Notes and Editorial Reviews
Pleasant and colourful music. Sor was not just a composer for the solo guitar.
Fernando Sor is most familiar to us a composer for unaccompanied guitar - and occasionally for guitar duet. He was a famously virtuosic guitarist himself; but he wrote for a variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles, not just for his own instrument – his output included lost symphonies and string quartets. This present CD concentrates attention upon some of his seguidillas for voice and guitar, colourful reworkings of Spanish folk conventions in a manner which became very fashionable in the musical salons of Spain – and far beyond Spain – in the first thirty years of the nineteenth century.
It was in 1976 that Brian Jeffrey
first published an edition of some twelve such pieces, following that collection up in 1999 with a further dozen of these attractive miniatures. These pieces – some for solo voice, some for two or three singers – offer a charming blend of folk rhythms and phrasing with the polite and refined musical expectations of the aristocratic salon. The results are not, it need hardly be said, especially profound or searching – but they are entertaining and often witty. Some of the sung texts are mildly risqué. Where did these texts come from? Did Sor perhaps prepare some of them himself? How many of them are based on folksongs or popular verses?
Xavier Diaz-Latorre has put together a programme – arranged under a quasi-theatrical ‘narrative’ (with the pieces disposed in three ‘acts’ and an epilogue) – which interleaves nineteen of Sor’s seguidillas with purely instrumental pieces. Apparently when Laberintos Ingeniosos give concert performances of Sor’s boleros their encores usually take the form of boleros written in modern times by non-Spanish composers. In keeping with this habit they close this CD with a performance of a song by the Cuban Nilo Menéndez, ‘Aquilla ojos verdes’ (Those green eyes) – which has been recorded over the years by - to name but one or two members of a varied body performers – Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra, Nat King Cole, Lou Donaldson, Anita O’Day, Ibrahim Ferrer with the Buena Vista Social Club and Juan Diego Florez (on Sentimiento Latino, Decca 475 6932)! Now here’s a further performance, very different from all of its predecessors. It makes an intriguing conclusion to an unpretentious album of thoroughly relaxing music.
The performances are full of ease and affection. This is the case with the songs – of which highlights include ‘Cuando de tí me aparto’, which uses all three singers and all three instrumentalists, and ‘Muchacha y la vergüenza’, sung by Lambert Climent (though wouldn’t a female voice have been better?) accompanied just by the guitar of Diaz-Latorre:
“Muchacha y la vergüenza ¿dónde se ha ido? Las cucuraches, madre, se la han comido.
‘My girl, where’s your modesty? What has become of it?’ ‘It was the cockroaches, mother, . That devoured it.’
- Muchacha, mientes, porque las cucuraches no tienen dientes.”
‘My girl, you’re lying, Because cockroaches have no teeth.’
The instrumental pieces are also well-played, with a vivid sense of colour and rhythm The Opus 9 variations – on ‘Das klinget so Herrlich’ from Die Zauberflöte – get a particularly gracious performance, the contrast between the first variation’s good humour and the second’s stateliness being particularly delightful. But, in truth, there is nothing here that doesn’t delight. This is relatively lightweight music, but it is sophisticated stuff too, and it gets very sympathetic and understanding performances here.
Glyn Pursglove, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Seguidillas (12) for Voice and Guitar by Fernando Sor
Xavier Díaz-Latorre (Guitar)
Written: 1800-1808; Spain
Aquellos ojos verdes by Nilo Menéndez
Xavier Díaz-Latorre (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century
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