About this Recording
8.572727 - Guitar Recital: Garibay, Pablo - SCARLATTI, D. / TARREGA, F. / PONCE, M. / JOSE, A.

Pablo Garibay: Guitar Recital
Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757): Sonata in E, K.380 • Sonata in D minor, K.213
Francisco Tárrega (1852–1909): Capricho árabe • Lágrima • María • Endecha • Oremus • La Mariposa
Manuel Ponce (1882–1948): Sonata III (1927)
Antonio José (1902–1936): Sonata (1933)


Domenico Scarlatti, born in Naples, spent nearly thirty years of his professional life in the Iberian peninsula. In about 1719 he was appointed as mestre to the Portuguese royal chapel of John V. Among his many duties was responsibility for teaching Princess María Barbara. In 1729, when the princess married Prince Ferdinand, son of Philip V, Scarlatti moved with his pupil to the Spanish court.

In 1738 Scarlatti’s fame was enhanced throughout Europe by the publication of thirty of his Essercizi for harpsichord, dedicated to John V who forthwith appointed him as a Knight of the Order of Santiago. The Essercizi were not merely ‘exercises’ but expressive and brilliant sonatas in binary form that would constitute Scarlatti’s greatest legacy. Scarlatti continued writing them for the rest of his life, ultimately completing a total of 555 such works—an extraordinary achievement. The great Scarlatti scholar, Ralph Kirkpatrick saw him as ‘influenced not only by Spanish music but also by the guitar. Though Scarlatti probably never played the guitar…surely no composer ever fell more deeply under its spell’. It is therefore appropriate that the playing of Scarlatti’s sonatas is increasingly popular among guitarists. During recent years guitar arrangements of over 200 sonatas have been published.

Sonata in E, K. 380 has the dignity of a procession, evoking instruments of the court such as trumpets and woodwind, as well as percussive elements. From the catchy opening phrase, the sonata develops organically, a number of complementary motifs deployed one after another with amazing inventiveness. Sonata in D minor, K. 213, was described by the musicologist Malcolm Boyd as being one of Scarlatti’s ‘intimate, refined and even soul-searching’ sonatas. The sublime beauty of the melodic line is ideally suited to the guitar. But as Kirkpatrick has pointed out, the sonata is structurally more complex than is usual for a binary-form piece. The result is a gradual unfolding of a moving musical statement in which the guitar’s plucked strings sing with exceptional poignancy.

Francisco Tárrega was a leading personality of immense significance in the guitar’s development over the last two centuries, in terms of technical innovations, compositions, and the art of arrangement. His advocacy of new concepts of guitar construction embodied in the work of Antonio de Torres (1817–1892), the great Spanish luthier, has proved influential right up to the present time. Working with the Torres type of instrument (with its enhanced tonal qualities, fan strutting, and a 650 millimetre string length), Tárrega established teaching methods including the most practical way of holding the guitar (using a footstool to raise the left leg), principles of left and right hand techniques, and studies to develop a player’s skills. He also composed some remarkable music for the instrument, meticulously indicating the precise placing of notes on the fingerboard to produce the most vibrant effects. In many exquisite miniatures, often influenced by Chopin, he established a Spanish romantic voice for the guitar which has enchanted public and players ever since.

Capricho árabe (Arab Caprice), dedicated to ‘the eminent maestro, D. Tomás Breton’, is a tribute to the Moorish heritage of southern Spain. Its opening recalls the oud, the Arabic lute, while the steady rhythm which follows evokes the sensuous Danza mora, the traditional dance. Segovia in his autobiography observed how during his youth Capricho árabe was ‘the pièce de résistance of my repertoire and one especially suited to reach the sensitive chords of a feminine heart’.

Manuel Ponce was the founding father of twentieth-century Mexican music. His pupil, Carlos Chávez (1899–1978) said of him: ‘It was Ponce who created a real consciousness of the richness of Mexican folk art.’ Segovia and Ponce met in Mexico in 1923, and from that time onwards the composer devoted himself to writing many pieces for the guitar, nearly all of them dedicated to Segovia. Of these compositions, which include preludes, suites, a concerto, variations, several sonatas, and works for guitar and harpsichord, Segovia has written: ‘Large or small, they are, all of them, pure and beautiful.

Sonata III was described by Segovia in a letter to the composer of 20 July 1927 as ‘very beautiful and a work of significance for the guitar, the artist and the musician’. The first movement, Allegro moderato, is neo-romantic in essence, beginning with a memorable but slightly austere first subject which soon softens into lyrical arpeggios and gentle chords. The development section, un poco più animato, explores textural contrasts, evolving through various tonalities until the recapitulation with its serene coda. Chanson: Andantino molto espressivo, is a beautiful ballad or folk song interspersed with a vivo episode before progressing to a modified version of the theme. The last movement, Allegro non troppo in three-four time, is in rondo form, the early scale passages implying a Spanish influence. A meno mosso section returns to the tranquillity of the Chanson while a central episode presents the melodic tremolo which frames expressive lento moments. After a recapitulation of the main theme, a brief coda provides a calm ending.

Antonio José was praised by Maurice Ravel as a composer who would ‘become the greatest Spanish musician of our century’. But his arrest and execution near his home city of Burgos in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War cast his music into a subsequent obscurity which has only recently been remedied. A monograph about his life and work has been published by the municipality of Burgos.

Considerable interest was aroused by the discovery in the late 1980s of the Sonata, which Antonio José finished on 23 August 1933. One movement was given its première in Burgos by Regino Sáinz de la Maza in November 1934. The Sonata offers further perspectives on the expansion of the guitar repertoire during the early twentieth-century Spanish musical renaissance. The work established Antonio José’s reputation beside those of his distinguished contemporaries who respected the guitar as an expressive medium. José’s Sonata is a composition requiring virtuosity as well as emotional depth and insight.

Finally we hear a group of Francisco Tárrega’s memorable miniatures, each a poetic statement inspired by the romantic guitar. Lágrima (Teardrop) is one of his most popular works, performed with pleasure both by masters of the instrument and their pupils. María, written in 1907, is a technically agile piece in the style of a Gavotte. The title may refer to María Rosalía, Tárrega’s second daughter, the music evoking the vivaciousness of the girl’s character, though Tárrega’s wife was also called María (as were some of his students and friends). Endecha (Lament) exemplifies the composer’s melodic inventiveness supported by gently sketched harmonies. Oremus (Let us pray), an elegiac prelude echoing a plaintive theme from Schumann’s Opus 99, was written on 30 November 1909, fifteen days before Tárrega’s death. La Mariposa (The Butterfly), in contrast, offers a delightful study in arpeggios and repeated notes covering almost the entire range of the fingerboard.

Graham Wade

Close the window