Concierto de Aranjuez

Monument devoted to Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto in the city of Aranjuez

The Concierto de Aranjuez is a composition for classical guitar and orchestra by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Written in 1939, it is probably Rodrigo’s best-known work, and its success established his reputation as one of the most significant Spanish composers of the twentieth century.

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Contents

Concerto

Inspiration

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

The Concierto de Aranjuez was inspired by the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez, the spring resort palace and gardens built by Philip II in the last half of the 16th century and rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century by Ferdinand VI. The work attempts to transport the listener to another place and time through the evocation of the sounds of nature.

According to the composer, the first movement is “animated by a rhythmic spirit and vigour without either of the two themes… interrupting its relentless pace”; the second movement “represents a dialogue between guitar and solo instruments (cor anglais, bassoon, oboe, horn etc.)”; and the last movement “recalls a courtly dance in which the combination of double and triple time maintains a taut tempo right to the closing bar.” He described the concerto itself as capturing “the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains” in the gardens of Aranjuez.

Rodrigo and his wife Victoria stayed silent for many years about the inspiration for the second movement, and thus the popular belief grew that it was inspired by the bombing of Guernica in 1937. In her autobiography, Victoria eventually declared that it was both an evocation of the happy days of their honeymoon and a response to Rodrigo’s devastation at the miscarriage of their first pregnancy. It was composed in 1939 in Paris.[1]

Rodrigo dedicated the Concierto de Aranjuez to Regino Sainz de la Maza.[2]

Rodrigo, blind since age three, was a pianist. He did not play the guitar, yet he still managed to capture the spirit of the guitar in Spain.

Composition

Composed in early 1939, in Paris, amid the tensions of the pending war, it was the first work Rodrigo had written for guitar and orchestra. The instrumentation is unusual: rarely does the guitar face the forces of a full orchestra. Instead, the guitar is never overwhelmed, remaining the solo instrument throughout.

Movements

This concerto is in three movements, Allegro con spirito, Adagio and Allegro gentile.

The second movement, the best-known of the three, is marked by its slow pace and quiet melody, introduced by the English horn, with a soft accompaniment by the guitar and strings. A feeling of quiet regret permeates the piece. Ornamentation is added gradually to the melody in the beginning. An off-tonic trill in the guitar creates the first seeds of tension in the piece; they grow and take hold, but relax back to the melody periodically. Eventually, a climactic build-up starts. This breaks back into the main melody, molto appassionato, voiced by the strings with accompaniment from the woodwinds. The piece finally resolves to a calm arpeggio from the guitar, though it is the strings in the background rather than the guitar’s final note that resolve the piece. The third movement is in mixed metre, alternating between 2/4 and 3/4.

Premiere

Concierto de Aranjuez Premiere
Date 9 November 1940
Guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza
Orchestra Orquesta Filarmónica de Barcelona
Conductor César Mendoza Lasalle
Venue Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona

On 11 December 1940 the concerto received its first performance in Madrid, at the Teatro Español de Madrid conducted by Jesús Arámbarri, with the same soloist, de la Maza.

Interpretations

A number of musicians have since reinterpreted the work, usually the second movement, perhaps most famously jazz legend Miles Davis in the company of arranger Gil Evans. On the album Sketches of Spain (1960), Davis says: “That melody is so strong that the softer you play it, the stronger it gets, and the stronger you play it, the weaker it gets.” Violinist Ikuko Kawai‘s version, “Aranjuez”, is an upbeat, faster update to the work. Clarinettist Jean-Christian Michel‘s transcription of “Aranjuez” has sold some 1,500,000 copies.[citation needed] Guitarist Buckethead covered “Sketches of Spain” on his album Electric Tears as a tribute to Miles Davis. Bassist Buster Williams performs a solo bass transcription of the second movement of Concierto de Aranjuez on his album Griot Liberté (2006).

Until asked to perform and interpret Concierto de Aranjuez in 1991, the Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía was not proficient at reading musical notation. De Lucía claimed in Paco de Lucía-Light and Shade: A Portrait that he gave greater emphasis to rhythmical accuracy in his interpretation of the Concierto at the expense of the perfect tone preferred by classical guitarists. Joaquín Rodrigo later declared that no one had ever played his composition in such a brilliant manner.

The legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea used the beginning of the second movement as an introduction to his hit composition Spain. Al Jarreau used the same intro in his arrangement of Spain as a vocalese.

