Eventail Masters of the Spanish Guitar

Author: 
John Duarte

Eventail Masters of the Spanish Guitar

  • Sonata for Guitar
  • Zarabanda lejana
  • (3) Piezas españolas, Fandango
  • Cantos de España, Córdoba
  • Suite española No. 1, No. 5, Asturias (added 1918)
  • (El) Amor brujo, The Magic Circle (The Fisherman's Story)
  • (El) Sombrero de tres picos, Suite No. 2 (Three dances), The Miller's Dance
  • (5) Preludes
  • Sonatina meridional

The musical focus is on the composers who came to Paris from various other countries in the first half of this century. In the quotation on the back of the booklet they become Spanish, though two of them were not and Villa-Lobos’s language was Portuguese. It is a new peg on which to hang a programme of familiar and oft-recorded music, and the omission of Falla’s one original guitar work, the Homenaje, ‘Le tombeau de Claude Debussy’, in favour of arrangements of two pieces from his stage works is hard to justify.
Chassain is equipped with superb technique and is able to realize whatever enters his essentially musical mind – here frequently in its romantic mode. Whilst this creates some passages of ecstatic expressiveness, as in the Sonatina meridional of Ponce, it diminishes the masculinity of the opening gestures of Turina’s Sonata, and the outer sections of the first of Villa-Lobos’s Preludes lose much of their dignified sadness in one of the most protracted (5'47'') versions on record. On the heavily weighted credit side, there are many stunning performances here, often illuminated by revelatory detail, as in Asturias – but why the hesitation before each whiplash chord, disturbing the momentum? The reason can surely not be a technical one! Whilst there is nothing new in the programme itself, the outstanding quality of the playing and the clarity of the musical thought (even when it sometimes goes against the grain) commend it to any serious collector of recorded guitar music.'

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