The birth and death dates of the composers represented inthis recording span just over a century, during which the classic guitaremerged, reached its apogee, declined in popularity and finally began therenaissance that has now lasted for a further century.
Dionysio Aguado (1784-1849) was born in Madrid to aprosperous family, and this enabled him to give his whole time to studying theguitar and music with the Cistercian Father Basilio; he may also have studiedwith the Italian virtuoso Federico Moretti. In 1820 he published the firstvolume of his Escuela de la guitarra. After the death of his mother he moved toParis where he gained the respect of Rossini, Bellini, Paganini and others, andmet Fernando Sor (1778-1839) with whom he developed a close friendship andplayed in duo, testified by Sor's Les deux amis, Op.41. Aguado used the nailsof his right hand in playing but Sor did not, which does not appear to havedisturbed their relationship. It was during his thirteen years in Paris thatAguado composed all his most important works, amongst which are the TroisRondos brillants, in each of which the Rondo is preceded by a slowIntroduction. In 1838 Aguado returned to Spain to teach and to compile hisNuevo metodo para guitarra, a treatise that remains an important book ofreference even today.
Napoleon Coste (1806-1883) was born in the French village ofAmondans, of which his father, a former military man, was the mayor. He beganto play the guitar at the age of six, assisted by his mother, an amateurguitarist. A serious illness caused plans for him to follow in his father'smilitary footsteps to be abandoned. His devotion to the guitar continued,however, and after some notable successes in Valenciennes, where he lived inadolescence, he moved to Paris in 1830. There he met all the great guitaristsof the time, studied with Fernando Sor and took lessons in theory andcomposition. In 1863 he injured his right arm, after which it never fullyrecovered and his performing career ended. He continued, however, to teach andcompose, leaving an ceuvre of over 53 brilliant works. Les soirees d'Auteuil isthe last of his Sept morceaux episodiques, consisting of a Serenade andScherzo, both in 3/8 time.
Julian Arcas (1832-1882), born in Almeria in Spain, was famousas a flamenco guitarist and composer of national dances and small pieces. Theapogee of his fame was in the years 1860-70, during which he toured in centralEurope and played in the Brighton Pavilion in 1862 before members of theBritish Royal family. In 1864 he toured with a pianist, Patanas, with whom hewas living in Barcelona. He tired of 'life on the road' and retired (c.1870) toAlmeria, where he established a business and collaborated with the Sevillianluthier Antonio Torres in developing some features of the guitar. Finally hemoved to Antequera (Malaga) where he died after a short retirement. Arcas'music has been largely neglected by recording artists. The simple Andante inthis programme is a welcome addition to the very few pieces that have beenrecorded.
Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856) was born to a poor family inPressburg, the Hungarian Pozsony, now the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, wherehis only notable memorial is an annual competition in his name. He was a childprodigy on the guitar and flute. Little is known of his early life but by 1840he was ensconced in Vienna, enjoying royal patronage and touring widely inEurope. In 1842 he married Josephine Plantin, a pianist whose unwiseadministration of strychnine in 1846 aggravated an illness from which herecovered eighteen months later, thanks to her nursing. He died shortly beforehis magnum opus, the fifteen-volume Bardenklange was awarded the First Prize ina competition in Brussels, organised by his great admirer Nicolai Petrovich Makaroff.The virtuosic Fantaisie hongroise begins with a slow Introduction, followed bya csardas, a Hungarian national dance in two sections, slow and fast.
Giulio Regondi (1822-1872) may have been born in Geneva,though this is not certain. What is known is that his mother died inchildbirth, and a man called Regondi, who claimed to be his father, taught himto play the guitar and destroyed his childhood by forcing him to perform inpublic from the age of five, dressed up like Little Lord Fauntleroy, making himpractise for five hours a day, and stealing the money he earned. Regondi'ssuccess in Paris in 1830 was such that Sor and Carcassi dedicated works to him.In 1831 he came to London with his 'father', who soon absconded with Giulio'searnings; only the support of a wealthy patroness saved the boy fromstarvation. He remained in London for the rest of his life. Regondi was aformidable virtuoso and the composer of guitar music that combines extremetechnical difficulty with the charm of salon music at its best. The opusnumbers of his ceuvre indicate that many of his works remain to be rediscovered.
It was the work of Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909), born inthe Spanish town of Villareal, which, at a time when the popularity of theguitar had reached its nadir, triggered the instrument's renaissance in thetwentieth century. His importance was fourfold: in laying the basis of modernplaying technique, as a teacher, as the composer of numerous works, and inestablishing the art of adapting music originally written for other musicalmedia to the guitar. His performing career was limited in scope, free from anydream of conquering the world. It was on the basis of Tarrega's work thatAndres Segovia developed his own technique and other skills which, together withhis own ambition, enabled him to carry the guitar to all parts of the globe,making the 'renaissance' a reality. Tarrega's compositions were tailored to thetastes of the salon but display both refined musicality and aptitude to theguitar. His expressed intention of writing a book in which the technicaldetails of his 'school' would be clearly stated never came to fruition. Had itdone so it would almost certainly have included the sixteen Preludes, of whichthree are here included. Antonio Gallego has rightly described them as \Studiesof expression", works in which expressivity take precedence over technicallevel.
Miguel Llobet (1878-1938), a student of Tarrega, was bornand died in Barcelona. His debut recital was in Malaga in 1900 but it was afterhis first performance in Paris in 1905 that his career took wings that carriedhim all over Europe and the Americas. He may have been the first guitarist torecord using a microphone in 1926, one year before Segovia made his firstrecordings. His music ranges from charming and relatively simple settings ofCatalan folk-songs to virtuosic works such as those in this recording. It isstrange that Llobet should have believed the theme of the variations to havebeen composed by Fernando Sor; it is in fact the traditional ground of theFolias, on which Sor also wrote variations.
John W. Duarte
Anabel Montesinos was born in Reus, Tarragona, in 1984. Shestarted her musical education in the Escuela Municipal de L'Hospitalet deL'Infant in Tarragona at the age of six and was awarded a distinction for herelementary grade in 1996. From the age of ten she studied with Vania delMonaco, and in 1997 she began her intermediate level in the ConservatorioSuperior de M??sica of Tarragona, completing these in 2001. She is currentlystudying in the Conservatorio Superior de M??sica Oscar Espla in Alicante, inthe class of Ignacio Rodes. Her first solo concert took place in Mallorca whenshe was just twelve years old. She also took master-classes with ManuelBa