GMCD 7176 – Guitar Concertos by Angulo, Rodrigo & Villa-Lobos

The Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Terence Frazor – Conductor, Rafael JimĂ©nez – Guitar

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American Reocrd Guide January/February 2001

A little-known concerto by Mexican composer Eduardo Angulo shares the bill here with two war-horses of the guitar-and-orchestra literature.

The first movement of Angulo’s concerto is cheerful and airy-adjectives that could just as easily be applied to 1 of the Aranjuez. But while Rodrigo’s beloved work is infused with a wholly Spanish spirit, Angulo’s work is more stylistically diffuse, with some subtle exotic effects and even hints of jazz. Angulo, who has composed several works for guitar, writes in a rhythmically exuberant, melodically driven tonal language. Moments of chromaticism are few and they do little to disrupt the sense of tonal security. The work darkens somewhat with the serene Andante but quickly brightens again with the lively Allegro Vivace’ There are some really beautiful tunes in the first two movements, and 111 has a few nice dramatic twists. But isolated moments notwithstanding, this piece needs more drama. On the whole it is very pleasant, but something so consistently tranquil and untroubled does not make for a very vivid musical experience.

Jimenez, Frazor, and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta deliver musically satisfying performances of all three works, and the recording accurately captures the balance of soloist and orchestra. Jimenez’s playing is most secure and effective in the Villa-Lobos-he shapes its idiomatic lines expertly and with passion. The whole piece is very nicely etched by both Jimenez and Frazor, who manages to coax some sounds out of the orchestra that rarely emerge from the texture in other readings (the bassoons in 1, for example). In alt three concertos, however, Jimenez’s playing is marred by occasional technical slips, buzzes, and an inconsistent tone. Editing out such glitches is more difficult in a concerto recording than a solo one, but still… I hate to point out such trivial issues as technical slips and buzzes in a recording; such things have little to do with an artistic product. But there is a level of accuracy expected in a recording these days as a result of modern editing technology. This expectation isn’t realistic-it isn’t the way music actually goes in performance-and it can cause rnusically inhibited interpretations. But listeners don’t expect mistakes and slips on a recording these days, and artists should not be surprised when obvious unedited blemishes attract attention.