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Classical 101

Joaquin Rodrigo’s Final Guitar Concerto on Next Fretworks

Ricardo Gallen playing guitar
Alberto Díaz
Music by Ricardo Gallen on this Saturday's Fretworks.

Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo wrote what is probably the best known of all guitar concertos, the Concierto de Aranjuez, in 1939. There is the almost as popular Fantasia para un gentilhombre from 1954, and then the somewhat less well known Concierto Madrigal for two guitars from 1966, the Concierto Andaluz for four guitars from 1967, and finally from 1982, the least often performed of his guitar concertos, the Concierto para una fiesta.

For the next Fretworks program Saturday evening at 7, I’ll have this relatively unfamiliar concerto for guitar and orchestra by Rodrigo with soloist Ricardo Gallen and the Asturias Symphony conducted by Maximiano Valdes. The Concierto para una fiesta was written on a commission from William and Carol McKay of Fort Worth, Texas for their debutante daughters and first performed at an elaborate party for them. The soloist for that occasion was no less than Pepe Romero, of the Romeros, with the Texas Little Symphony conducted by John Giordano.

While this concerto is not as inspired a work as some of his earlier ones, it does have very idiomatic writing for the guitar, and at times there are echoes of the great Concierto de Aranjuez, especially in the slow movement. Pepe Romero said that it was the most technically difficult he had ever played.

Also on the program this week, a new recording from a guitar quartet based in Vienna, Guitar4mation. They’ll play four preludes from the Op. 28 by Frederic Chopin. Guitarist Richard Savino will perform music of Baroque composer Ludovico Roncalli on a 2004 copy of an instrument made by Antonio Stradivari in 1682.

Guitarist Christopher Parkening will be joined by baritone Jubilant Sykes for a couple of the Old American Songs by Aaron Copland, and Parkening will play solo in Jubilation by Andrew York. Join me for music of the classical guitar on Fretworks Saturday evening at 7 and Wednesday at 7 on Classical 101.