Vicente Coves / Pepe Romero / Manuel Coves

Federico Moreno Torroba: Guitar Concertos, Vol. 2

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Federico Moreno Torroba, who, among other things, ran a zarzuela company with Plácido Domingo's parents, wrote much of his guitar music for Andrés Segovia, but it has been somewhat neglected of late. Its idiom is conservative, a slot filled by the music of Rodrigo. Torroba's range is somewhat wider than Rodrigo's, but in general you can safely look into his music if you've heard the big Rodrigo hits enough times and are interested in something new. This collection of music for guitar and orchestra, the second in a series (the first is equally good), makes a fine place to start. Pepe Romero, perhaps the dean of living Spanish guitarists, is undiminished in his mid-seventies, and he has used this album and its predecessor to introduce his student, Vicente Coves, as a possible successor (Coves' brother Manuel also ably conducts the Extremadura Symphony Orchestra here). The casual listener will find it hard to detect any fall-off in the final Concierto de Castilla (1960), which is performed by Coves. The oddly shaped Tonada Concertante, with two long movements followed by two short ones, ends with Rodrigo-like music. Probably the most effective is the opening Homenaje a la seguidilla, a well-crafted and colorful folkloristic work with wonderfully varied guitar writing. Naxos nails the engineering at the Palacios de Congresos in Badajoz, capturing the careful balances -- always the challenge in guitar music -- forged by Manuel Coves. Never less than enjoyable.

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