The Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia was one of the greatest ambassadors for the popularity and repertoire development the classical guitar has ever had. His public performances, transcriptions, and recordings have inspired generations of players, and he will be forever remembered for this. What he is perhaps less famous for is his aptitude for writing original compositions for the instrument; the known list totals around 60 works with usually only the same handful ever appearing on recordings or in concerts.
More than two years ago, American guitarist Scott Tennant began a project to record the complete known solo works of Segovia, and during the preparation he received (from Angelo Gilardino) two copies of the never-recorded Fandango de la Madrugada (Fandango of the Dawn). The first one was a barely legible manuscript (a microfilm image of the score on decaying and moldy paper), but after several months of attempting to decipher the notes, Tennant managed to produce a workable piece. Shortly after, a manuscript surfaced of the same work, but slightly different and with further sketches and notes which Segovia had made. This publication by Berben is the result of a merging together of the two versions. (The premiere recorded version by Tennant appears on the Fall 2018 GSI album release The Segovia Sessions, which contains 36 short pieces by the Maestro; CG wrote about the album extensively in a cover story in the Winter 2016 issue, linked at the bottom. See album review below.)
The word “fandango” in the title is a bit misleading as, initially, the composition veers more towards the melancholy, slightly dark side of the flamenco form, and is certainly scored at a much slower tempo than the traditional fandango. A very attractive, bright, and lively section at just over the half-way mark provides a lift to the spirits, and this is then followed by a passionate, slow, rubato episode after which there is a brief return to the opening few bars, before the work ends in a relatively lengthy scale passage.
Fandango de la Madrugada is a fine addition to the repertoire. Even though it is apparent in parts of this composition that Segovia drew inspiration from composers he was familiar with (there are hints at Torroba, Turina, and de Falla), he definitely had his own “voice,” too, and anyone familiar with his Estudio Sin Luz and Oracion (both on the album, not surprisingly) should recognize this. The presentation of the score is readable enough but a couple of font sizes larger would have been preferable. Altogether this is a very nice piece for the more advanced player and deserves to be more popular. —Steve Marsh
Scott Tennant GuitarCoopScott Tennant’s much anticipated album of compositions by Andrés Segovia was released in December 2018. Through an arrangement with Guitar Salon International, Tennant played Segovia’s 1969 Ramirez for the 2016 recording sessions, for which he curated 36 appealing and diverse works from the approximately 60 pieces that Italian musicologist Angelo Gilardino estimates Segovia penned. Overall, the works are brief, with 29 under two minutes. All are charming.
Tennant draws heavily on the folios Preludios y Estudios, 23CancionesPopulares de Distintos Paises, and other editions compiled by Gilardino. The music makes one wish Segovia had developed his ideas beyond short bursts of inspiration. The attractive melody and motion of Preludio No. 8 call out for the type of development found in Oración. In the latter, an elegy for Segovia’s compadre, composer Manuel Ponce, he adopts a Ponce-esque harmonic approach and quotes a Ponce prelude.
The CD’s greatest find is Fandango de la Madrugada, an Andalusian homage to the dawn, which runs five-and-a-half minutes. One of the only two extant handwritten copies had languished in a trunk Segovia left in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1947. Most surprising are the work’s flamenco underpinnings—sounds that enticed the young Segovia but from which he later distanced himself.
Throughout the disc, Tennant plays with sensitivity and technical command, giving a nod to Segovia’s expressive practices and timbral colorations.—MarkSmall