A major interpretation of the Concierto, which stands strongly with Miles Davis’s Sketches rendition, is that by Jim Hall on his 1975 album, Concierto (also featuring Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, Ron Carter, Steve Gadd, and Roland Hanna). Hall’s strong lyricism and outstanding sense of tone particularly giving the piece (performed in full and running to over 19 minutes) an understated power. The Concierto is, in many ways, the centrepiece of the album which is often regarded as Jim Hall’s peak.

The piece also featured in the film Brassed Off, with Ewan McGregor, and was played by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band. In that film, it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Concierto d’Orangejuice.’ This is a familiar name in the brass band community (although it is often shortened to ‘Orange Juice’); the arrangement they refer to was created by Kevin Bolton.

The Modern Jazz Quartet has several recordings of the Concierto, one with Laurindo Almeida, another on the Last Concert CD and In Memoriam CD. Jim Roberts of Orlando FL, has two recordings, one with his trio and another with his Saxtet, both very listenable arrangements.

A version entitled “Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto” was released by The Shadows in 1979.

A version of the Adagio was released as a single entitled “Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto” by Geoff Love, (under the name of Manuel & the Music of the Mountains) in 1976. This reached No. 3 in the British singles chart.

Lebanese female singer Fairuz has also used the music of the second movement on one of her songs “Le Bairut” (To Beirut). Also the Egyptian born Greek singer Demis Roussos used the same music for his song “Follow Me”. In 1967, the French singer Richard Anthony brought out a single named “Aranjuez Mon Amour”, with lyrics by Guy Bontempelli.

Led Zeppelin’s keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones incorporated parts of the music during an improvisation section of their song “No Quarter” on their 1977 tour.

André Rieu performed the piece accompanied by the church bells of Maastricht in a performance available on the DVD Songs From My Heart.

Rodrigo’s title of nobility

On 30 December 1991, Rodrigo was raised to the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the title of Marqués de los Jardines de Aranjuez (English: Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez).[3]

Popularity

The Adagio is likely the most famous, and most recognizable part of the piece, and used in numerous movies, television shows, and commercials. Consequently many people will have heard Concierto de Aranjuez without knowing its title or composer. Many listeners and musicians assume that the piece is much older than it is, which became a problem for Rodrigo, since performers frequently failed to pay him royalties because they assumed the piece was out of copyright (as happened with the Davis/Evans Sketches of Spain version, for instance).[citation needed]

References

Other sources

  • Preface to the Ernst Eulenburg edition of the work, EE6785
  • Duarte, John W., (1997). Liner notes. Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez, etc. CD. EMI Classics 7243 5 56175 2 1.
  • Haldeman, Philip. “Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez; Fantasia para un Gentilhombre”. American Record Guide. March-April 1998: pp.182-183.
  • Wade, Graham (1985). Joaquín Rodrigo and the Concierto de Aranjuez. New York: Mayflower. ISBN 0946896151

External links

Audio

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Joaquín Rodrigo

 

Bust of Joaquín Rodrigo in Rosario city, Santa Fe, Argentina

Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre, 1st Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez (November 22, 1901 – July 6, 1999), commonly known as Joaquín Rodrigo, was a composer of classical music and a virtuoso pianist. Despite being nearly blind from an early age, he achieved great success. Rodrigo’s music counts among some of the most popular of the 20th century, particularly his Concierto de Aranjuez, considered one of the pinnacles of the Spanish music and guitar concerto repertoire.

Contents

Life

He was born in Sagunto, Valencia, and almost completely lost his sight at the age of three after contracting diphtheria. He began to study solfège, piano and violin at the age of eight; harmony and composition from the age of sixteen. Although distinguished by having raised the Spanish guitar to dignity as a universal concert instrument and best known for his guitar music, he never mastered the instrument himself. He wrote his compositions in braille, which was transcribed for publication.

Rodrigo studied music under Francisco Antich in Valencia and under Paul Dukas at the École Normale de Musique in Paris. After briefly returning to Spain, he went to Paris again to study musicology, first under Maurice Emmanuel and then under André Pirro. His first published compositions[1] date from 1940. In 1943 he received Spain’s National Prize for Orchestra for Cinco piezas infantiles (“Five Children’s Pieces”), based on his earlier composition of the same piece for two pianos, premiered by Ricardo Viñes. From 1947 Rodrigo was a professor of music history, holding the Manuel de Falla Chair of Music in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, at Complutense University of Madrid.

