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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Perhaps surprisingly, Rodrigo did not write a great deal of solo guitar music, preferring to concentrate on his beloved piano. But what there is is undoubtedly memorable. The best-known work here is the Tres piezas españolas, of which the closing Zapateado is the most familiar. The young French guitarist Jérémy Jouve plays it brilliantly, although he is not a show-off artist, preferring musical values, which he displays in the sensitive account of the Andante moderato slow movement of the Sonata giocosa, yet finding plenty of life and sparkle in the outer movements, especially the boisterous finale. He is at his finest in Por los campos de España (‘In the Spanish Countryside’), a group of five miniature pictures, which he plays very evocatively. The duet works are also very well played, but are not as individual as the solo pieces.

American Record Guide, August 2008

The Concierto de Aranjuez is so staggeringly popular that the rest of Rodrigo's output is not heard often enough. His solo works are fascinating pieces, full of unique character, expression, and invention, which is what one asks from a great composer.

They are also challenging technically—ranging from the merely hard to the highest virtuoso demands. But you couldn't tell that from Jouve's playing. This is some of the smoothest, most effortless playing I've ever encountered. Everything is clear and controlled, no matter how rapid the tempo or how complex the texture. He has complete command of Rodrigo's style, and his performances are convincing and moving. His Rodrigo is subtle rather than dramatic, but perhaps that is best. The composer did, after all, say that the Aranjuez should only be as strong as a butterfly.

These works are all substantive, except for the 'Fandango del Ventorillo', which function; as an encore. The Tres Piezas has been recorded often, and often quite well. This is as fine as any. Por los Campos de España was first published only as a pair of works, 'En los Trigales' and 'Entre Olivares'. It is presented here as I set of five works, also including 'Junto al Generalife', 'Bajando de la Meseta', and 'El Tierras de Jerez'. The pieces were composed from 1938 to 1973, so it can hardly be thought of as a unified set, though the pieces work well together.

The Tonadilla was written for the magical Presti-Lagoya Duo in 1960. It is a great deal it fun—sort of the composer's salute to the semitone. Jouve, joined by Judicael Perroy, plays with gusto and humor.

Other players may be more dramatic in this repertory. You can't go wrong with Scott Tennant's two volumes on GFA (N/D 1996, J/A 2002), but Jouve's playing is masterly, and the disc is worth acquiring, especially at the Naxos price. This is marked Volume 1, so I look forward to the next set.

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, August 2008

This superb CD is Volume 1 of a projected series covering the entire solo guitar music of Joaquin Rodrigo, which consists of only 25 pieces. This is a surprisingly small number to those who only think of the composer in terms of his wildly popular guitar concerto, the Concierto de Aranjuez, but Rodrigo didn't play the instrument and, though he greatly admired both classical and flamenco guitarists, it only occupied a small portion of his output.

This is a shame, though, because Rodrigo's pieces, like those of his composition teacher Paul Dukas, are not only well-crafted gems in a basically tonal style that sounds neither dated nor predictable, but also convincingly manage to blend classical, folk, and flamenco styles in a seamless fashion.

These pieces, each and every one of them a gem, are a perfect indication. …one can never grow tired of listening to them!

Happily, Jérémy Jouve is fully up to the demands of this music. He has not only the technique but also the proper spirit for them, which is probably even more important. Not a single moment in any of the various movements on this CD passes by without complete commitment to drama as well as detail. Indeed, one might actually overlook his extraordinary technique for all the dramatic commitment of his playing. Judicaël Perroy, who joins him in the performance of Tonadilla, is equally up to the task. …This is how classical guitar should be played. Of previously recorded versions of these works, the only ones in the same class were those by Angel Romero on a now out-of-print RCA album (Por los campos, Sonata giocosa, Three Spanish Pieces), and the sound quality of the Naxos album is actually sharper, more clearly defined. You go, Jérémy!

Rick Jones
Classic FM, June 2008

Guitarist Jeremy Jouve devotes an entire CD to composer Joaquín Rodrigo and sounds as fresh at the end as at the start. The Tres piezas espanolas are exquisite appetisers before the Sonata Giocosa, Rodrigo's first work for solo guitar, which marked a major new voice when it appeared in the 1920s. The dissonance is utterly natural and did much to move the guitar out of its folksy origins. There are some dead passages in the long programmatic suite Por los campos, but sparks fly in the last item, Tonadilla, a riveting guitar duet for which Jouve is joined by Judicael Perroy. The Spanish guitar school thrives.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2008

The popularity of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto has led to a widespread belief that he was a major composer for the guitar. In reality he had never studied the instrument to the extent that he wrote with little appreciation of its technical boundaries. That resulted in scores that proved so challenging they moved the technical limits of performance. Much has been written about the poverty he and his wife had endured when in 1939 the Concerto brought him widespread recognition. Since then he has written a vast number of scores, but only twenty-five solo pieces. They are all imbued with colour and rhythmic attractions, a typical example coming in track 3, a moment of sheer bravura for the final Zapateado from Tres piezas espanolas. Rodrigo returned to the style of popular guitarists for Por los campos de Espana, a suite in five sections that picture scenes in country life. I suppose we always think of Rodrigo as a musical prisoner locked within the style that made him famous in the Concerto, but the Toradilla for two guitars from 1960 is a harmonically adventurous three-movement suite written for the famous Presti-Lagoya Duo. The opening Allegro is certainly ear-catching its is modernity, and throughout you feel a new wave of inspiration in his writing. The disc features the French guitarist, Jeremy Jouve, who gave his first concert at the age of thirteen and went on to win so many awards. He is a player with a very sensitive right hand to work on the subtle colours, but steely enough to extract the required brilliance. I particularly enjoyed his reading of the Sonata giocosa where he showed a freedom of expression that brings life to music. In the duo and arrangement of the piano work, Fandango del ventorillo, Judicael Perroy is an admirable partner, their tone combining rather than complementing. Naxos’s fabulous guitar studio in Canada turn out another fine product.

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