The Spanish Guitar
RON BIERMAN listens to excerpts from previous Naxos releases
The development of the modern guitar was completed by Antonio de Torres
Jurado of Spain in the last half of the nineteenth century and Spanish composers
have contributed more than their fair share of well known works for the
instrument ever since. Many of those works are included in this two CD set
of excerpts from previous Naxos releases. Each selection has a palpable
Spanish flavor in melody, rhythm and style. Almost all are worthwhile and
performances are good to outstanding. Too many of the excerpts though feature
the quieter, more thoughtful side of the style. That makes it difficult
to sustain interest during over two hours of listening.
Norbert Kraft may be the most reliable of the Naxos guitarists and he
has nearly half of the space on this release. His Tárrega, Albéniz
and De Falla performances are fine indeed. Denis Azabagic doesn't play with
quite the same smooth authority, but is more adventurous in choice of repertoire.
He is represented here in pieces by two obscure twentieth century composers
-- Ruiz-Pipó and José. The José is an especially entertaining
find [listen -- CD2 track 7, 2:44-4:00].
Although most pieces are for solo guitar, several include an orchestra.
The most interesting of these is Torroba's Sonatina, originally composed
for Segovia. The Adagio from Rodrigo's popular Concierto de Aranjuez
is heard in a competent performance, but there is too much competition for
Kraft's version to be a first choice even at a lower price. If the
Allegro giocoso based on Breiner's arrangements of themes from
Bizet's Carmen is representative of the work, I can understand why
the recording of the full concerto is no longer available. The excerpt,
perhaps in an attempt at light-heartedness, makes annoying fluff of some
of Bizet's finest melodies.
Album notes are a little sloppy. Tárrega, born in Spain, is listed
as a 'Polish composer'. References to prior Naxos CDs are in a few cases
incorrect with respect to performer or catalog number, so buyers need to
verify contents before they purchase an excerpted CD.
In spite of my reservations, the album is worth the price. It includes
many first-class performances of must-have Spanish music and is a good way
to sample other Naxos recordings lovers of the Spanish guitar will want
to own. Some buyers may prefer going directly to the originals. Kraft's
recital on Naxos 8.553999 includes the best solo pieces from The
Spanish Guitar, but in a better constructed program, and the playing
is outstanding. Those seeking lesser known and more modern works can try
the original Azabagic recital on Naxos 8.554555.
Copyright © 28 December 2002
Ron Bierman, San Diego, California, USA
PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM AMAZON
PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM CROTCHET
The Spanish Guitar - A timeless collection of Spanish Guitar Classics
8.557122-23 COMPILATION (2 CDs) 72'29"/69'24" - TT 141'53" 1989-2001 HNH International Ltd
various - see below
DISC 1: Granados: Danza Española No 5 (solo version - Norbert Kraft); Torroba: Sonatina (Dagoberto Linhares, Camerata Cassovia, Johannes Wildner); Mompou: Suite Compostelana (Antigoni Goni); Bizet, arr Breiner: Allegro giocoso from Carmen Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra (Norbert Kraft, Polish National Radio Symphony / Peter Breiner); Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Tarantella Op 87b (Lorenzo Micheli); Albéniz transcr Kraft: Asturias, Mallorca, Sevilla (Norbert Kraft); Falla: Dance of the Miller from The Three Cornered Hat (Norbert Kraft); DISC 2: Tárrega: Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Norbert Kraft); Sor: Theme and Variations Op 11 (John Holmquist); Granados arr Breiner: Danza Española No 1 (Norbert Kraft, Razumovsky Sinfonia / Peter Breiner); Ruiz-Pipó: Estancias (Denis Azabagic); Antonio José: Sonata: Allegro moderato (Denis Azabagic); Rodrigo: Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez (Norbert Kraft, Northern Chamber Orchestra); Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Escarramán (Lorenzo Micheli); Turina: Fandanguillo, Soleares (Norbert Kraft); Rodrigo: En Los Trigales (Martha Masters); Granados: Danza Española No 5 (orchestral transcription - Norbert Kraft, Razumovsky Sinfonia / Peter Breiner)
Record Box is Music & Vision's
regular Saturday series of shorter CD reviews