About this Recording
8.573548 - RODRIGO, J.: Songs with Guitar Accompaniment (Serranilla) (Ferrero, Socías)
English  Spanish 

Joaquín Rodrigo (1901–1999)
Songs with Guitar Accompaniment

 

Joaquín Rodrigo (born Sagunto, 1901; died Madrid, 1999) was one of the finest and most popular composers to come out of Spain in the last century. Working within the tonal system, he drew on conventional forms and combined artsong and folk-inspired elements to create a link between traditional Spanish music and current trends, in the process creating his own personal and instantly recognisable style.

The human voice was always important to Rodrigo and played a key part in his production, from solo songs to the comic opera El hijo fingido. Musicologists and biographers of the composer agree that his vocal works as a whole represent his greatest aesthetic achievement—one to which, of course, his wife Victoria Kamhi made an invaluable contribution.

As well as original works for voice and guitar, this album also features a large number of transcriptions written and performed by guitarist Marco Socías of some of Rodrigo’s songs with piano accompaniment. These adaptations have been approved by Cecilia Rodrigo, the composer’s daughter, and we should like to thank her with all our hearts for lending us her enthusiastic and unconditional support throughout this project.

A guitar accompaniment for these works has proved to be very effective, the instrument suiting Rodrigo’s elaborate filigree soundworld to perfection. He himself transcribed several of his own songs for the guitar (including Coplas del pastor enamorado and the carols Pastorcito santo and Coplillas de Belén), realising how well its tone and colour complemented his vocal writing.

The works recorded here cover a wide expressive range, from pieces in traditional or folk style, such as some of the carols and Spanish songs, to the profound and intimate settings of Con Antonio Machado, via the simplicity and lyricism of Adela or Una palomita blanca. Spanning around sixty years of the composer’s creative life, they convey all that is most fascinating and moving about Rodrigo’s music.

José Ferrero and Marco Socías

Pastorcito santo
Coplillas de Belén
La espera

These three carols are taken from a larger collection entitled Retablo de Navidad, which also includes five other Christmas songs. Written in 1952, Retablo won a national music competition in Spain that same year. Later on, Joaquín Rodrigo made transcriptions for guitar and voice of three of these eight songs (including Pastorcito Santo and Coplillas de Belén), which were then published under the title “Tres Villancicos”. Pastorcito santo sets a lyric by the renowned Spanish playwright Lope de Vega (1562–1635), including the magical refrain “¿dónde vais que hace frío tan de mañana?” (“Where are you going / so early this chill morning?”), and is regarded as one of Rodrigo’s finest works. Both Coplillas de Belén and La espera set texts by Victoria Kamhi. The latter, dedicated to Montserrat Caballé, is particularly dramatic and moving in nature.

Con Antonio Machado
Preludio • Mi corazón te aguarda • Tu voz y tu mano • Los sueños • Cantaban los niños • ¿Recuerdas? • Fiesta en el prado

This collection of ten songs [seven of which are included here] was composed in 1971 to texts by the wonderful poet Antonio Machado, and premiered in Seville on 4th October of that year by soprano María Orán and pianist Miguel Zanetti, as part of the third “Decena de Música” Festival in Seville, in the Charles V Hall of the Alcázar. The songs were written in response to a commission from the Comisaría General de la Música for a tribute to Joaquín Turina. They are dedicated “to Victoria” .

The songs do not form a cycle in the same way as do those of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin or Schumann’s Dichterliebe, because on reading Machado’s “Complete works” I could not find a group of poems relating to a single person or linked by a continuous emotional thread. His poems are short and concentrated, and because the emotions they express leave many things half-said, they are ideal for setting to music. When it comes to songwriting, I continue to believe in melody, and in full and measured phrases—this collection reflects that way of composing, one from which I have never strayed. (Joaquín Rodrigo)

Canción del grumete
Rodrigo wrote the Canción del grumete in 1938, to an anonymous text, for an Abel Gance film about Christopher Columbus that in the event was never made.

