Work: Concierto madrigal for 2 Guitars
About This Work
Rodrigo began this two-guitar concerto in 1966, intending it for the husband-and-wife duo of Alexandre Lagoya and Ida Presti. The 1970 premiere, however, fell to Pepe and Angel Romero, who recorded it several years later. More a suite than a
traditional concerto, the Concierto madrigal falls into ten brief movements, many of them based on the anonymous Renaissance madrigal "Felices ojos mios" (Happy Eyes of Mine). The composer wrote that "the element that sustains [the work] is the variation. Each of the variations or episodes is indicated by the title, which gives a clue to its atmosphere or scenario, a delicate poetic sketching that imbues the whole score. At times, because of the origin of the theme, the episodes have a modal or archaic character; at other times, the melody that acts as a thread through the whole work is permeated by a much more popular feeling." All in all, the concerto is more akin to Rodrigo's similarly archaic Fantasía para un gentilhombre than to his more Romantic Concierto de Aranjuez.
The soloists gallop in during the opening "Fanfarre" (Allegro marziale), then the flute presents the madrigal theme over guitar accompaniment in the movement called Madrigal (Andante nostalgico). "Entrada" (Allegro vivace) transforms a fragment of the madrigal tune into a balletic duet. The ensuing Allegro vivace offers an antiphonal conversation between guitars, trumpet, and woodwinds based on the fifteenth century villancico "Pastorcito, tue que vienes, pastorcito, tu que vas" (Little shepherd, you who come, little shepherd, you who go). That tune is transformed into a fleet, urgent Andalusian dance in "Girardilla" (Presto); the movement's name is derived from a word for spin or pirouette.
The glittering "Pastoral" (Allegro), with suggestions of chiming bells, is interrupted by the fanfare from the first movement. Next, the "Fandango" traces that popular flamenco dance back to its more stately roots in the eighteenth century. The beautiful "Arieta" (Andante nostalgico) is by far the concerto's longest movement, with the madrigal theme now appearing in triple time over a hypnotic, descending accompaniment. The Zapateado (Allegro vivace) is a stomping Spanish dance pushing the soloists close to their limits of technique. The concluding "Caccia a la española" (Spanish hunt; Allegro vivace -- Andante nostalgico) is a similar but less frenetic movement, still with piquant harmonies, and briefly quoting Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez before bringing back madrigal theme at the end.
-- James Reel
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