Back in the heyday of our Segovia Sunday postings, I recall one that was part a special performance the Maestro played at the White House in 1979 when Jimmy Carter was president of the U.S. Here is another piece from that concert. Segovia was 86 at the time; he lived to be 94, the same age Jimmy Carter is now! When I ran across this video the other day, though, I was struck by the fact that though Segovia was well beyond his best years, even at this late date he was capable of incredibly nuanced playing. There’s a point in the video where it’s a close-up on his right hand, and it looks like Segovia’s slightly chubby fingers are barely moving, but what he’s playing at that moment sounds completely precise, as if the coding in his brain from so many decades of playing lets him accomplish the deft fingering almost automatically. Genius!
The lovely piece is by the 16th century Spanish composer and vihuelist Luis de Narváez called Variations on ‘Guárdame las vacas,’ which is sounds romantic, doesn’t it? It roughly translates as “please watch over my cows”! Maybe that was romantic in 16th century Andalucia. More likely it’s a religious plea, like in the English hymn “Good Shepherd.” Anyway, Segovia recorded it for his 1957 album Segovia and the Guitar. —Blair Jackson