Spanish Guitar Works
Though the album has no title it is another celebration of late-romantic Spanish music; if there are a good many very familiar items in the programme, versions of them have yet to proliferate on CD, and there are also several others that have been neglected, even on LP. If you deplore the transfer of the piano music of Albeniz and Granados to the guitar, remember that Albeniz did not, and that guitarists have contributed more than pianists toward keeping it afloat—not least on record. You would be stony-hearted indeed if you were not charmed by Fernandez's playing of the five selections here. The rest is original guitar music. Miguel Llobet's settings of Catalan folk-songs (different in character from 'Spanish Spanish' ones) never overdress their subjects and to have six of them segue is as uncommon as it is pleasant. Five of Tarrega's 15 Preludes is, too, a generous slice of the total; little pieces they may be but they are beautifully wrought, fond remembrances of the age of the salon, and only the Recuerdos (once termed, by a Frenchman, ''La Marseillaise des guitaristes'') has suffered overexposure. Segovia was always far more diffident about his own compositions (even more so about playing them) than he need have been. Most of them were dedicated to friends—''Neblina'', for instance, is inscribed to Olga Coelho, the singer for whom Villa-Lobos adapted the Aria from Bachianas brasileiras No. 5 for guitar accompaniment, and it has been recorded only once before by Laurindo Almeida, over 30 years ago. The pieces by Turina are familiar territory.
Fernandez plays all his composers with refined musicality and an affection that is reflected in the warmth and beauty of his sound; these are performances that may be enjoyed for their eloquence, even by those who neither know nor (properly) care about the technical problems of guitar playing, Decca have done him proud in the quality of their recording of them. An outstanding release indeed.'