Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Baroque Guitar

Record (or, more accurately CD) companies make recordings featuring artists and composers in a collection using performances that were made years, even decades ago. The Universal Music Group consists of the the labels Phillips, Decca, and Deutsche Grammophon. The Universal Classics pick and choose from among many recordings, and put them together with a unifying theme. Such a CD is the next in my collection, entitled Baroque Guitar.

With recordings going back as far as 1958, this collection includes works by Bach, Albinoni, Gaspar Sanz, Scarlatti, Handel, Ludovico Roncalli, Sylvius Leopold Weiss, and Vivaldi. It features a star-studded lineup of performers, including Andres Segovia, Pepe Romero, Narciso Yepes, John Williams, and more.

Segovia also arranged many of these works for guitar; he is particularly known for his arrangements of Bach. All but the last two works are for guitar solo or duet. These last two, a Guitar Concerto in D and a Mandolin Concerto in C - both composed by Vivaldi - are paired with the English Chamber Orchestra (for the guitar concerto) and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra.

As I was listening to this CD, I found track 8 to sound vaguely familiar. This work was composed by Gaspar Sanz, entitled Canarios from Suite Espanola. Doing a little digging, I discovered that the themes were used by JoaquĆ­n Rodrigo when he composed his Fantasia para un Gentihombre, in the fourth movement entitled, appropriately, Canario. Sanz created an guitar instruction book, from which Rodrigo apparently took inspiration on a number of Rodrigo's works.

One of the nice things about Universal Classics is that they are inexpensive. With low overhead in the use of previously recorded material, Universal is able to bring the works of famous performers to the market. They also provide a nice bundle for the occasional classical music listener. As shown in this CD, a person who just wants a recording of classical guitar music finds just the right thing at a very reasonable price.

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