Gerhard: Six Cantares

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Gerhard,Rodrigo,Sor
LABELS: Somm
WORKS: Gerhard: Six Cantares; Rodrigo: 3 Spanish Songs; 3 Villancicos; Coplas Del Pastor Enamorado; Folias Canarias; Romance de Durandarte; Aranjuez, ma pensée; Sor: 12 Seguidillas
PERFORMER: Patricia Rozario (soprano), Craig Ogden (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: SOMMCD 078

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Considering how universal is the combination of voice and plucked strings in music-making, recitals such as this are strikingly rare. It’s as though classical composers, with a few honourable exceptions, have left that genre to other traditions. Even here the repertoire is marginal for all its beauties.

Rodrigo contributes folk settings and original songs, two of the latter bringing the disc to a strong close: one late and spare, with Patricia Rozario holding back her vibrato over a guitar pedal and subtly timed imitations, and the other using the slow-movement melody from the Concierto de Aranjuez which draws a generous eloquence.

The opening set sounds less convincing. Gerhard over-eggs his folk tunes with busy accompaniments in which Craig Ogden at least enjoys himself, while Rozario manages to keep it straight through some cringe-making texts but rarely goes beyond decorous elegance – the main exception being a deathbed song, delivered with touching inwardness.

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Sor’s 12 Seguidillas are another matter. Mainly songs of disillusion, sometimes witty, they embody a 200-year-old fusion style recalling Domenico Scarlatti’s mix of the local and the classical, while in several instances aware of Mozart’s way with melodic lines. Rozario is in her element, finely phrased and delicately nuanced, and Ogden responds with unforced vitality. Robert Maycock