Sanz Guitar Works
The guitar, through its association with dance and other forms of lewdness, considered an instrument of the Devil? Sound familiar? Only this is Espagna, not Elvis. 17th century Spain, when the courtly vihuela, that prince of plucked instruments, lit the way to the intimate discourses of the heart in an acceptably genteel fashion and the guitar was unspeakably vulgar.
Gaspar Sanz was a guitarist and composer of genius who managed to bridge the gap between popular culture and art music; his technical innovations extended the polyphonic capabilities of the Baroque guitar while not for a moment forsaking its sensual side. Thus Gordon Ferries in his recital festoons a central suite of more courtly dances with the ecstatic clamouring of Jácaras, Canarios, Zarabanda, Marionas, Pasacalles and Villano – largely sets of variations wherein he carefully manages the tension through the skilful deployment of strumming, ornament and variety of tone. The percussive effects of the rasgueado technique combined with the harp-like campanella are particularly convincing. There’s really no need to enhance Sanz’s music by adding other instruments as the brilliant José Miguel Moreno and others have done previously.
Ferries’s richly detailed booklet-notes echo his recital by being a perfect blend of facts, intellectual speculation and gentle humour; indeed, the package gives you an insight into a cultural milieu where things weren’t so different from ours after all.