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A Guitar for Segovia
Alonso MUDARRA (ca.1510-1580)
Tres Libros de Música en cifra para víhuela (1546) [8:10]
Santiago de MURCIA (1673-1739)
Folías Italianas despacio; Folías Españolas (1730) [11:47]
Maurice OHANA (1913-1992)
Tiento (1957) [4:38]
Variazioni attraverso i secoli, Op. 71 (1932) [9:31]
Manuel PONCE (1882-1948)
Diferencias sobre la folía de España y fuga (1932) [24:50]
Frank MARTIN (1890-1974)
Quatre Pièces Brèves (1933) [9:43]
Javier Somoza (guitar)
rec. 2016, Auditorio Conde Duque, Madrid

Segovia and the classical guitar are inextricably linked. In the case of this disc the programme also coheres around the Spanish dance La Folía. The music of Mudarra and Murcia does not feel preciously antique. Javier Somoza's Santos Hernandez guitar (1924) gives this music a liquid plangency that verges on the romantic. This is delightful music-making rather than a museum-piece in sound.

Two composers of the 16th and 17th centuries next join company with four twentieth century figures. Murcia's Folías seems very closely in anticipatory contact with Rodrigo's Fantasía para un Gentilhombre. The little Maurice Ohana piece is the most extreme outlier in the twentieth century group. Gerardo Arriaga in his liner-note had good cause to remind me (tell me) that Ohana had written a dozen works for guitar. His Tiento is saturated in moody Iberian atmosphere - more shadows than dazzling light. As for Frank Martin's Quatre Pièces Brèves they are polished miniatures - not desperately emotional - but they do grip the attention. Segovia eventually decided that Martin's idiom was too dissonant for his taste and never played them. The dissonances are there but they are artfully woven in and their presence is "gentled away" by the instrument and by Somoza's playing. It will be recalled that Martin did not stop at the classical Spanish guitar. His Villon setting Poèmes de la Mort (1969-71) is for male voices and electric guitars, three of each.

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Variations à travers les siècles are from a year earlier than the Martin. They consist of a Chaconne and five variations including three waltzes and a Fox-Trot. It's a lovingly cool, considered and delightfully reflective work - a serenade of the muses. This composer took an even more generous interest in the instrument and wrote several works for it including two concertos and a Lorca-based piece (Romancero Gitano) incorporating a part for the guitar. Ponce, whose orchestral music has been celebrated by Sterling, also wrote a magnificent guitar concerto, the Concierto Del Sur, recorded in a celebrated version by John Williams and André Previn (CBS-Sony) and before that by Segovia. There's also a more recent version from Alfonso Moreno by ASV. The main Ponce piece here Diferencias sobre la folía de España y fuga is from around the same time as the Martin but shares the beguiling world of the Castelnuovo-Tedesco. It's the longest continuous work here.

This is a harmoniously documented, well filled and most enjoyable disc. It presents recordings made in a hall the acoustic of which suits Somoza's sound-world.

Rob Barnett



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