Spanish Classics - Rodrigo: Complete Orchestral Works Vol 9
The Concierto serenata for harp and orchestra is Rodrigo's finest concerto, the one best suited to its solo instrument, with tunes and timbres that reveal the composer's gracious lyricism (and disguise his near total lack of dramatic tension) to best effect. A harp, of course, sounds sort of like a guitar, and more so--much wider in range, dynamics, and sonorous potential. So it should come as no surprise that the Concierto de Aranjuez works even better in this, the composer's own transcription. The problem with the original version is that the guitar is usually inaudible unless the orchestra is kept down to the point where you wonder why it's there at all. Today of course, amplification helps, but it can't entirely conceal the basic mismatch of timbres.
These performances are splendid. Gwyneth Wentink commands a lovely, liquid tone that doesn't thin out excessively in the instrument's upper register, and she's perfectly balanced against the larger ensemble. Conductor Maximiano Valdes accompanies with spirit, and the orchestra plays this never very difficult music with the sweetness and purity Rodrigo's melodies require. I'm sure some listeners will disagree with me here (particularly guitar enthusiasts) about the relative merits of the two versions of the Concierto de Aranjuez, but Rodrigo's music with harp permits an additional touch of textural opulence otherwise missing in his orchestral writing. This disc is pure pleasure, plain and simple.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: 8555843
Composer: Joaquín Rodrigo
Conductor: Maximiano Valdes
Orchestra/Ensemble: Principality of Asturias Symphonic Orchestra
Performer: Gwyneth Wentink