Album Review: SOUL OF THE SPANISH GUITAR (Pablo Sáinz-Villegas)

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by Connor McCormick on November 19, 2020

in CD-DVD,Music


So, at first I thought “another Andrés Segovia for Brunch-like album”? Not that that’s a bad thing, but Pablo Sáinz-Villegas truly surprised me. He makes his guitar sing like an orchestra. Even the plucks go from a tinkle to a pounding. When supreme virtuosity is coupled with lightness of touch, when passion is combined with melancholy and when the six strings of the guitar vibrate like a single heartbeat, then Sáinz-Villegas is in his element. For his latest album, Soul of the Spanish Guitar, this exceptional artist has chosen ten works that are especially close to his heart: “Spanish music represents a blend of different influences,” he explains, because “the harmonies, rhythms and melodies of a whole range of folk traditions” come together here. These traditions are not just Arab and Christian but others, too. In the music that has been written for the Spanish guitar, listeners may recognize “the voice of an entire nation”. Here is a language based on “the centuries-old peaceful coexistence of a variety of different cultures”.

Sáinz-Villegas’s offers some of the best-known works ever written for the guitar. But it is two composers above all who are central to his interest: Francisco Tárrega, who is represented by Recuerdos de la Alhambra, Capricho Árabe, Gran jota de concierto and Lágrima, while Isaac Albéniz’s contributions include Asturias and Mallorca. Taken together, the works that have been recorded here form nothing more nor less than “the essence and soul of the Spanish guitar”. Among the central sources of inspiration of these works is folk music, notably the jota, a dance that Pablo Sáinz-Villegas often performed in his youth. The “Intermezzo” from Gerónimo Giménez’s La boda de Luis Alonso constitutes a tribute to the zarzuela, a quintessential Spanish genre that is a synthesis of one-act opera, theatre, drama and comedy.


Soul of the Spanish Guitar
Pablo Sáinz-Villegas
Sony Masterworks
10 tracks | 53 minutes | released October 14, 2020
available on Amazon

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