Monday, August 29, 2011

Recuerdos de la Alhambra

My last blog lead me to the guitar of Orpheus. That reminds me of my old classical guitar days. I gave up after getting tired of trying the tremolo. One thing leads to another and I must show you a great piece of classical guitar music: Recuerdos de la Alhambra, composed in 1896 by Spanish composer and guitarist Francisco Tárrega. This work was done in Granada where you find the Alhambra, the most important and also the best conserved Arabian palace in Spain. The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root meaning "red or crimson" suggesting the hues of its towers and walls. Originally designed as a military area, the Alhambra became the residence of royalty and of the court of Granada in the middle of the thirteenth century. It is for this fortress that Tárrega wrote his great recuerdos, meaning memory or I remember (remember Amarcord? It's the same idea.)

This composition is a must for all classical guitar players to master. It's a test of endurance for the tremolo, which is the playing continuously a guitar string using the annular, middle and index fingers to produce an uninterrupted string of crisp notes. I can tell you from personal experience, it ain't easy. The tremolo is designed to create the illusion that the music is a duet of two guitars, but it is a solo performance. This composition is in the A minor key transitioning into the major A in the latter part, so Granada, so melancholy but oh so romantic!

All classical guitarists have recording of this composition. This clip is by Sharon Isbin, a world class classical guitarist. I selected her performance over many others, including that of Andreas Segovia because you may agree with me that her entire soul is in her playing. The clip is from a Korean TV re-recording so the quality is abysmal, but that's all I can find.. for now.
Recuerdos de la Alhambra

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