His most famous work, Concierto de Aranjuez, was composed in 1939 in Paris, and in later life he and his wife declared that it was written as a response to the miscarriage of their first child.[2] It is a concerto for guitar and orchestra. The central adagio movement is one of the most recognizable in 20th century classical music, featuring the interplay of guitar with English horn. This movement was later adapted by the conductor Gil Evans for Miles Davis‘ 1960 album Sketches of Spain. The Concerto was adapted by the composer himself for Harp and Orchestra and dedicated to Nicanor Zabaleta.

The success of this concerto led to commissions from a number of prominent soloists, including the flautist James Galway and the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber for whom Rodrigo composed his Concierto como un divertimento and Concierto serenata for Harp and Orchestra dedicated to Nicanor Zabaleta. In 1954 Rodrigo composed Fantasía para un gentilhombre at the request of Andrés Segovia. His Concierto Andaluz, for four guitars and orchestra, was commissioned by Celedonio Romero for himself and his three sons.

None of Rodrigo’s works, however, achieved the popular and critical success of the Concierto de Aranjuez and the Fantasia para un gentilhombre. These two works are very often paired in recordings.

On 30 December 1991, Rodrigo was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the hereditary title of Marqués de los Jardines de Aranjuez[3][4] (English: Marqui of the Gardens of Aranjuez). He received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award—Spain’s highest civilian honor—in 1996. He was named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1998.

He married Victoria Kamhi, a Turkish-born pianist whom he had met in Paris, on 19 January 1933, in Valencia. Their daughter, Cecilia, was born 27 January 1941. Rodrigo died in 1999 in Madrid at the age of 97 and was succeeded as Marqués de los Jardines de Aranjuez by his daughter. Joaquín Rodrigo and his wife Victoria are buried at the cemetery at Aranjuez.

Works

Orchestral

  • Symphonic Wind Ensemble
    • Adagio Para Orquesta de Instrumentos de Viento – First public performance in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1966
  • Orchestra
    • Soleriana- First performance by the Berlin Philharmonic, on August 22, 1953 in Berlin.
    • Per la flor del Lliri Blau (1934); First prize, Círculo de Bellas Artes symphonic poem

Concertante

  • Piano
  • Violin
    • Concierto de estío (1944)

Instrumental

  • Guitar
    • Three Spanish Pieces – Tres Piezas Espanolas (Fandango, Passacaglia, Zapateado) (1954)
    • Invocación y danza (1961) — First prize, Coupe International de Guitare, awarded by Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF)
    • Elogio de la guitarra (1971)
    • Two Preludes
    • En Los Trigales
    • Sonata Giocosa
    • Toccata

Vocal/Choral

  • Ausencias de Dulcinea (1948); First prize, Cervantes Competition
  • Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios (1948)
  • Tres viejos aires de danza (1994)
  • Villancicos y canciones de navidad (1952); Ateneo de Madrid Prize;
  • Cuatro canciones sephardies (1965);
  • El Hijo Fingido, Zarzuela;
  • Porque toco el pandero

Guitar and Voice

  • Coplas del Pastor Enamorado (1935)
  • Tres Canciones Espanola (1951)
  • Tres Villancicos (1952)
  • Romance de Durante (1955)
  • Folías Canarias (1958)
  • Aranjuez, ma pensée (1988)

References

  1. ^ A suite for piano, and “Dos esbozos”, suite for piano and violín and Siciliana, for cello
  2. ^ BBC Radio 4, 20 Oct 2009, The Sound of Magnolias. Irma Kurtz investigates Spanish composer Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez. (Downloadable audio documentary)
  3. ^Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez“; since 1999, his daughter Cecilia Rodrigo Camhi, has been 2nd Marquesa de los Jardines de Aranjuez.
  4. ^ http://boe.es/boe/dias/1991/12/31/pdfs/A42047-42047.pdf
  • Kamhi de Rodrigo, Victoria; translated by Ellen Wilkerson (1992). Hand in Hand With Joaquín Rodrigo: My Life at the Maestro’s Side. Pittsburgh: Latin American Literary Review Press. ISBN 093548051X

External links

Articles

Recordings

Videos

DVD containing: Shadows and Light documentary, Concierto de Aranjuez
Spanish nobility
New title Marquess of Jardines de Aranjuez
30 December 1991–6 July 1999
Succeeded by
Cecilia Rodrigo Kamhi
Persondata
Name Rodrigo, Joaquin
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