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Javier Somoza  : A Guitar for Segovia : CD

MUDARRA: 3 Libros de Musica en Cifras Para Vihuela Book 1 – Pavana ; 3 Libros de Musica en Cifras Para Vihuela Book 2 – No26 Kyrie Primero de la Missa de ‘Beata Virgin’( after Josquin Des Prez); 3 Libros de Musica en Cifras Para Vihuela Book 1 – Fantasia que Contrahaze la Harpa en la Manera de Ludovico; MURCIA: Folias Italianas ; Folias Espanolas: OHANA : Tiento : CASTELNUOVO – TEDESCO : Variazioni Attraverso I Secoli Op71; PONCE: Diferencias Sobre La Folia de Espana Y Fuga: MARTIN: Quatre Pieces Breves.

Javier Somoza

Brilliant Classics: 95487


There are two themes to this recording: the folía, and a particular guitar made for and played by Andres Segovia.He expanded the repertoire very effectively by requesting many pieces from some of the most famous composers of the 20th Century, who did not know how to play the guitar at all, or write for it, and so Segovia really looked over their shoulders much of the time and showed them how it was done. There are 3 large pieces on this recording that were the result of these collaborations. 

We begin with 5 pieces originally written for vihuela from Alonso Mudarra and Santiago de Murcia, all very cleanly played and having an authentic sound. Perhaps the most famous these 5 is Mudarra’s Fantasia que Contrahaze la Harpa en la Manera de Ludovico, a harpist who it seems liked to put in a number of unusual harmonies when he played, which Mudarra beautifully captures in his very clever piece.

Then we jump forward to the last 100 years with Maurice Ohana’s Tiento, which does hark back to the 18th century in its style if not its harmony world.

Mario Castelnuovo – Tedesco eventually wrote a huge amount of guitar music and turned out to be one of our instrument’s most stunning writers. Here, his Variations Across the Centuries, one of his first guitar works, crosses the centuries in that every variation is from a different time, which works beautifully, and played here superbly by Somoza.

The next piece is a giant in the classical guitar repertoire, the marvelous Diferencias Sobre La Folia de Espana Y Fuga from Manuel; Ponce, another composer who wrote many guitar works, this one being perhaps his most stunning composition. As anyone who has heard or played this piece will know, it is 25 minutes of some of the greatest music ever written for the guitar, and so Somoza has a lot to live up to. I am happy to say that he does a fine job, even though every guitarist finds different ways to approach the many different parts of this work!

The final work was written for Segovia by Frank Martin , the 20th Century Swiss composer.The four movements , Prelude, Air, Plainte,and Comme Un Gigue, eventually proved too modern for Segovia , and so he disregarded it completely. The harmony is modern but always understandable but definitely a move away from what Segovia normally played. Somoza makes a superb job of the opening Prelude with its very quick runs and sudden outbursts. The Air is by contrast slow and littered with sudden harmonic crunches, similar to the Plainte, which is chord – laden, with some very dissonant notes amid them, and topped with a slow mournful tune that refuses to harmonically fit with the chords underneath! The Comme Un Gigue is, as you might expect, very fast and very difficult to get your fingers around, but our guitarist has no trouble at all, and brings this wonderful CD to a fine close with these unusual four pieces, which even to this day sound absolutely modern!

This is a CD that many will enjoy!



Chris Dumigan


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