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Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez, etc. (Manuel Barrueco/Philharmonia Orchestra/Plácido Domingo)

March 2, 2013

Spanish music is underplayed. Every day, classical music listeners tune into German, American, French, Italian, Austrian, and English composers without giving a thought to their talented Spanish brethren. Indeed, for every Mozart, there is an Albéniz; for every Hindemith, there is a Granados. Unfortunately, people are missing out on a unique breed of classical music. Unlike German, Austrian, and French music, which can be confused, the Spanish sound is identifiable.

The composer Joaquin Rodrigo was one of Spain’s most talented, yet neglected composers. Two of his works in particular, the Concierto de Aranjuez and the Fantasía para un Gentilhombre, both written for solo guitar and orchestra, are genius. This critic recently immersed himself in a recording by the Philharmonia Orchestra in order to absorb the wonderful sound.

The keynote works, performed by Manuel Barrueco, are well done. The guitar playing is expressive, precise, and artful. Many classical guitarists get too caught up in each individual note, losing a sense for the big picture, yet Barrueco crafts clear, understandable lines. The first movement of the Concierto is perhaps the best on the disc, with steadier orchestral playing than in the rest of the pieces. Unfortunately, the Philharmonia did not sound its usual, accurate self under Plácido Domingo- perhaps this can be attributed to Domingo’s prowess as a singer, not conductor. In the Fantasía, Barrueco plays with unmistakable Spanish flair. No matter the orchestra, it is a pleasure to listen to this guitarist.

The disc is rounded out with some works with Domingo singing- what a relief! His voice is unbearably beautiful, nothing like his less experienced conducting. However, though they are pleasant, a listener should focus on the Concierto and Fantasía. They are not to be missed.


From → CD Reviews

  1. Thank you. I am still learning to appreciate (in deeper sense) Spanish music although Spanish guitar has always notable beauty. I love to listen to Domingo, yesterday night I watched a YouTube video speaking about tenors and it mentioned Domingo by far has played around 140 roles (in operas +) in his life, I am really impressed and hope to find much time to listen more. Thanks again for re-introducing Spanish music. Can I share with you one of my favourites of Granados?

    • journeythroughnews permalink

      Great, thank you! I will listen to the Granados as soon as possible.

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