LABELS: EMI Eminence
WORKS: Pavana real; Tres viejos aires de danza; Fantasía para un gentilhombre (arr. Galway)
PERFORMER: Rafael Jiménez (guitar), Luis A Cansino (baritone), Lisa Hansen (flute)Mexico State SO/Enrique Bátiz
CATALOGUE NO: CD-EMX 2248
It seems typical of our century that the direct, warm music of a leading Spanish composer should be jointly squeezed out by his own greatest hit and by the fashionably overrated Gerhard. Yet nearly all this century Rodrigo has skilfully presented a near-vernacular immediacy with great poise and polish. Even in the pastiches and arrangements that loom large here, you instantly recognise his soulful way with melodies and his spare, scorching orchestral sound, noonday-bright with woodwind.
In all three works he harks back to Renaissance and Classical models. The parallels are Walton’s Shakespeare scores and Respighi’s ‘early music’ suites. Pavana real’s daft courtly scenario is the excuse for a varied sequence of dances, with brass boldly offset against strings (some vigorous, full-toned playing) and prominent guitar and flute. For the Viejos aires Rodrigo started by arranging a piano piece for strings, horns and cuckoos, then added a spicy Haydn-style minuet and a rather French jig.
The Fantasia in its flute version has a thorough rethink, calling on a different type of solo virtuosity. Hansen presents it with fatter tone and a touch more melancholy than its originator, and the Mexican orchestra takes over some of the guitar’s figures with energetic relish. Robert Maycock