"Memories of the Alhambra" with Guitarist Jason Vieaux

Jan 7, 2016

Spanish composer-guitarist Francisco Tarrega's masterful Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra), written in 1896, evokes an even earlier bygone Romantic era of Spain.

With its beautiful slow-moving melody played with a fast tremolo by three fingers of the right hand creating the illusion of a continuously sustained note, the thumb plays a counter melody on the bass strings. It's musical magic and sounds like two guitars playing at once.

Guitarist Jason Vieaux, who won a Grammy last year for his solo guitar CD, "Play," can be heard playing this wonderful piece by Tarrega on the next Fretworks.

I'll also have a late 19th century work that features the mandolin and guitar by Carlo Munier, an Italian mandolinist who strove to have the mandolin accepted as a serious instrument, writing more than 350 works for it. The Mandolin Concerto No. 1 with Detlef Tewes on mandolin and guitarist Boris Bjorn Bagger will be featured in a 2003 Hanssler Classic CD from Germany. David Russell will perform music from his CD "The Grandeur of the Baroque" with his own arrangement a keyboard suite by Francois Couperin.

The big work for the hour is the Guitar Quintet from 1950 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. The composer emigrated from Italy to the United States in 1939, and in addition to writing Hollywood film scores wrote some very fine music for the guitar. Japanese guitarist Kazuhito Yamashita and the Tokyo String Quartet will be featured in a 1991 recording from RCA.

The combination of a guitar and string quartet was a form much liked by late 18th century composer Luigi Boccherini, who spent the latter part of his life at the court of Madrid and wrote a number of guitar quintets. The quintet by Castelnuovo-Tedesco follows the classical string quartet model pretty closely, but in place of the expected minuet in the third movement, he gives us a tango.

Join me for Fretworks Saturday and Wednesday evenings at 7 on Classical 101.