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NUC MED TECH
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03-01-2014 Spanish guitar music, with a Germanic soloist? An English chamber orchestra? No conductor? The Concierto de Aranjuez? Is this possible? Think again, why not? The London based Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in this DDD 1989/90 DGG release, includes the Fantasia para Gentilhombre and a guitar concerto by Villa-Lobos. The Concierto de Aranjuez runs a normal 22:19 and was written in 1939, 2 years before Hollywood released the Hemmingway drag of a "classic" For Whom the Bell Tolls, with it's dull and painfully endless love scenes between Gar Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. The music's adagio always reminds me of this dud, but I also see the C/A as a good, but not great concerto. I doubt there really are any "great" ones out there, as this form really grew up from the drawing rooms of the French and English Enlightenment, with modernity infusing it with "passion". I prefer a more objective approach and that is what Mr. Sollscher gives us. He is delicately restrained and utterly tasteful in his technique.
Sollscher's opening movement is spirited as indicated, but certainly not excessively so. Our soloist sounds as if he is, and like truly is, surrounded by the orchestra members, with DGG's engineers giving us a properly measured soundstage and a realistic sense of depth, not at all cavernous, but manageable in every way. Far too many Adagios get treated as "Valencian liebestods," The straight forward approach used herffe is refreshing as I have grown impatient with all hte four-handed angst of this central movement, lasting a sufficient 10:50. ( you need two hands, of course, to play, leaving you twp to wring, L.O.L. ).
Please don't misunderstand me, I do enjoy the many highly emotive and "personal" readings thisa music has had, but I just like to hear a more believable and international performance, that is all. The C/A is not, nor has it ever been Spanish "private property," and IF it is a "great" work, which I do not think it is, then it should be able to stand up to an unconventional and "soft-grind" interpretation. The more I hear this work, the more I like and admire the finale, a bright, sun-splashed Allegro gentile. The "gentile" connotation pertains moe, I think, to the absence of attacks, and explosiveness we often find in concerto finales. it is appropriately peppy, light and bubbly. For even more of this flavor, consider her Serenata for Harp and orchestra, written for the Spanish king of the "lyre" Nicanor Zabbeletta, as it's 1st movement is a gem. The interplay between the OCO and the solist is note and pitch perfect. This is the best of the 3 movements and concludes this beautiful piece in elegance and with great ease. A very nice and pleasantly presented work, and a suprise for all you Spanophiles out there in "romanceville.
I learned the Fantasia par Gintilhombre a very long time ago, simultaneously with the C/A but never cared much for it, compared to it's far more popular sibling. Frankly, my taste havn't changed at all, as it is true that this rather well written composition has labored for decades in the shadow of THE concerto for guitar and orchestra.. The Fantasia ruins a tad lobnger than the CA, but the same qualities apply as in the Concierto. Beautiful conversation, and delicate balancing, a bit remarkable giving the fact that this project lacks an out front conductor. Thiese performance struck me as exceptional, even though I have and enjoy several I Musici efforts of Vivaldi concerti, often for "diverse instruments." But, I guess the inclusion of instruments other than all strings, as in this OCO, sort of up the ante, and demonstrate the wonderful Chamber Orchestra's talents and spirit of music-making. These recording sessions must of been a delight and darn fun, and I will search for more from the OCO in the concertante world. It really IS their show, more so than Sollscher's, because if they fail to deliver, the whole thing becomes a bore. Happily, these musicians DO deliver and so far, we have a quite good CD.
Ideally, this CD should of contained that Cincierto Serenatta for Harp and orchestra for a much more appealing package, but we get a guitar concerto by Villa-Lobs, of whom I know nothing. Aside from being the birthplace of a very fine pianist, Horatio Guttierez, and THE best in Socceer, Brazil has yet to "catch up" with the rest of the Classical music world, though thery do have a smattering of darn good Symphony Orchestras. Villa-Lobos's guitar concerto was written at the behest of Andres Segovia, in 1951, but had to wait till 1956 before Segovia gave the premiere with the composer conducting. The reaso? A lack of a cadenza, which the composer finally appended to the end of the Andantino middle movement. This is a short work, running time of 19:01 and it is concise, compact and generally upbeat. There is some dazzling work for all here and the same conversational perspectives in the Rodrigo pieces on this disk carry over to this concerto. As I type away on this chilly Saturday morning, this concerto is receiving it's "maiden spin", and thus far, I like what I am hearing. In this work, Sollscher's instrument has a bolder and more resonant tone to it, parhaps attributable to my gross ignorance of Brzilian classical music Perhaps it is the instrument itself. This is very beautiful music, intimate and sweetly rendered. The Orpheus winds and horns are mellow and subtle, and there is an alluring seductiveness and reflective quality to this rather nostalgic material. For the purposes of ovall presentation, and perhaps remaining as a strictly Rodrigo album, I would of prefered that Serenatta for the Harp and strings I have mentioned. The cadenza, as appended at this movement's closing is slow and restrained, with a gentle evocativeness I liked very much. I have become interested enough in this music so as to look for more Villa-Lobos on the web and perhaps learn some of his music. The finale is an Allegrettonon troppo, and starts with a soft and leisurely samba like rhythm, sweetly accompanied by the strings. As it progressed I am to a better appreciation of this interesting music, and I guess it's inclusion on this DGG disk is ok, even though I could of had the harp work, I have mentioned so often, Sorry for my persistence. This is a good release and worth collecting. I will give it a well earned 3.75 rating for it's beauty, clarity and instructional quality, at least for me, that is. Happy listening all this winter and may Our Lord bless you all, Tony.