Sunday morning music


Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo is one of the twentieth century’s most important and prolific producers of music for guitar and orchestra.  He’s probably best known for his world-famous Concierto de Aranjuez (which provided his title when he was ennobled by the King of Spain as the first Marquess of the Gardens of Aranjuez).  Other notable works include the Concierto Andaluz for four guitars, which debuted in San Antonio, Texas in 1967, the Concierto Madrigal for two guitars, and his Fantasía para un gentilhombre, which is my favorite of all his works.

Today I’d like to share his Concierto Madrigal.  It’s more like an orchestral suite than a traditional concerto, having ten short movements instead of the usual three longer ones.  It’s difficult to find an adequate live recording of the piece, because in most of them the recording engineers and technicians erred in one of two ways:  either the guitars are over-emphasized at the expense of the orchestra, or vice versa.  However, I’ve found this recording from 2001 that seems reasonably balanced between the two extremes.  The soloists are Juan Francisco Padilla and Iván Ríjos, and the Orquesta de Córdoba is conducted by Irina Trujillo.

Watch the fingerwork of the guitarists as they try to keep up with the sometimes frenetic pace the composer demands of them.  Note, too, the condition of Padilla’s guitar – “worn” is a good description, if not “decrepit”!  Nevertheless, its tone is still entirely as it should be.  I’m sure he cherishes it.


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