PALOMO My Secluded Garden.1,2 Madrigal and 5 Sephardic Songs.1,2 Concierto de Cienfuegos3 • Pepe Romero (gtr);1 María Bayo (sop);2 Romero Gtr Qrt;3 Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, cond;3 Seville RoyalRead more SO3 • NAXOS 8.572139 (74:04)
This new disc is very similar to one entitled “Andalusian Nocturnes,” which I reviewed in Fanfare 30:1. It involves the same artists, although the Concerto was recorded back in 2001. (The songs were set down in 2008.) Like the previous album, this is easy listening in the best sense of the term. Lorenzo Palomo writes joyous, undemanding music in a mainstream Spanish style—forged in his birthplace of Andalusia. In a neatly balanced program, we discover a composer who is adept in creating miniatures for voice and guitar and equally at home in his use of a symphony orchestra to accompany the four-guitar Concierto de Cienfuegos.
Taking the Concerto first, I believe it is the finest such work written for the Romero Guitar Quartet, a world-famous family group who also hail from the Andalusia region (and that corpus includes concertos by Moreno Torroba and Rodrigo). Deftly sidestepping the pitfalls of writing for multiple soloists and a large ensemble, Palomo scores with delicacy, often using individual instruments of the orchestra to underline specific thematic and rhythmic patterns. The work is in the usual three movements. While it must be said that at nearly 34 minutes it rambles occasionally, the ideas are so enjoyable and the textures so piquant that all is forgiven. The outer sections of the slow movement (subtitled “Song to the Night: Lullaby”) are quite lovely, and the percussion-driven 10/4 meter of the exuberant final movement is similarly hard to resist.
Palomo’s music is by no means postmodern—it is even less spiced with harmonic dissonance than that of Rodrigo, which it resembles—but he nevertheless manages to avoid cliché. This is apparent in the song collections, especially the bigger of the two, My Secluded Garden. Here the composer sets brief, folk-like poems by Celedonio Romero, the patriarch and founder of the Romero Quartet. While one or two songs indulge in flamenco declamation (“Soledad”), most are contemplative, as the overall title would suggest. Even No. 5, “Burlesque Song,” turns out to be lyrical and inward looking. My personal favorite is No. 8, “The Evening”; it opens with an extended pensive guitar solo, representing the setting sun, perhaps? The Sephardic songs in the second set bring a subtle hint of Middle Eastern flavor to the proceedings.
It says something of the quality of this music that artists such as María Bayo, Pepe Romero, and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos are prepared to perform it. I have been enjoying Bayo’s recordings of Spanish songs for several years. (A recent recital disc made reviewer James Miller’s Want List in 2003.) She sings here with expressive detail, coloring her attractive, bright tone as required. Pepe Romero’s artistry remains formidable, while the Quartet (which now contains two sons of the original four family members) plays with precision and nuance.
Sound quality is clear and open, more so than in some other Naxos recordings. All in all, this release is a winner. If you’re a fan of Rodrigo’s ubiquitous Concierto de Aranjuez, give Palomo a try.
Concierto de Cienfuegosby Lorenzo Palomo Conductor:
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Romero Guitar Quartet,
Seville Royal Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
ImpressiveSeptember 20, 2012By Mario F. (Palafolls, Barcelona, Spain)See All My Reviews"Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos's performances are really outstanding, showing, again, that he is one of the best conductors around the world"Report Abuse