Review of Radames Gnattali 4 Concertinos for Guitar and Orchestra by Marco Salcito and Orchestra Sinfonica Abruzzese, Brilliant Classic, 2017
First recording of the complete Concertinos for guitar and orchestra by Radamés Gnattali. Radamés Gnattali (1906-1988), son of Italian immigrants, is one of the most popular and famous composers of his native Brazil, where he is mentioned in the same breath as Villa-Lobos. Gnattali and his music are a perfect example of the fusion of the high and the low, of formally structured classical music and the vibrant multi-coloured folk culture of Brazil.
The 4 Concertinos for guitar and orchestra are medium-sized, 3-movement works, highly entertaining and brimming with good tunes, groovy rhythms and brilliant instrumentation: listening to them is pure pleasure. They can find a right place closer to the Concierto Classico by Rafael Adame, The Concierto de Aranijuez by Joaquin Rodrigo, Concerto in D major Op. 99 by the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and the Conciderto del Sur by Manuel Maria Ponce. Radamés Gnattali (1906-1988) sought a broader appeal during the 1950s with works such as these four guitar concertinos, dating between 1951 and 1967, which use neo-Romantic and neo-classical moulds while maintaining the light style often associated with symphonic jazz. The tricky balance between guitar and orchestra is skilfully handled by means of dialogue and contrast, investing the structure of each work with a degree of intimacy more usually associated with chamber music.
The Second Concertino was written for Aníbal August Sardinha, known as Garoto, one of the creators of the bossa nova sound. Even though the concerto clearly reflects the guitarist’s manner of playing, the first movement also reveals the influence of American composers such as Bernstein and Gershwin, the third that of the new trends in symphonic and progressive rock music, with its pressing patterns, while the second embodies something of the melancholy typical of the bossa redolent of saudade. The Third is scored for an unusual ensemble of guitar, flute, timpani and strings, in which the flute also has a soloistic part; the Fourth returns to a string-only ensemble for accompaniment. These premiere recordings are the work of Marco Salcito, who returned to Gnattali’s original manuscripts to edit the scores afresh; all guitar-music enthusiasts will be keen to hear his work. Salcito and the Orchestra Sinfonica Abruzzese conducted by Marcello Bufalini played these musics with infectious enthusiasm and…a nice “swing”. Recommended