Fandango - Spanish Dances for Guitar
Although the development of the guitar in all its phases has been a general European rather than a specifically Spanish phenomenon, only in Spain has the instrument been an ongoing, integral part of the country's musical culture from the earliest times. Recitals of Spanish music on the guitar are as commonplace as rosettes at a football match, but few have seriously attempted to present a historical overview, using instruments other than the modern guitar; Julian Bream has done it in his ''Music Of Spain'' series on RCA and now the Dutch-born, London-based Tom Kerstens follows suit on a single disc. Whereas Bream began with the vihuela, a lute-related precursor of the guitar, Kerstens starts with the five-course baroque guitar and also uses the romantic nineteenth-century instrument and its more robust, post-Torres, modern form, though not in that order; I can't help thinking that it would have been more effective if he had presented them and their music in chronological order, rather than as they are in this recording, but this is a minor quibble.
There is another difference: Bream's coverage of the early repertory includes purely instrumental forms (fantasia and theme with variations—both with strong Iberian roots) as well as dances. Kerstens focuses on the latter; that other musical staple, the song, is however remembered, not sung but played in the form of five of Miguel Llobet's charming settings of Catalan folk-songs. It is a thoughtfully compiled programme, with a few first-time offerings, and it is both very well played and recorded. Modern guitarists are wont to turn Sanz's Canarios into a gallop; Kerstens does not, but dancers might remind him that it needs to be even slower if they are to retain their balance. A most welcome debut disc.'