Concierto de Aranjuéz (1939) for guitar and orchestra
Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999)
- Allegro con spirito
- Allegro gentile
Along with Manuel de Falla, Joaquin Rodrigo is Spain’s best-known 20th century composer, famous for his concertos. Blinded by diphtheria at age three, Rodrigo composed in braille, subsequently transcribed for performance. He studied in Paris, including under Paul Dukas, before returning to Madrid with his wife in 1939, after the Spanish Civil War. Primarily a pianist, Rodrigo did not play the guitar, but is best known for his works that elevated the status of the Spanish guitar as a concert instrument. In 1991, King Juan Carlos awarded Rodrigo the hereditary title of Marqués de los Jardines de Aranjuez (Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez). Aranjuez is the former summer palace of the Bourbon kings, located outside Madrid.
The Concierto de Arenjuez, was written in Paris shortly before Rodrigo returned to Spain. It was premiered in Barcelona by the guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza to whom it is dedicated, and who had suggested its composition. The concerto was an immediate success and brought Rodrigo international fame. Today it is a pinnacle of both Spanish 20th century music and the virtuoso guitar repertoire.
Rodrigo said of his concerto: “It should sound like the hidden breeze that stirs the treetops in the parks, as strong as a butterfly, as dainty as a verónica [a bullfighting move]”. The skilfully orchestrated work is a brilliant fusion of baroque form and older Spanish folk melodies, with an unmistakably Spanish flavour given a distinctive modern twist by Rodrigo. The strongly rhythmical outer movements rely on an interplay of different time signatures. The central Adagio is a lament for the death of Rodrigo’s infant son. The famous opening cor anglais theme is based on the saeta, an Andalusian lament sung by women during Holy Week.
Performed: September 2017