Rodrigo: Concierto para una fiesta; Concierto madrigal

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COMPOSERS: Rodrigo
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Concierto para una fiesta; Concierto madrigal
PERFORMER: Ricardo Gallén, Joaquín Clerch (guitar); Asturias SO/Maximiano Valdés
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555842
The unlikely scene of the first performance of Rodrigo’s Concierto para una fiesta was a private party thrown in 1983 at the Ridglea Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas, for a pair of Lone Star debutantes. Rodrigo’s dancing days were by then over, and his composition days hadn’t long to run. The Concierto is correspondingly halting at times, confused and uncertain of itself. The keening cor anglais of the second movement unmistakably echoes the slow central section of the Concierto de Aranjuez – whether as deliberate reference or a desperate entreaty to a departed muse the listener must decide. A doddery and repetitive third movement brings things to an abrupt close when it suddenly remembers how to make decisions, retrieves a weather-worn ten-gallon hat, and shuffles out into the Texas night.

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The Concierto madrigal for two guitars dates from 1966 and is the work of a less distrait composer. Ricardo Gallén and Joaquín Clerch duel impeccably through a sequence of pleasant sonorities: the Rimsky-like orchestration of the ‘Pastoral’ singles it out, but all is equally fresh and appealing. There is a decidedly deliberate quotation from Aranjuez in the last section, but this time from a piece that can survive the comparison. Christopher Wood