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Tripling Spanish Classics: New Guitar Trios

Impressions of Spain The Great Necks Trio Navona 6430 Total Time: 70:08 Recording: ****/**** Performance: ****/****

The Great Necks Guitar Trio is noted for its innovative programming and artistry. They also like to explore new arrangements for their unique combination and that is what has led to the current release. Guitarist Gregg Nestor arranged and transcribed five works by five 20th-Century composers known for their explorations of Spanish rhythms and local color.

Overall this is an interesting program that does not just aim for the more familiar. The album opens with three selections from Isaac Albeniz's operetta The Black Opal, which though set in Greece, still has some delightful rhythmic influences not far removed from the composer's Spanish roots. Coming from some of Ravel's final work, the song cycle Don Quichotte a Dulcinee finds new life in this arrangement of three songs that explore interesting meters and syncopation in the midst of some interesting harmonic movement. There are examples of different Spanish dances: the quajira, the zortzico, and jota, respectively. It is a quite stunning little suite as heard hear.

Many of the piano pieces of the Granados, Turina, and de Falla all looked to find ways to give voice to the many rhythms and dances of Spain. Often their piano music attempted to transfer the sound and playing style of the guitar to the keyboard. Of course, that means that it is equally adaptable transcribed back to guitar and that is certainly the case with the Cinco Piezas Populares by Granados arranged here for contrast. They are great examples of the composer's nationalistic music. The same can be said for Turina's music represented in the Poema en Forma de Canciones. Here the composer's Andalusian roots are blended with his 20th-Century musical style for an engaging mini-suite. The album closes with an arrangement of one of de Falla's early piano works that exhibits aspects of Romanticism in the midst of ethnic folk music. It makes the Cuatro Piezas Espanolas an apt conclusion to this engaging program.

Nestor's arrangements make for a quite rich tapestry of music that creates compelling and engaging works. From lyrical melodic ideas to the regional rhythmic undercurrents that inform these pieces, each work gives us a snapshot of Spanish musical influences. The music already laid well for guitar and Nestor's arrangement make a convincing case for them as trios in their own right. The Great Necks Trio provides engaging performances in a well-captured and balanced sound. The release is certainly to be one worth seeking out for fans of early 20th-Century guitar music. The album can be purchased in a hard copy, or as a digital download, as well as streamed on major platforms.


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