SEGOVIA-THE RAMIREZ YEARS
Glynde Place, Sussex
21 September 2013
This recital marked the official launch of the double CD by John Mills comprising works composed for or arranged by Andres Segovia. The project aims to re-awaken awareness of the style and wonderful sound colours that Segovia produced which made him a celebrated concert artist. Honoured guest for the occasion was Amalia Ramirez, head of the Ramirez company, who travelled specially from Madrid for the launch. The venue was the hall of the beautiful Elizabethan manor of Glynde Place in East Sussex.
Before the recital began Dr. James Westbrook gave a short talk entitled “The Road to Ramirez”. A noted scholar and authority on early guitars and especially Antonio Torres, he outlined the development of the instrument that eventually led to the remarkable creations by Torres, whose work guided later luthiers, including the Ramirez family, in their efforts to produce more sonorous and responsive instruments. It was in 1912 that Manuel Ramirez presented Segovia with a guitar which he played throughout the world for the next twenty-five years, making both he and the instrument famous. That guitar is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The talk was supported by a small, but choice, display of rare instruments including Torres and Ramirez.
John Mills’ recital, performed on a Ramirez “Tradicional 1a” guitar designed in the 1960’s and identical to those used by Segovia, featured well-known pieces from the Maestro’s repertoire. It is music that suits Mills’ lyrical and warm style of playing and which displayed his command of varied tone colours to the full. Opening with four pieces by Gaspar Sanz, he immediately captivated the audience by the rhythmic drive and crisp articulation of his delivery. Then came Torroba’s Suite Castellana, followed by a recorded commentary by Segovia that added a nostalgic look back in time for many. Pieces by Haug, Debussy and Roussel led to the final work before the interval, Tansman’s Suite in Modo Polonico.
The second half of the programme was devoted to works from Spain and Mexico, including works by Turina, Rodrigo, Ponce and concluding with Capricho Catalan by Albeniz and Danza Espanola No.10 by Granados. The capacity audience demanded more and were rewarded with three encores which included the ever popular Catalan carol El Noi de la Mara and J.S. Bach’s Prelude from Cello Suite No.1.
The recital was a telling reminder of the huge contribution Segovia made to the advancement in popularity of the guitar, aided of course by the music he persuaded composers to write for him and his own arrangements of works by the great masters. It is music that deserves to return more often to the concert platform, hopefully played with the same understanding and beauty that we enjoyed from John Mills.