I first encountered the young Slovenian guitarist Karmen Štendler last fall through some YouTube videos by the quite wonderful Weimar Guitar Quartet (Štendler, Stephanie Jones, Hanna Link, and Jakob Schmidt; we’ll be sure to feature them in a future Video Pick). However, I was not aware until quite recently that Štendler put out a solo album at the beginning of 2016, called First (which includes works by Regondi, Aguado, Rodrigo—this one—and Frank Martin, among others), and has made some fine solo videos. She has won prizes at competitions in Spain, Italy, and Slovenia, though she is not widely known outside of her homeland—yet.
Here she takes on Joaquín Rodrigo’s dynamic En los trigales, which the Spanish master composed for solo guitar in the summer of 1938. The title means “In the wheatfields,” and according to Rodrigo biographer (and longtime Classical Guitar magazine writer) Graham Wade, writing in Joaquín Rodrigo: A Life in Music (GRM Publications, 2006): “This work could be interpreted not only as a vivid evocation of summer landscape, but also as a song of homecoming in which the Spanish national instrument became, quite suddenly, one of Rodrigo’s most intimately expressive voices.” It was dedicated to guitarist Narciso Yepes, and premiered by Regino Saínz de la Maza, who also debuted (and is the dedicatee of) Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez, begun in 1938 and premiered the following year. —Blair Jackson