Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez; Miedo; Cançoneta; Dos berceuses; Adagio

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rodrigo
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Concierto de Aranjuez; Miedo; Cançoneta; Dos berceuses; Adagio
PERFORMER: Ieuan Jones (harp), Felix Parra Aguilera (violin); Mexico State SO/Enrique Bátiz
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 1089
Played on the harp, Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez retains much of the character of the guitar original; the arrangement is, after all, Rodrigo’s own, made in 1973 in collaboration with harpist Nicanor Zabaleta. There are differences, of course: the harp can produce more notes at a time, and this somewhat changes the texture of the piece. Ieuan Jones’s reading inevitably sounds denser and more cluttered than the typical guitar performance, each note less resonant and telling, the overall effect lacking something of purity and sparseness. But this does not detract from Jones’s fluid musicality, which helps give a fresh guise to a familiar old warhorse.

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The couplings are unusual and worthwhile. Miedo (Fear) is an atmospheric exercise in sustained tension, played with a fine feeling for drama and pace by the Mexican orchestra under Enrique Bátiz. They are outstanding, too, in the Adagio of 1966 – an unusual echo of the Aranjuez slow movement which bursts periodically into episodes of martial hysteria. Probably the pick of the disc is the early Preludio para un poema a la Alhambra from 1928: gorgeous exploding colours and string slides in an evocation of the ancient tranquillity of the Alhambra – Rodrigo at his best. Christopher Wood