Roberto Moronn Perez: Viva Segovia! (CD review)

Roberto Moronn Perez, guitar. Reference Recordings Fresh! FR-723.

This is, I believe, the third album in a series of Reference Recordings Fresh! recordings of music dedicated to or commissioned by the virtuoso Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia, the program again performed by guitarist Roberto Moronn Perez. The disc contains selections from seven composers, all of them originally published in the Segovia Archive Series.

"If today we can talk about the guitar as a concert instrument, it is undoubtedly thanks to Andres Segovia (1893-1987). His charisma, both as a person and as an artist, was a magnet for composers eager to write music for him, and to give to the guitar a repertoire of the quality available to other classical musicians. Until then, it had been mainly restricted to music written by guitarists themselves." So writes Mr. Perez in a booklet note for the present album. He goes on to say, "My goal in this recording, as it was in my two previous ones, is to put together a high-quality programme of little-known, or in some cases, almost totally neglected gems excluded from the guitar repertoire, and to bring new life to these works, playing with the conviction that this music requires."

As I said about Mr. Perez in an earlier review, he does justice to each composer. Perez plays with flair but also with nuance and subtlety. His guitar opens up each work and expands it seemingly beyond the limits of a single instrument. Although you won't find any (or if you are a dedicated classical guitar fan, many) familiar pieces here, if you are like me you will find each work entertaining, touching, or enlivening.

The program begins and ends with the Swiss composer Hans Haug (1900-1967), starting with the lighter, showier Etude (Rondo fantastico) and ending with the heavier Passacaglia. The former allows Perez to get things off to a zesty start (and display his dazzling finger work); the latter, a more solemn affair, reminds us just how well the guitarist can shade a piece.

Roberto Moronn Perez
Next, we get Sonatina by the English composer Cyril Scott (1879-1970). It's in three movements labeled Adagio quasi introdustione, molto moderato; Allegretto pensoso; and Finale. It's quite lovely, and it offers Perez the opportunity for some wide contrasts in style and tempo.

After those, we find Quatre Pieces pour la guitare from a familiar name, English composer Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989). Berkeley titled the pieces Moderato ma con brio, Andante on moto, Lento (Mouvement de Sarabande), and Allegro, energico. They are delightful, introspective, tender, and lively by turns.

Following the Berkeley numbers we have Sonata in mi by the Italian composer Ettore Desderi (1892-1974). The four movements are Preludio, Arioso, Scherzo, and Toccata. Perez plays the work just as I would imagine Desderi intended: in a simple, straightforward, disciplined manner, the music all the more appealing for the approach. The Scherzo is especially charming, the Toccata imposing.

Then there is a single piece each from the Swiss composer Aloys Fornerod (1890-1965): Prelude; and the only female represented on the disc, the Swiss composer Fernande Peyrot (1888-1978): Theme et variations. Perez performs them with style and refinement.

Producer, engineer, and editor John Taylor recorded the album at Holy Trinity Church, Weston, Hertfordshire, UK in October 2015. As with the previous albums in the series, Keith O. Johnson of Reference Recordings did the final mastering. Taylor recorded Perez and his guitar at just the right distance to capture a realistic presence, with a slight reverberation and a mildly warm flavor. Detailing is not as crystal clear as it might be with a more close-up miking arrangement, but everything sounds rich and lifelike.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click on the forward arrow:


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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

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It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa