espera, one of several songs with texts by his wife Victoria Kamhi. Several songs are settings of anonymous poets, including Canción del grumete and Folias canarias, the latter originally written with guitar accompaniment. Otherwise Marco Socias has provided his own transcriptions, which are excellent, as is his playing. The one song that everybody will recognise is Aranjuez, ma pensée, which is a 1988 adaptation for voice and guitar of the adagio from the Concierto de Aranjuez, with a French text by his wife - as lovely as a song as it is in the original. From the Tre canciones españolas (1951) the middle song Adela is truly beautiful and En Jerez de la Frontera tells the same story as Manuel de Falla’s ballet El sombrero de tres picos.

Victoria Kamhi was of Sephardic-Jewish descent and she chose and adapted the texts of Cuatro canciones sefardies, from which we are treated to two songs. The Cuatro madrigals amatorios (Four madrigals of love) are inspired by music from the Spanish Renaissance, and the two songs chosen for this disc are real highlights of the whole disc.

I do urge you to listen to these songs. They are, as I wrote above, hidden treasures. Unfortunately the singing is not quite on that exalted level. Tenor José Ferrero, who sadly died last year, aged 43, has an agreeable voice and sings with deep feeling for both music and texts – as long as he stays within softer nuances. At forte his voice takes on a heavy vibrato and the tone hardens. Aranjuez, ma pensée is shaky and insensitive and there are several other instances where one wishes he had held back instead of killing the song. A lot is, however, sensitive and beautiful and the disc is definitely worth a listen. I will certainly return to many of the songs but avoid others.

Göran Forsling
Previous review: Rob Barnett

Pastorcito santo [2.50]
Coplillas de Belén [1.32]
La espera [4.43]
Con Antonio Machado (excerpts)[19.42]
Canción del grumete [2.22]
Una palomita blanca [1.14]
Folías canarias [2.34]
Romance de Durandarte [4.29]
Coplas del pastor enamorado [4.07]
Serranilla [2.34]
Aranjuez, ma pensée [6.29]
Tres canciones españolas [4.56]
Cuatro canciones sefardíes (excerpts) [4.31]
Cuatro madrigals amatorios (excerpts) [4.38]



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