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Monday, September 11, 2017

Federico Moreno Tórroba - Guitar Concertos Vol. 1 (Pepe Romero; Vicente Coves)


Composer: Federico Moreno Tórroba
  • (01-04) Concierto en Flamenco
  • (05-08) Diálogos entre guitarra y orquesta
  • (09-13) Aires de La Mancha
  • (14-16) Suite castellana

Pepe Romero, guitar (1-4, 9-13)
Vicente Coves, guitar (5-8, 14-16)
Málaga Philharmonic Orchestra
Manuel Coves, conductor

Date: 2015
Label: Naxos




Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982) is known today for billions of little guitar pieces that dot just about every Spanish guitar collection. You might assume from this that he was either a composer of little consequence, or one of those guys who lived forever but wrote only a tiny amount of music. He was neither. In Spain he is best known as the composer of Luisa Fernanda (1932), one of the greatest and most popular of Zarzuelas. You might call it the “West Side Story” of Spain. He also wrote operas and concert works, including ten concerted pieces for guitar and orchestra, all of which Naxos proposes to record in this new series.

Now I have to confess, the very thought of more guitar music CDs makes me want to scream. We get solicited to review at least a dozen new ones every month, but this is different. Torroba was a major composer, a far more interesting creative personality than, say, the better known Rodrigo, and it’s not as though we suffer from a glut of good modern guitar concertos (other than those of Leo Brouwer). So the prospect of three discs devoted to the Torroba guitar concertos is an exciting one, and this disc marks an auspicious beginning.

You would expect Pepe Romero to excel at the Concierto en Flamenco–he knew the composer and he is fully at home in both classical and Flamenco guitar. The piece is gorgeous, the performance vibrant and passionate. Here and in the following Diálogos entre guitarra y orquesta, it’s great to be able to forget about classical forms (each piece has four movements instead of the usual three) and simply revel in the bold contrasts and captivating melodies with which Torroba festoons both works. Writing for guitar and orchestra isn’t easy–the two really have no business together–but Torroba’s scoring masterfully supports the soloist while never denying the orchestra the opportunity to assert itself boldly and colorfully.

The soloist in Diálogos is Romero’s gifted pupil, Vicente Coves, who plays as well as his mentor, and whose brother leads the orchestra vividly and sympathetically. Both guitarists also offer a solo piece. Romero presents Aires de La Mancha, and Coves the Suite Castellana, which dates from around 1920 and contains the composer’s first essay for solo guitar (Danza). The engineering, happily, is uniformly excellent, with particularly well-judged balances between solos and the orchestra. Even if you think you’ve heard it all when it comes to guitar music, you will want this disc and, I suspect, the whole series.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

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Federico Moreno Torroba (3 March 1891 – 12 September 1982) was a Spanish composer, conductor, and theatrical impresario. He is especially remembered for his important contributions to the classical guitar repertoire, becoming one of the leading twentieth-century composers for the instrument. He was also one of the foremost composers of zarzuelas, a form of Spanish light opera. In addition, he composed ballets, symphonic works, and piano pieces, as well as one-act operas and one full-length opera, El poeta, which premiere in 1980, starring well-known tenor Plácido Domingo.


Pepe Romero (born March 8, 1944 in Málaga, Spain) is a classical and flamenco guitarist. He is the second son of guitarist and composer Celedonio Romero, who was his only guitar teacher. Romero is particularly famous for his outstanding technique and colorful musical interpretations on the instrument. Since his first recording in 1959, he has recorded over 60 albums, including 20 concerti and 30 albums as part of the famed guitar quartet The Romeros. His contributions to the field of classical guitar have inspired a number of distinguished composers to write works specifically for him.


Vicente Coves (born 1982 in Linares, Jaén, Andalucía) is a classical Spanish guitarist. Coves lived in Linares until 1997, when he moved to Granada. He began his musical studies with his brother, the pianist and conductor, Manuel Coves. Since 1997 he has been a disciple of the legendary Pepe Romero. Since 2003, he belongs to the Versus Ensemble. In 2008 he was awarded the Rubinstein Medal by the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. His career has brought him international acclaim, with appearances in many countries. Coves is the founder and president of the European Guitar Foundation.


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