Certainly there is no shortage of versions of the immortal Joaquín Rodrigo classic Concierto de Aranjuez, easily the most popular guitar concerto ever written. Guitarists love playing it. Orchestras and chamber groups all over the world have embraced it. I’ve lost count of how many recorded performances I’ve heard of it through the years, not to mention the numerous stand-alone versions of the justifiably famous and adored second movement Adagio played on any number of different instruments.
This week’s Video Pick, however, features a combination on the Aranjuez I had never heard before—guitar (Jack Cimo) and piano (Christopher Goodpasture); both are highly regarded American players. Here, they perform the first two movements, Allegro con spirito (above), and the Adagio (below). They are wonderful arrangements that miraculously capture so much of the varied orchestral flavors of Rodrigo’s work with just the two instruments; not an easy feat.
I asked Jack Cimo to tell me about how the arrangement came about: “It’s mostly my arrangement from the orchestral score. I used an open source version I found and added essential notes and subtracted unnecessary ones. Nothing brilliant in the arrangement, just Chris, who is a brilliant pianist! The guitar has a few amended ideas, to give it more of a flamenco sound, which we know Rodrigo loved. I believe after hearing Paco de Lucía’s version, he said it was the closest to how he meant it to sound, or something to that effect. My conception of the piece is somewhere between Paco’s and Pepe Romero’s. I also worked with Adam Del Monte to integrate some more authentic flamenco sounds. We unfortunately didn’t have time to record the third movement, but hope to do it sometime in the near future.”
Well, two out of three ain’t bad. In fact in this case, it’s very, very good! I hope you agree. —Blair Jackson