These seventy-five guitar preludes were written
during the last century and are largely unfamiliar. They make a most
compelling collection from five composers, none of whom were guitarists.
The reefs and shoals of stultifying academicism that might have been
expected are avoided. We are rewarded instead with coruscating variety,
fine recorded sound and lovingly shaped playing. These are world première
recordings of the Asafiev, Badings and Sauguet.
's 12 Preludes were written in a single day and were probably
intended as a single piece. Hispanic character is to be heard alongside
trembling romance for example in Prelude 6. The final Prelude evokes
a dark healing pool with gorgeously plangent sound. Ponce
a stunning Guitar Concerto (1941) recorded for CBS-Sony by John Williams,
by Sharon Isbin for Warner
and by Alfonso Moreno for ASV
not to mention rewarding concertos for violin (1943) (Miranda
) and for piano (1910). His 24 Preludes are in the major
and minor keys and arranged in a circle of fifths. There is much to
value here: No. 5 with its delicate sparks and shards; No. 12 - a study
in healing tremolo that becomes a tidal race; No. 14 - a Moroccan water
garden in the high sierras; No. 18 - A Granada palace that vies with
Rodrigo; and a No. 21 - a cheery folk song.
The second disc introduces us to Henk Badings
who may be better
known to some of us for his symphonies on CPO. These Preludes were written
for the municipality of Amsterdam. They are not Iberian in accent -
no reason why they should be. Instead we hear an extremely inventive
launching-out into original sounds with the transparent writing incorporating
- but slowly - intoned discords in No. 1. No. 6 is reflective but creates
an image of a world distant from humanity. No. 9 is an eminent immersion
in muscular complexity and rasping virtuosity. The final piece offers
music that is exciting, percussive and sanguine. It plays outright to
the gallery to draw applause - it drew mine. It is sensational and ends
with a slow flourishing gesture. This cycle is rich in mercurial eccentricities
including some strikingly bleak episodes.
French composer Sauguet
might be recalled from his symphonies,
valiantly recorded by Marco Polo. His three preludes offer a slow curdling
in the first two but in the last a fast-pulsed complex and a knot of
nerves. The final disc has Ferenc Farkas
These 24 Preludes take in a world of invention including along the way
Bachian patterning, a subtle turning into strange and sometimes chilly
harmonic realms (1) - rather like the Badings; the grace and slow pulsed
romance of No. 6; and in No. 20 an intriguing cocktail of ingratiation
The adventurous Porqueddu lives and teaches in Nuoro. He has been recording
since 2002. His CDs have been distributed by Brilliant Classics since
2008 and this is his sixth. His Brilliant Classics discs include Barrios
(BC 9204) and Sor (BC 9205). Readers who have had their appetite whetted
for more information are referred to his website at www.cristianoporqueddu.com
Porqueddu’s playing is miraculously clean and there’s very
little fret noise. Here he plays on modern guitars made by Livio Lorenzatti
(2009) and Giuseppe Guagliardo (2005).
The notes are by composer Angelo Gilardino who dedicated his Concerto
to Porqueddu who has recorded a Gilardino collection for
Brilliant Classics (BC 8886). I must hear it.
It seems mean-spirited in the face of such delightful invention and
music-making to point out that we could have had this set on two discs
rather than three but at Brilliant Classics’ prices what can one
What a pleasure to come across an unhackneyed collection rather than
the usual snatches of this and that. Here the guitar is placed on a
par with other classical instruments - something to be treated seriously.
A lovely set.
After this initiation I would be very pleased to be introduced to Porqueddu’s