Una palomita blanca
This is taken from an anthology published under the title Doce canciones españolas (Twelve Spanish Songs). The songs used traditional texts adapted by Victoria Kamhi and were written in 1951 in response to a commission from the Barcelona Institute of Musicology. This is a gentle, simple melody from the region of León, which has a rich tradition of folk music.

Folías canarias
One of Rodrigo’s original songs with guitar accompaniment, this is based on a traditional tune, and takes its text and folk rhythms from the Canary Islands. It was dedicated to the soprano Sofía Noel.

Romance de Durandarte
The Romance is a number from the ballet Pavana real, the music for which was composed in 1955. First staged at the Liceu in Barcelona on 17th December that same year, the ballet was inspired by the life and work of the great sixteenth-century vihuela-player and nobleman Luis de Milán, with a storyline by Victoria Kamhi. The score incorporates allusions to the music of Luis de Milán, as in the introduction to this song, whose anonymous lyrics were adapted by Victoria. (Joaquín Rodrigo)

Coplas del pastor enamorado
Written in Paris in 1935, this song sets lines from Lope de Vega’s La buena guarda, and is regarded as one of Rodrigo’s finest compositions. Critic Andrés Ruiz Tarazona has particularly praised the repetition of the opening stanza at the end of the song, its expressive power now heightened by a change in modality. The work was premièred at the École Normale, Paris, on 6th June 1939 by tenor Michel Benois, with Rodrigo at the piano.

Serranilla
This is just the second song in Rodrigo’s catalogue, and was composed and first performed in Paris in 1928. It sets a well-known text by the first Marquis of Santillana, a fifteenth-century Castilian poet and political figure, and the writing has echoes of that bygone age.

Aranjuez, ma pensée
This 1988 vocal-guitar adaptation of the Adagio from the Concierto de Aranjuez (written in Paris in 1939) is the result of another collaboration between the composer and his wife. Setting a French text, it represents their memories of life in Paris and of the many happy walks they took around the park and gardens of the Baroque Palace of Aranjuez, on the outskirts of Madrid.

Tres canciones españolas
De ronda • Adela • En Jerez de la Frontera

Like Una palomita blanca, these three songs are taken from the 1951 anthology Doce canciones españolas, whose première was given in 1952 at the Ateneo de Madrid by soprano Marimí del Pozo, accompanied (on piano) by Victoria Kamhi. They stand as one of the most significant contributions to the Spanish art-song tradition, and demonstrate the composer’s in-depth knowledge of his country’s traditional music. Although the settings have their roots in the Spanish folk repertoire, the results reflect Rodrigo’s own inimitable style.

Cuatro canciones sefardíes
Respóndemos • Una pastora yo ami

Victoria Kamhi was of Sephardic-Jewish descent, and it was she who chose and adapted the texts of this set of four songs. A Sephardic folk repertoire had been passed down by oral tradition, and Rodrigo undertook the difficult task of setting these texts to music.

Respóndemos is dedicated to his father-in-law Isaac Kamhi, and the eastern-influenced Castilian language of the text is echoed by Rodrigo’s music. In Una pastora yo ami, meanwhile, as musicologist Antonio Gallego has noted, Rodrigo again turned to the music of the past for inspiration, as he had done in Serranilla.

Cuatro madrigales amatorios
Vos me matasteis • De los álamos vengo, madre

One of Rodrigo’s most highly praised song cycles, Cuatro madrigales amatorios dates from 1947 and was first performed on 4th February 1948 by the four sopranos to whom its four madrigals were dedicated—Blanca María Seoane, Celia Langa, María de los Angeles Morales and Carmen Pérez Durías—with Rodrigo himself at the keyboard.

The songs bear witness to the composer’s fondness for drawing inspiration from the music of the Spanish Renaissance. Here he recreates sixteenth-century melodies in masterful fashion, updating them with the utmost taste and insight. Vos me matasteis and De los álamos vengo, madre are both by Juan Vázquez. The former is a simple reworking of the Renaissance original; the latter is the high point of the collection—strikingly elegant, fresh and subtle, in other words, unmistakably “Rodrigan”.

Texts courtesy of the Fundación Victoria y Joaquín Rodrigo
English version by Susannah Howe

In loving memory of José Ferrero (1972–2016)


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