Remembranzas de mi Guitarra
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Remembranzas de mI Guitarra
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Enric Madriguera is connected to Andrés Segovia in many ways: he was a student of Segovia's as a young man, and his aunt, Paquita Madriguera, was Segovia's second wife. Enric's program is offered as a form of homage to Segovia and the music reflects Segovia's influence with the choice of works and their direct connection to the maestro. Especially notable is the first recording of Three Studies by Segovia, performed as a set and using a "Segovia guitar" from the collection of Russell Cleveland. On the faculty at the University of Texas at Dallas, Enric Madriguera, he also is the director of guitar ensembles for the ChamberArt Festival in Madrid, Spain. As both a performer and educator, Madriguera has traveled to and presented in five continents during the span of his career.
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Virgil Thomson wrote, “There is no guitar but the Spanish guitar, and Andrés Segovia is its prophet.” Not surprisingly, Segovia’s students have felt compelled to offer tributes to him. There have been excellent albums dedicated to Segovia by Christopher Parkening and Eliot Fisk. Now we have another such CD by Enric Madriguera. Not only did Madriguera study with Segovia, but his aunt, the pianist Paquita Madriguera, was the Master’s second wife. Enric Madriguera possesses a big, hearty tone. He sometimes sacrifices elegance for excitement, but he undoubtedly makes you sit up and listen. He can play tenderly and, like his teacher Segovia, with a certain amount of aggression. Madriguera opens his recital, as Segovia often did, with early music. He performs transcriptions of lute pieces with a rich tone and all the sonic opulence the guitar is capable of, compared to the genteel lute. The last piece, a saltarello by Vincenzo Galilei, will be familiar from its use by Ottorino Respighi in his Suites of Ancient Airs and Dances. Francisco Tárrega’s arrangement of the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria comes off as more earthy than sentimental. Madriguera plays Miguel Llobet’s El Mestre with a Chopin-like charm. The two folk song arrangements by this composer are rendered with lovely intimacy. The first of them, La Nit Nadal, has been recorded by David Russell with a mischievous touch, while Madriguera’s reading has greater warmth.
Humorada, by Madriguera’s Aunt Paquita, is a jaunty little piece that the composer’s nephew offers with fine humor. Segovia’s own Daily Studies are played here on a guitar that belonged to the Master. Its sumptuous tone makes one wish Segovia had recorded in digital sound. The first study, “Prayer,” is given with touching simplicity. The next study, “Remembranza,” was dedicated by Segovia to a former lover. David Russell performs it with a longingly romantic tone, while Madriguera’s account is more like speech, a sort of recitation to the beloved. Guitarist Eddie Healy joins Madriguera in a delightful version of the final study, “Divertimento.” The popular-sounding pieces by Manuel Ponce are splendidly characterized; I especially liked Trópico, with its wonderful regional flavor. Eliot Fisk has recorded a lovely reading of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Tonadilla sopra Andrés Segovia, but the present interpretation by Madriguera is more coherent. The lullabies by the contemporary composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez are spare pieces with a touch of angst. His Tango Amor will have you visualizing couples dancing in an Argentine café.
Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Five Preludes are perhaps the most substantial works on the CD. It is instructive to compare Madriguera’s approach to Julian Bream’s on his 1956 Westminster recording. Both men play passionately; yet while Bream elicits the subdued passion of an interior monologue, Madriguera is exuberant, heart on sleeve. His First Prelude has a rhythmic subtlety that creates the sense of thematic material coming at you from multiple dimensions. No. 2 is filled with pranks and mischief. No. 3 possesses a luxurious serenity. In No. 4, Madriguera’s wonderful tonal effects present a richly colored portrait of Brazil’s indigenous peoples. The last prelude is played with the directness of popular music. Among stereo recordings, I like the more elegant account by Gerald Garcia, but Madriguera’s is at least as valid in its own way. The recital ends with two evocative works by the guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza, with whom Madriguera also studied. They are dispatched with wonderful panache. The sound engineering is close up and full, almost giving you the sense that Madriguera is playing just for you. This is one of the most distinctive guitar CDs to enter my collection in quite a while. Enric Madriguera is a musician who has every confidence that he knows what he wants to achieve, and no shortage of the means to do it. As has been said of the pianist András Schiff, you are not aware of technique per se, only of the artist’s consummate ability to attain all that he desires.