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Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Songs with Guitar Accompaniment

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]
José Ferrero (tenor)
Marco Socías (guitar)
rec. Auditorio del Conservatorio Profesional Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco, Albacete, Spain, May 2015
NAXOS 8.573548 [66.53]

This recording is a significant addition to the ongoing series of CDs of Rodrigo issued by Naxos. It is also a fine tribute to José Ferrero, who died suddenly in March of this year, aged only 43. Though he had a special interest in Baroque music, he was, at the time of his death, broadening into other roles in the Italian repertory (Cavaradossi in Tosca, for example) and Wagner (Froh in the Ring and Erik in Der fliegende Holländer). On the evidence of the present disc, dedicated to his memory, he was a tenor of great artistry with an informed sensitivity to the lyrics, clarity of diction and depth of emotional range.

Listen, for example, to the Preludio to Con Antonio Machado. The original cycle has ten songs, of which seven appear on the current disc (arranged by Marco Socías for guitar). In Ferrero’s delivery, there is nothing hectoring, but a gentleness, which recurs several times throughout the recital. These works, originally premiered for soprano and piano, are melodic but gently reflective.

Rodrigo wants the phrases to tell, reflectively, which means that interpretation has to move beyond the beauties of sound. A notable feature of Rodrigo’s approach to song is the variety of verse sources, but also a humility towards the original poetry. One senses the subordination to meaning – the verse is not, as with some composers, simply a vehicle for virtuosity. The composer is not afraid to be simple – and throughout, the artistry is stronger for it, provided, as here, that the interpreters work with and within that vision. Appreciation is augmented by attention to the verse – which means downloading them from the Naxos website. Though this practice of separate downloading has become common, it is a nuisance, especially for full appreciation of the music.

Many of the songs were originally written for other instruments (those asterisked), but they have been arranged, with the approval of the composer’s daughter, by Marco Socías. The new accompaniments work very well, capturing the essence of Rodrigo’s idiom.

Overall, then, this is a fine recording, well worth investigating.

Michael Wilkinson



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