Guitar Recital (Laureate Series)

Adriano del Sal

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Guitar Recital (Laureate Series) Review

by V. Vasan

The classical guitar is an especially challenging instrument, in that one must accompany oneself. That is, the guitarist is playing both melody and harmony at the same time, and one cannot be compromised at the expense of the other. Adriano Del Sal does a fine job of accompanying himself in this album, in which two distinct musical personalities emerge. The first half of this album features works composed in the 19th century that might be known to any classical guitar aficionado. The first set of five pieces by Francisco Tárrega are played with a delicate sensitivity that makes it clear Del Sal has paid very careful attention to the phrasing. For example, Capricho árabe and El Columpio are taken at very slow tempi, which pose the risk of making the pieces fall flat and be boring. However, Del Sal is so careful an artist that he uses the slow tempi and rubati to convey much emotion and subtle phrasing; he is clearly savoring the music. Sor's Fantaisie begins with a dirge-like quality that is somber and mournful, and the second movement of theme and variations sound rather like a harp when played in a higher register. Perhaps the variations do not emerge as distinctly as they possibly could, even though Del Sal's dramatic chords at the beginning of one variation are certainly exciting. The second half of the album reveals a whole new character in the artist, one that is mature, confident, and features excellent technique that never comes at the expense of musically sensitive phrasing. Torroba's Pièces caractéristiques are written in a more modern tonality (20th century, as opposed to the previous works on the album), and the listener gets a clear sense of the chord structures beneath the flow of the melody. The last movement, "Panorama," brilliantly revisits all of the previous movements. Joaquín Rodrigo is best known for his Concierto de Aranjuez, but the Invocación y danza is equally as enjoyable. Once again, Del Sal plays with confidence and even fire, making a growing crescendo sound like an orchestra coming to life. The complex piece requires intricate phrasing, as it sounds as though it was written for two instruments. The album concludes with Morricone's Gabriel's Oboe, a piece many listeners will recognize from the film The Mission. Here, Del Sal returns to his more delicate, sensitive style of playing. This 2010 album shows an artist at work and at growth. He has promise to develop as a very complex artist.

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