Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Los Romeros – Rodrigo Concerti

   Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) who was also virtuoso pianist, could be seen as versatile composer, but guitar was an instrument playing featured role in his creative output. No wonder, born in Valencia composer biggest part of his works set for instrument inevitably linked with Spanish culture. He studied composition under Paul Dukas in Paris. Because he lost his sight in early childhood, he was composing using Braille. It’s interesting he didn’t play this instrument himself. Among many Rodrigo compositions for guitar, highest acknowledgement he owes to concert works for 1, 2 or 4 guitars and orchestra. This was his royal gem since first, written in winter 1939 in Paris – Concierto de Aranjuez. Three movement concerto in neoclassical style is supported by deep emotional contrasts and firmly accented rhythmic structures, but first of all middle part – Adagio remains in memory as sorrow and noble dialogue between guitar and wind instruments. This fragment is one of most popular compositions in last century history of music. Among many renditions one of most important was Miles Davis and Gil Evans recording in Sketches of Spain (1960). Davis said „That melody is so strong that the softer you play it, the stronger it gets, and the stronger you play it, the weaker it gets”. 

Los Romeros – Rodrigo Concerti

   Second popular work by Rodrigo is Fantasía para un gentilhombre composed in 1954 for Spanish virtuoso Andrés Segovia. In it’s formal shape this work has some analogies with the suite. Four movements of this composition are stylized Spanish dances – villano, españoleta, dance of axes and folk dance from Canary Island. In first movement Villano y Ricercare, the second episode is based on short, two-bar phrase repeated in form of ricercare. In this part as well in next movements composer used material from Gaspar Sanz composition. Despite name and formal construction, Fantasía para un gentilhombre sill can be seen as concerto for guitar and orchestra because of strong concerting factor and relations between soloist and orchestra. 
   Concierto Andaluz for four quitars and orchestra has classic three-part structure with opening Tiempo de Bolero. This work was commissioned by Spanish virtuoso Celedonio Romero (1913-1996) and dedicated to him and his sons. Composed in 1968 has its premiere the same year, November 18th in San Antonio, TX. Celedonio Romero and his three sons constitute the famous guitar quartet Los Romeros called „The Royal Family of the Guitar” which became famous performers of Joaquín Rodrigo works. 
   Members of the family were also addressees of Concierto Madrigal completed in 1968 and premiered in Los Angeles in 1970 with Pepe Romero and Angel Romero as soloists. The name of the work came from anonymous Renaissance madrigal Felices ojos mios. Formally it is suite sustained of variations cycle, what helped this concerto freed itself from more usual forming. Double LP set of Los Romeros playing complete works by Joaquín Rodrigo has been published by Philips. Edition contains recordings from two sessions. Concierto de Aranjuez and Concierto Andaluz were recorded in 1968 by Angel Romero and Los Romeros with San Antonio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Victor Allessandro. Concierto Madrigal played by Pepe Romero and Angel Romero with Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner has been recorded in 1975 and Fantasía para un gentilhombre played by Pepe Romero with the same orchestra and conductor has been recorded in 1976. Both records, one with San Antonio Symphony and one with St. Martin and Marriner are classical examples of virtuosity and musical competence.

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