Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez; Fantasía para un gentilhombre; Música para un jardín; Tres viejos aires de danza

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rodrigo
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Concierto de Aranjuez; Fantasía para un gentilhombre; Música para un jardín; Tres viejos aires de danza
PERFORMER: Marco Socías (guitar); City of Granada Orchestra/Josep Pons
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901764
Going by their names, I estimate there’s just one Spaniard in the first violin section of the City of Granada Orchestra. It suggests that the orchestra is not as well integrated with the city as it could be, but it makes a good, bright sound, and under the direction of Josep Pons (a Catalan) sounds acceptably idiomatic in music by Rodrigo (a Valenciano). Soloist Marco Socías is a Spaniard all right, albeit resident in Berlin, and excels in his country’s national guitar concerto. Pons, too, is subtle and intelligent, drawing out a string of hidden melodic lines in the famous Adagio, which Socías plays with unhurried restraint and a fine feeling for the music’s beauty.

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The slightly banal children’s song finale leads us into the rest of the music on the CD, which has a simplicity that is sometimes irritatingly naive. The Fantasía para un gentilhombre is a piece of faux Baroque for guitar and orchestra and is often coupled with the Concierto. Socías is again spot on, clean and articulate, but the piece is sleepy. The Música para un jardín is a hotchpotch from various eras of Rodrigo’s long life, harmonically more arresting than the Fantasía, but slow-paced and rhythmically dull. Still, these are unusual fillers for the Concierto de Aranjuez and welcome for it. Carlos Bonell with the Montreal SO under Charles Dutoit is a good benchmark, coupled with some better things by Falla. Christopher Wood