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Spanish Nights 2 / Kavanagh, Zamfir, Bäcker, Et Al

Release Date: 08/01/2004 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 98441   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gerald GarciaGheorghe ZamfirJoaquin RodrigoHans-Horst Bäcker
Performer:  Dale KavanaghThomas KirchhoffGheorghe Zamfir
Conductor:  Horst-Hans Bäcker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amadeus Guitar DuoArad Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Here are four Hispanically inspired pieces—two by Spanish composers, the balance by others obviously moved by the same idiom that so strikingly inspired Ravel and Debussy. All are worthy. The first piece, Lorca Concerto by Gerald Garcia, whom I have long known as a guitarist, shows him to be a composer of skill and resourcefulness. His concerto for guitar duo and orchestra is based on Spanish folk tunes and proves to be far more than the normally anticipated pastiche. He takes pains to develop his materials in a symphonic manner, and successfully upholds the traditions established by such composers as Rodrigo and Abril.

The most intriguing piece on this offering is Gheorghe Zamfir’s Concierto de Barcelona for panpipes, two
Read more guitars, and orchestra. Before encountering this piece, I knew Zamfir only as a purveyor of easy-listening treacle hawked on late night television as “The Greatest Classical Hits as Performed by the Incomparable Zamfir on his Panpipes.” Musicians, like all of us, have to make a living—somehow. Put another way, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Zamfir was trained at the Music Academy of Bucharest. At first, he enrolled as an accordion student, but finding no vacancy in those classes, he turned to the panpipes and piano. The rest is, as they say, history. The composition of this concerto was encouraged in 2002 by the Amadeus Guitar Duo and the conductor on this release, Horst-Hans Bäcker. The result is a piece that incorporates several near-Eastern influences and rationalizes them into acceptable Western traditions. Christian Spain was, after all, once occupied by the Moors, and the magic of their music resonates in this piece. Of particular note is its hushed second movement, where Zamfir gives us a sense of what his instrument can do. The variety of tone and attack he achieves is stunning and, to a person of my Euro-centric background, amazing.

With Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un gentilhombre, we are squarely in the realm of standard rep. From Segovia’s historic recording with the Orchestra of the Air through a host of modern practitioners ranging from Pepe Romero and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields to Göran Sölcher and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (to give a woefully incomplete list), this piece has been more than well served. The virtues of this offering lie in Dale Kavanagh’s surgically precise and eloquently nuanced playing and in the lovingly hand-in-glove accompaniment provided by the Arad Philharmonic under Horst-Hans Bäcker. As I stated back in Fanfare 24:3 in a review of her performances of pieces by Carlo Domeniconi, Ponce, and Britten (Hänssler CD 98.350): “She disappears, leaving only the music in its most analytically clear and emotionally moving essences.” Those same virtues inform every other piece on this release, and when she partners with Thomas Kirchoff to form the Amadeus Guitar Duo, one is treated to elegant ensemble work—full of flashy virtuosity where needed, but best characterized by its subtle innigkeit.

The Rhapsodia mallorquina (2002) by Horst-Hans Bäcker is more expressionist than impressionist—hard-edged in the best Ravelian manner, but in its moments of repose, more Schoenbergian than folkloric—and provides yet another insightful take on the Spanish idiom. Bäcker was born in Romania but trained (in composition) in Germany and Austria. Here, he returns to his native (?) Romania and presides over some beautifully executed performances.

These interpretations recall an earlier Hänssler release that featured a fine rendition of Domiconi’s Concerto mediterraneo (reviewed in Fanfare 24:5, Hänssler CD 98.347). Hänssler has certainly come a long way from when they were purveyors of fine Bach performances under Helmut Rilling. There is a lot of excellent contemporary repertoire out there. May they continue their modern-day archeology.

William Zagorski, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Lorca Concerto by Gerald Garcia
Performer:  Dale Kavanagh (Guitar), Thomas Kirchhoff (Guitar)
Conductor:  Horst-Hans Bäcker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amadeus Guitar Duo,  Arad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Concierto de Barcelona by Gheorghe Zamfir
Performer:  Dale Kavanagh (Guitar), Thomas Kirchhoff (Guitar), Gheorghe Zamfir (Pan Flute)
Conductor:  Horst-Hans Bäcker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amadeus Guitar Duo,  Arad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Fantasía para un gentilhombre by Joaquin Rodrigo
Performer:  Dale Kavanagh (Guitar)
Conductor:  Horst-Hans Bäcker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; Spain 
Rhapsodia Mallorquina by Hans-Horst Bäcker
Performer:  Dale Kavanagh (Guitar), Thomas Kirchhoff (Guitar)
Conductor:  Horst-Hans Bäcker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amadeus Guitar Duo,  Arad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 

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