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Kenneth Keaton
American Record Guide, July 2011

…this is a promising recital from a talented artist, and I look forward to hearing more from him.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Oleg Ledeniov
MusicWeb International, April 2011

The key to this recording is in the small phrase that ends the booklet: “Vicente Coves wishes to dedicate this recording to his mother and the memory of his father”. For me it made everything clear. For the most part, this is a disc of tender, caring, quiet music—very beautiful and played with ultimate sensitivity and compassion.

It starts with Ponce’s Preludio, which does not foretell what will follow. This piece, with the momentum of a Bach courante, stands apart from the rest, which is more relaxed, more melancholic, and more Latin. This is the short busy morning, which leads us into a long and quiet evening. There we hear another of Ponce’s creations, the beautiful, wistful Chanson from his Third Sonata; Coves sings every note.

There are two pieces by Celedonio (“Papa”) Romero. Guasa is like a big music-box: a mechanical melody spins over ostinato arpeggios in the bass. This cheerful note-weaving resembles the music of Joaquín Rodrigo. Tango Angelita is a mainstream tango (not from the nuevo branch), in passionate purple hues.

From purple we move to the lightest blue in Brouwer’s charming lullaby. Its soft rocking motion is lit by a smile. Coves plays with care, as if sculpting the music out of thin air. Al Maestro by Morel, a tribute to Celedonio Romero, is the longest work on the disc. It is a nebula of static disjoint splashes, out of which emerge stormy or toccata-like episodes, only to dissolve back into the pensive mist. El reloj by Roberto Cantoral is a beautiful, calm song of the mood-fixing kind—that one that you can put on Repeat indefinitely.

La catedral by Agustín Barrios Mangoré is one of the most beautiful pieces written for guitar. Its first part, Saudade, has the fragile, plaintive ‘ting-a-ling’ of a Bach siciliana. The simplicity of design and the harmonic sequence reminds me of the C-Major Prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier but moved to a minor key. The middle part, Andante religioso, continues with a blend of Latin sadness and Bachian transparency. It is meditative and spacious, like the interior of a cathedral. The work ends with tempestuous runs of Allegro solemne, the parallel of the C-minor Prelude from the WTC.

I don’t know what Iradier’s famous La Paloma is doing in a Latin-American collection. Maybe the guitarist or one of the disc’s dedicatees had a sentimental spot for it. Anyway, this sweet and sensual habañera fits there perfectly. The reading is rather slow and a bit “tipsy”, savoring the notes like good wine. It is long on good-feeling longueurs, those you don’t want to end.

Vicente Coves is a composer himself, and his Chelitango is proof of his composing prowess. It is a complex piece, with the mood ranging between melancholic and tragic. The first theme is tender and reflective, as in Piazzolla’s Adios Nonino. Then we move to more agitated episodes. Again, we meet some familiar Piazzolla strokes, when the music of wind and rain gives way to a sad smile, like a shy sunbeam. In his liner-note, Coves writes about Piazzolla and how difficult it is “to avoid, albeit partially, his influence and to find a new path after his work”. I think he did very well. This is beautiful music, and the composer himself plays it as no one else.

Barrios’s Saudades appear through the golden-threaded fabric in a structure that is tripartite. Chopinesque spinning in the outer parts frames a more reflective middle episode.

Alfonsina y el mar is a poignant, sad song made popular by Mercedes Sosa and Nana Mouskouri. Then it was taken up by virtually everybody from Plácido Domingo to Shakira. And this is understandable: it is hard to pass by such a touching and memorable melody, a true sister of Manhã de Carnaval. The arrangement by Coves is gentle and dreamy.

Vicente Coves was a student of Pepe Romero, and it shows. His technique is excellent, his command of the sound is absolute, and he plays just beautifully. The amount of extra-musical noise is minimal. The recording is faithful and spacious, and preserves well the aura of the guitar. All in all, this is a lovely recording…

V. Vasan, March 2011

Classical guitarist Vicente Coves, who is also a composer, arranger, and the writer of the liner notes for this album, is a musical force to be reckoned with. A student of renowned Pepe Romero (himself one of the three guitarist sons of legendary Celedonio Romero), Coves is clearly an artist whose star is on the rise, as demonstrated by this 2011 release. From the first track, Preludio, with its playful rhythms to the tempo—and mood-changing Al Maestro, Coves is capable of playing everything with a keen sense of the spirit of the music. Coves excels at pieces like Canción de cuna, which is so poignant, ethereal, and heartbreakingly intimate that it is almost difficult to hear the piece begin. One highlight of the album is the ultra-modern Chelitango Coves himself wrote in 2004, which leaves the listener wishing for more works composed by the artist. There is no doubting Coves’ technique or his skilled musicianship that allows him to handle rubato gracefully and convey a variety of emotions. However, this talented artist has made some questionable repertoire choices on this album. After the first five pieces, one starts to feel that this is all beautiful, contemplative music, albeit a bit repetitive in mood. Only halfway through the album is there a piece with a lot of continuous motion that flows actively, in the Allegro solemne, and the passion in Alfonsina y el mar is so enjoyable that one wishes he would push the edge more as an artist and choose more pieces that require this type of energy. Perhaps the greatest flaw of this album is his choice of Piazzolla’s Chiquilín de Bachín, which sounds horribly out of place. After an album of nonverbal solo guitar, the piece begins with a narrator, which is extremely jarring, and the piano enters afterward. Only much later does the guitar appear, but it is overwhelmed by the voice and the piano. It is simply too much on this album of delicacy and beauty. This is a good lesson for any artist: it is not enough to play beautifully, for in recording an album, one must think carefully about the succession of choices and the programming. But in no way does this diminish Coves’ musicianship. © 2011

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2011

A disc of Latin-American ‘lollypops’ from the highly experienced Spanish guitarist, Vincent Coves. One-time pupil of the legendary Pepe Romero, Coves had the great distinction of being awarded the 2008 Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory’s Rubinstein Medal, and already has to his name two Naxos albums as the guitarist of the Versus Ensemble. Here he plays fifteen tracks largely given to pieces that I seem to remember on previous Naxos guitar discs. They include Leo Bouwer’s delectably smoochy, Cancion de cuna, and Agustin Barrios Mangore’s much recorded three pieces that form La catedral. The most extended score comes from Jorge Morel with the multicoloured, Al Maestro, in memory of the legendary Celedonio Romero. It asks questions of the soloist’s technique, Coves answering with considerable agility and brilliance. Particularly enjoyable is the soloist’s arrangement of Robert Cantoral’s song El reloj, and Sebastian Iradier’s highly popular, La Paloma. Coves own work, Chelitango, leads us to his transcription for singer, narrator, guitar and piano of Astor Piazzolla’s Chiquilin de Bachin. Ariel Ramirez’s Alfonsina y el mar and Celedonio Romero’s Tango Angelita and Guasa, and Ariel Ramirez’s Alfonsina y el mar, are the disc’s remaining major tracks. A drawback comes in a booklet that fails to tell us anything about the words of the Piazzolla, and you do have to have a taste for rustic South American folk singing to enjoy the track. I welcome Coves as a guitarist who moves almost noiselessly around the strings.

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