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  • chrisdumigan

Renata Arlotti : Suites and Homages : CD

CASTELNUOVO – TEDESCO : Rondo Op129; Escarraman Op177; Passacaglia Op180: ASENCIO: Suite Valenciana : Collectici Intim; Suite des Homenajes.

Renata Arlotti

Stradivarius: STR 39079

Here is a recording consisting of two of the greatest guitar composers from the twentieth century Mario Castelnuovo – Tedesco and Vicente Asencio played by Italian guitarist Renata Arlotti.

The album begins with her Italian compatriot Mario Castelnuovo – Tedesco who was responsible for a huge amount of guitar music that is deservedly hailed as some of the greatest music ever written for our instrument. His one – movement Rondo Op129 is a fine example of just how original his writing was. Of course the fact that he never played the guitar must have helped him to not write anything very typical of other guitarist/composers, but it’s more than that, as his music just goes in directions that others never thought of. The recording is clear and nice and forward with just enough reverberation to make the performance stand out.

Next is his six – movement suite Escarraman Op177, subtitled ‘A suite of Spanish Dances from the XVI Century (After Cervantes)’ and a beautiful suite it is, and to be fair not over – played by guitarists. It does deserve to be much better known than it is. After the opening Gallarda, there comes the uproarious El Canario, surely one of his most tricky pieces to play, but with wonderful melodies and harmonies, which our guitarist makes very short work of. It is a LOT harder to play than she makes it sound! The other movements are every bit as good as, and Renata’s attention to detail throughout is superb.

The final piece by this composer is the Passacaglia (Omaggio a Roncalli) Op180 which is a theme followed by 14 variations, the last of which is a Fuga, and again, this is another lovely performance of a piece that I struggle to find many performances of which is a great shame.

The rest of the recital is taken up with Spanish composer Vicente Asencio, beginning with his three – movement Suite Valenciana, an opening Preludi, full of unusual but compelling harmonies that again are completely not like any other writer I have heard, a slow Canconeta , very emotional in concept, and a final Dansa, that manages to be exciting and also slightly unexpected in a number of details, and is another difficult work to convey successfully , which our player does wonderfully well.

The five – movement Collectici Intim is a set of pieces based largely around emotions, Serenity, Joy, Calm, Delight and finally Haste, very Spanish in some of their harmonic work, but also again far from easy to get your fingers around, largely as a result again of Asencio not being a guitarist, when he wrote these works. Beautifully edited by, and written for Narciso Yepes , they amount to a very demanding , but beautiful set of pieces that Renata Arlotti brings the best out of. A lovely suite.

The final three pieces the Suite of Homenajes, I don’t think were originally a suite as my publication of these works is a set of two, followed by a separate printing of the final piece, so I gather the guitarist combined them into a suite of three movements for this recording ( I could be wrong!)The opening Sonatina in homage to Scarlatti is always in Asencio’s style, and doesn’t try to sound like Scarlatti. The second piece Elegia, in homage to Manuel De Falla, is another dramatic piece, full of sudden fortissimo chords in between emotive and introspective solo lines. The final Tango de la Casada Infiel, in homage to Garcia Lorca is every bit as sharp and rhythmic as you might expect a Tango to be, but again full of sounds you don’t expect to hear. Nevertheless it close this suite really effectively, and indeed the entire recital

There is a great deal of wonderful and little known music here, played really well by this wonderful guitarist, and I can only say that this CD is every bit as good as you might hope it to be, with two top – class composers, exhibiting some of their greatest guitar music. This is definitely one to get!

Chris Dumigan

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