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Regino SAINZ de la MAZA (1896-1981)
Eduardo SAINZ de la MAZA (1903-1982)
Complete Music for Guitar
Salvatore Fortunato (guitar)
rec. 2020 Genzano di Roma, Italy
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95417 [78:58 + 57:20]

In the annals of classical music, those who excelled in their crafts of composition and performance hold pre-eminent positions. In the world of the classical guitar the surname Sainz de la Maza similarly enjoys such status.

The siblings, Regino and Eduardo Sainz de la Maza, were separated by seven years in age, but died within one year of each other. The elder, Regino , composed an important corpus of guitar works with a particularly strong Spanish flavour, and which are highly idiomatic to the instrument. He held the distinction of being the first Professor of Guitar at the Madrid Conservatorium. It was to him that Rodrigo dedicated the famed Concierto de Arnajuez; Regino was the first to make a recording of this masterpiece for guitar and orchestra. Eduardo Sainz de la Maza also left an important legacy of original works and arrangements for guitar. His style was very different, being influenced by jazz and composers such as Ravel and Debussy. It has been suggested that, because of being overwhelmed by his brother’s talents, Eduardo took up study of the cello, and only played the guitar privately.

The rather parsimonious liner notes claim the Sainz la Maza brothers to be ‘the greatest exponents of the guitar in the 1900s.’ Whether the intention here is to identify them as champions in supporting and promoting the instrument or, in the case of Regino, as a performer, in either case the claim is ill-founded. Unlike his brother, there is ample recorded evidence of Regino as a guitarist. Relative to his contemporaries, such as Andrés Segovia, at best he can be considered mediocre. Although he played with finger nails, his strong interests in horticulture, and related lack of fingernail care, resulted in a very poor tone associated with his playing, the exact antithesis of Segovia. The latter dedicated his entire life to global concertizing and expanding the guitar repertory through compositions by recognized composers. Though certainly not a prolific composer of guitar music, among Segovia’s modest opus are some absolute gems.

The compositions of both the Sainz de la Maza brothers hold a special place in the guitar repertory, each for different reasons. Examples are prevalent in both the concert programmes and recordings of renowned recitalists. That the complete opus of the brothers is to be found on these recordings is an initiative to be appreciated by guitarists and aficionados. Previous recordings have only focussed on the definitive works of Regino. Interestingly, Segovia never recorded any music by the Sainz de la Maza brothers. One may conjecture that he deemed it of insufficient quality, but then he treated the music of Barrrios in exactly the same way, and totally ignored the Concierto de Aranjuez.
Salvatore Fortunato was born in Genzano di Roma in 1990. He earned his first class degree at the conservatory ‘Ottorino Respighi’ in Latinaio. He also has a degree in Chamber Music from the conservatory ‘Licino Refice’ de Frosinone. His tutelage includes such luminaries as Oscar Ghiglia, Paola Pegoraro and Massimo Delle Cese, among others. In 2014, at Palazzo Corsini, in Rome, he was awarded best young artist by ‘International Critics Award-Le Cattedrali Letterarie Europee’. He is currently guitar professor at ’Accademia Chitarristica Castelli Romani.’
Whether or not a musician of a particular ethnicity plays the music of his fellow-countrymen better than foreign musicians, is moot; for a variety of reasons it is generally dismissed as invalid. That said, an element of credibility for the concept emerges in auditioning these recordings. One of the most favoured exponents of this music is the Venezuelan, Alirio Diaz, also a student of Regino. Less-known and revered, is the great Jose Luis Gonzalez (Julia) who also recorded a number of these pieces by both composers. In closely comparing the latter with the offerings by Salvatore Fortunato, something becomes increasingly obvious. A native of Alcoy, Spain, Gonzalez’s interpretations have a strong Spanish flavour; probably the most profound example is his rendition of Rondena by Regino. In the hands of Gonzalez, the music comes alive with a Spanish accent and passion that is challenging to describe; it is by far the best to be found on recordings. In contrast, interpretations by Fortunato are markedly different, and may be justifiably described as in an ‘Italian’ style. The approach is certainly more academic than that of the Master from Alcoy. Some may develop an affinity for the interpretative approach of Fortunato, especially if they have not heard the now-deleted recordings by Gonzalez. Fortunately, gems by Gonzalez such as Study in A minor (CD1, 13) and Idilio (CD1, 17) may be accessed via YouTube. As well as being a fellow countryman, Gonzalez was also a private student of Regino Sainz de la Maza for more than six years.

These definitive recordings of the Sainz del la Maza brothers’ compositions are a valuable addition to the recorded history of the guitar. Salvatore Fortunato is a capable and sensitive guitarist who performs well in these recording. Those strongly focussed on past interpretations by the Spanish masters, such as Jose Luis Gonzalez, may be have less affinity for the interpretations here.

Zane Turner
Disc 1
Regino Sainz de la Maza
Alegrias [4:05]
Zapateado [2:36]
Cantilena [1:45]
Seguidilla-Sevillana [1:44]
Scherzo [2:20]
Preludio-Studio [1:36]
Solea [3:30]
Rondena [4:07]
Cuatro Obras Originales [5:46]
Estudio en La Menor [1:05]
Petenera [2:40]
La Frontera de Dios [10:54]
Estudio-Scherzo [1:58]
Canciones Castellanas[5:08]
EL Vito [1:28]
Laberinto (Eduardo) [4:23]
Platero y yo (Eduardo) [23:18]

Disc 2
Eduardo Sainz de la Maza
Bolero [5:17]
3 Stucke fur Gitarre [6:35]
Preludio [5:46]
Anoranza Lejana 2:07]
Confidencia [3:58]
Homenaje a la Guitara 6:15]
Homenaje a Toulouse-Lautrec [5:13]
Homenaje a Hayden [3:22]
Habanera [3:09]
Evocacion Criolla [4:57]
Sonando Caminos [4:57]
Campanas del Alba [5:18]

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