Tom Kerstens

Goya: The Music of Enrique Granados

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Every so often there comes an album that is just pure and absolute pleasure to the ears. Tom Kerstens' Goya is one such album, and the repertoire of Granados is a perfect match for this wonderful guitarist. To hear him is to forget that there is such a thing as technique. The Valses poéticos form a set of waltzes, and yet Kerstens gives each waltz its due, its own nuance and character. There is the bright, sunny "Introducción"; the "Vals appasionado," which is as airy as a soufflé; the graceful, mandolin-like "Vals lento"; and the "Vals brillante," which is like two guitars serenading the listener. In La maja de Goya, one truly gets the sense that Kerstens is the sort of guitarist who draws you into his world, rather than putting on a show for an audience. It is simply beautiful to listen to. Again, with the Danzas Españolas, one hears a variety of emotions and characters that the guitarist captures with ease. The "Fandango (energico)" is indeed full of energy, in contrast with the "Villanesca" with its stately feel and lower register emphasized. It is particularly moving to hear how Kerstens plays the tension in the chords in the "Bolero," leaving one to wish for more of this in other pieces. Kerstens' warmth and tenderness is showcased perfectly in the "Dedicatoria (to my son Eduardo)," which is introspective and fitting as an affectionate tribute to one's child. The music flows from one piece to another with the illusion of effortless playing. Surely that is the mark of a great artist.

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