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Castillo: Obra Para Piano / Ana Guijarro


Release Date: 06/18/1996 
Label:  Almaviva   Catalog #: 119   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Manuel Castillo
Performer:  Ana Guijarro
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



CASTILLO Sonatina. Toccata. 3 piezas para piano. Preludio, diferencisas u toccata. Intimus. Tempus. Nocturno en Sanlúcar. Sonata. Perpetuum Ana Guijarro (pn) ALMAVIVA 119 (75:15)


Manuel Castillo (b. 1930) belongs to that group of composers with impressive credentials that don’t extend beyond national borders. An honored and influential teacher, administrator, and composer, he remains practically unknown on Read more the international classical scene. This isn’t surprising. His work has moved easily between a neo-Classical style and a neo-Romantic one, between tonal and atonal music, but never has he given up the traditional forms and structural processes of composition that were anathema to the latter-day serial set. It’s only been in the last couple of decades that traditional composition has come to life once more, and our concert halls are still playing catch-up to all the fine music that for many years went unheard. Not that I expect Castillo’s music to show up on a radio transcription concert by a major North American orchestra or a celebrated pianist soon, but at least the possibility now exists.


Judging from the contents of this album, it is music well worth programming in concert. Just a few highlights to note: The Sonatina (1949) was composed when Castillo was 19. A very likeable piece, it plays almost like a children’s suite, and shows a mix of influences. The first movement has the best imitation of Ravel that I’ve heard ever since first encountering many years ago a string quartet by that fine Romanian composer, Radu Paladi. The Toccata (1952) reveals more than a hint of modal Debussy behind the chromatic scaffolding. Intimus (1986) is a short, frequently dissonant but tonal work (and visionary one) built around a Gregorian chant.


Perpetuum (1992) was designed as a contest piece. It briefly recalls Prokofiev, but makes its own mark. Each of the Tres piezas para piano (1959) is atonal but consonant, and traditional in all other respects. Each is distinctive enough to warrant regular performance on the concert stage. Tempus (1980) displays an almost improvisatory drama of great power, while the Nocturno en Sanlúcar (1985) is late Debussy at his most tonally extended, with only the occasional ornamental turn or harmony to recall Andalusia. Castillo dedicated the work to Antonio Lucas Moreno, both his piano teacher and that of Ana Guijarro, the pianist on this disc.


Guijarro herself is a fine pianist with a broad dynamic and emotional range. She keeps Castillo’s very musical but sometimes complex textures clear, and articulates inner voices well. Everything means something under Guijarro’s hands; there are no chords, pauses, or ornamentations that are dismissed as flash on the way to a more “interesting” passage. I felt that the Toccata and Perpetuum could have used a bit more bite, but she presumably performs on this release with the composer’s imprimatur; so I’ll merely express a private opinion, and leave the matter at that.


The piano on this album has decent presence but is shallowly recorded; as a result, the sound doesn’t blossom the way it should. As for the liner notes, you might think that since they were prepared for this release by the composer, the translation would be excellent. Think again. “I was nine and ten years old when I wrote it” for “I was 19 when I wrote it” is a fair sample of what to expect throughout.


The production values are less than ideal, but the music is definitely worth the effort. With all the attention being currently devoted to composers rediscovering their “traditional roots,” here’s one that never completely left the fold, but explored it and found his own individual niche. It’s worth our exploration, too.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonatina for Piano by Manuel Castillo
Performer:  Ana Guijarro (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; Spain 
2.
Toccata for Piano by Manuel Castillo
Performer:  Ana Guijarro (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952; Spain 
3.
Pieces (3) for Piano by Manuel Castillo
Performer:  Ana Guijarro (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; Spain 
4.
Preludio, Diferencias y Toccata by Manuel Castillo
Performer:  Ana Guijarro (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; Spain 
5.
Intimus by Manuel Castillo
Performer:  Ana Guijarro (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986; Spain 
6.
Tempus by Manuel Castillo
Performer:  Ana Guijarro (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1980; Spain 
7.
Nocturno en Sanlúcar by Manuel Castillo
Performer:  Ana Guijarro (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; Spain 
8.
Sonata for Piano by Manuel Castillo
Performer:  Ana Guijarro (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972; Spain 
9.
Perpetuum by Manuel Castillo
Performer:  Ana Guijarro (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; Spain 

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