In June of 1922, a cultural fiesta took place on the grounds of Granada’s Alhambra palace, organized by Manuel de Falla and Federico García Lorca. The aim of the event was to preserve the ‘purity’ of flamenco art and the opening performance was given by 29-year-old guitarist Andrés Segovia. Ironically, Segovia played de Falla’s Hommage to Claude Debussy (featured on this album) – a work which can hardly be described as pure flamenco. But this can be seen as symptomatic of an important trait in the music of 20th-century Spain: Certain composers defended what they believed to be a noble, gallant and Castilian ideal, while others embarked on an quest to restore the ‘lost purity’ of the peasantry, but embracing Modernism and Impressionism as stylistic tools in order to do so. This is demonstrated on Franz Halász’s new disc, which provides a context – Milán’s Pavanes from the 16th century, Fernando Sor’s ‘Malbroug’ Variations from 1827 – while juxtaposing later works that embody the described, conflicting attitudes. This makes for a colorful and varied programme, taking in highlights in the guitar literature such as Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra as well as Joaquín Turina’s Guitar Sonata, here recorded – for the first time – from a copy of Turina’s original manuscript, and not Segovia’s published version with numerous changes. The winner of a Latin Grammy, Franz Halász is a highly acclaimed guitarist who here also makes his own contribution to the repertoire of his instrument, with his own arrangements of de Falla and Isaac Albéniz.
This varied, highly atmospheric album of Spanish guitar music gives Halasz the opportunity to use a multiplicity of stylistic elements, and his sense of dramatic progression is particularly impressing. Joy of playing, love for the instrument and the music, are further essential components of his interpretations, making this a valuable and attractive recording.
– Pizzicato (Remy Franck)