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Jos Durkstra  : Platero and I : CD



CASTELNUOVO – TEDESCO : Platero; Return; The Well; Ronsard; Friendship; Angelus; Spring; Lullaby; White Butterflies; The Canary Flies; The Wayside Flower; Games at Twilight; November Idylle; Death; Melancholy; Platero in Heaven .

Jos Durkstra

Brainy Records JD03

 

There were originally  28 pieces of music that made up Mario Castelnuovo -Tedesco’s musical version of Juan Ramon Jimenez’s famous collection of 138 poems (Published in 1914), all with a part for narrator. They are best described as music that successfully backed up the narration matching all the changing moods of the original words, and was completed by him in the 1960s.

Here Jos Durkstra has taken 16 of the 28, the ones that perhaps stand alone better than the other 12, and made a complete album of this fascinating work. As always with Mario Castelnuovo – Tedesco’s music it is utterly his own in style and it’s always fascinating to know that he couldn’t play the guitar and yet the music is very guitaristic throughout. I know that a number of people helped him in various pieces to correct any unplayable parts but the fact remains that his own instinct helped him to write very guitaristic music for a great majority of the time!

Opening with the piece that tells us all about Platero to begin with, it starts with sound effects of a donkey, and then becomes the very characterful piece that it is. Obviously without the narrative some parts are left to the imagination, but our guitarist has picked his pieces for this CD very carefully, because none of them sound like they are missing the dialogue.

The second track Return again begins with sound effects and a melody that is instantly memorable with some lovely harmonies and interesting passage – work, whilst track 3, The Well begins with some deliberately unusual chords no doubt meant to create unease in the listener. Ronsard by contrast is warm and haunting in the opening before becoming very characterful a little further on.

Friendship begins with a similar rhythm to Return but in a completely different harmonic world, with a ground bass at times staying the same whilst the chords are in constant change. Angelus, one of the longer tracks starts with church bells and then develops into a similar idea on the guitar where the opening melodies are laisser vibrer in character. Constantly moving block chords are also all over this piece, as well as some lovely arpeggio work. Spring, preceded by bird song and outdoor sounds then turns into a rather fast moving idea again full of block chords and their arpeggios, and here also a certain amount of tremolo style in the writing.

Lullaby, at almost 7 minutes is the longest piece here, and is sadly quiet in its melodies and slow moving chord sequences. White Butterflies, by comparison leaps around in a most unexpected way and here the superb music is no doubt trying to imitate the flitting around of the butterflies here. Likewise, The Canary Flies flits around and never sits still for very long, but again the music is utterly individual to our composer, and could be written by absolutely no one else. The Wayside Flower is sad and with a lot of ideas that are memorable, whilst the following Games At Twilight moves and dances around in a very friendly way. November Idylle is warmly harmonised and one of the musical highlights of this set whereas the following Death begins with percussion sounds and is definitely meant to set your teeth on edge with its grim message. Melancholy is exactly what it says, sad but very melodic with some gorgeous moments , whilst the final Platero in Heaven is a very moving finale to the whole CD, and one which stays in the memory long after this CD has finished.

This is a lovely CD, full of gorgeous pieces of music , and supremely played by our guitarist, for with any music by Castelnuovo – Tedesco you can always say that nothing he ever wrote for our instrument in even remotely easy, far from it! So Jos Durkstra does a great job of bringing this wonderful music to life, and the recording is clear and resonant. The only downside for me is that I would personally have preferred the album without the sound effects, but that’s just me .All the guitar work is wonderful!

Chris Dumigan

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