Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Adagio from "Concierto de Aranjuez"

Written by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo, the adagio movement is from his famous guitar concerto. Written in 1939, and performed first in 1940 by the Barcelona Philharmonic, this was the first orchestral work written specifically for guitar. Following the premiere in Madrid, he was catapulted to instant fame and carried shoulder high around the city. With his ability to paint acoustical landscapes, Rodrigo synthesizes classical music to describe Aranjuez, an 18th century region bordering the river Tagus adjecent to Madrid.
The adagio movement begins with a simple repeated chord played by the guitarist, while the english horn sings a somber melody, (which becomes the theme for the rest of the movement), on top of a thin orchestral accompaniament. The guitar follows and embellishes this theme, with interplay between english horn/oboe and guitar following. This marks the opening statement of the movement. The soloist takes several cadenza-like breaks in which Rodrigo makes full use of the guitars ability to ornament the melody in an almost baroque like fashion. The composer makes full use of the orchestra in contrast to the quiet guitar, and often allows it soar with the melody, creating moments of great emotion. This slow meandering movement has few moments of rhythmic momentum, (unlike the fanfare-ish first movement), except for final guitar cadenza. It ends very similar to how it begins, with the guitar and orchestra fading into nothing.
There are very few obvious candences, with much of the piece is sewed together seemlessly between the orchestra and soloist. The form is also very ambiguous as much the adagio movement is simply a developement of the first minute of music.
Though I'm not a guitarist, this is one of my favorite orchestral works. I'm not the only one who thinks so either. There has been many arrangements of this piece, including a jazz rendition by Miles Davis included on his "Sketches of Spain album." Rodrigo has an amazing ability to envoke emotion through his composition, while telling a musical story with a Spanish flair.

1 comment:

Scott Spiegelberg said...

"Synthesizes" is usually used to talk about the combination of disparate influences to create something new. So I'm left wondering what Rodgrio synthesized classical music with. There are a few grammatical mistakes, otherwise a very good description.