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Marco: Orchestral Works / Estarellas, Gutiérrez, Et Al

Release Date: 05/09/2006 
Label:  Verso   Catalog #: 2032   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Tomás Marco
Performer:  Gabriel EstarellasDimitar Furnadjiev
Conductor:  Gregorio Gutiérrez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oviedo Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

I once picked up a disc of symphonies by Tomás Marco (b. 1942) but found them gray and turgid, so did not persevere. I should have—if the current CD is anything to go by. These four orchestral works, particularly the two concertos, are quite the opposite: they are fascinating, airy in texture, and in some places quite traditionally beautiful.

The first thing one discovers from this program is that Spanish composers are still writing idiomatic, flamenco-flavored guitar concertos, albeit viewed through a post-modern prism. The Concierto del aqua (“Water concerto”) for guitar and strings is Marco’s third work in the genre. (His previous one, also for guitar and string orchestra, has been recorded on a Koch release.) Its
Read more three linked movements incorporate two lengthy cadenzas in which the soloist comments on the thematic material before moving on. This loose, quasi-improvisational structure is even more pronounced in the cello concerto, Laberinto marino. In fact, all these pieces could be regarded in formal terms as voyages of discovery. The slow movement of the guitar concerto commences in unashamedly tonal harmony and builds to a simple theme, stated by the guitar, which is so lovely I assumed it must be a quotation of a folk song or lullaby, but could find no such indication in the CD notes. Marco then rethinks moto perpetuuo in contemporary terms for the finale. Soloist Gabriel Estarellas has all the necessary dash and drive as well as the requisite heart-on-sleeve quality for the cantabile moments, but does not produce as cultivated a sound as, say, John Williams. He is excellent nonetheless.

Laberinto marino (“Marine Labyrinth,” 2001) was composed for the Mexican cellist Carlos Prieto, though, in the event, its premiere was undertaken by the artists on this recording. Once again, the water association confers a fluidity on the work’s structure. As in the guitar concerto, the central section revels in heartfelt, tonal harmonies. The soloist carries the burden of the thematic material throughout, while the orchestra—consisting of strings once more—provides a panorama of changing textures and colors. Furnadjiev’s cello is full-toned and responsive, but is balanced a touch too closely, occasionally masking detail in the accompaniment. (The same is true of Estarellas’s guitar.)

If there were a solo instrument in the Sinfonietta, it would be the timpani, which mark out the terrain where the musical journey takes place. A pair of oboes and a prominent piccolo are featured: their music is often composed of arabesque-like roulades, circling above the orchestral fabric. This bright work is neo-Classical in spirit, although Marco’s rhythmic figures are too disjunctive to create a Classical-style momentum. At one point, I thought this ought to be going somewhere, but it’s not. For Marco, then, rhythm is primarily an aspect of texture.

The chamber orchestra piece, Oculto carmen (“Concealed garden”), resembles the Sinfonietta without the latter’s breadth. Above punctuations from the timpani (again), various wind instruments play long lines in simultaneous isolation, growing and weaving like separate tendrils of the same plant. The resultant soundscape does become crowded; this was the only piece to remind me of the symphonies I had discarded. Still, it has its lyrical charms and at 5:58 is the shortest work on a pretty long CD.

The Orquesta sinfónica Cuidad de Oviedo was only formed in 1999 (interestingly, out of the personnel of the Moscow Virtuosi). It plays this music with feeling and insight, and the soloists are excellent. Apart from my slight reservation concerning balance, the sound is fine. I see Tómas Marco’s string quartets were recorded by the Arditti Quartet—not a group to waste their time on trifles! That could be quite interesting.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Guitar "del Agua" by Tomás Marco
Performer:  Gabriel Estarellas (Guitar)
Conductor:  Gregorio Gutiérrez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oviedo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; Spain 
Oculto Carmen by Tomás Marco
Conductor:  Gregorio Gutiérrez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oviedo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 
Laberinto Marino by Tomás Marco
Performer:  Dimitar Furnadjiev (Cello)
Conductor:  Gregorio Gutiérrez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oviedo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; Spain 
Sinfonietta no 1 "Opaco resplendor de la memoria" by Tomás Marco
Conductor:  Gregorio Gutiérrez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oviedo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Composition written: 1998 - 1999. 

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