The Chanterelle Guitar Anthology. 40 Classical Guitar Miniatures from Sor to Segovia. Michael Macmeeken and Alberto Mesirca. Chanterelle ECH 2724
Anthologies are problematical in two ways. Firstly, there is a tendency to disagree with the music which was included and guitarists would prefer to have seen something else printed instead. Secondly, teachers nearly always have most of the works enclosed therein sitting in other books they already own, so a degree of replication is almost inevitable. Given that this is a Chanterelle anthology, 27 of the works were previously published by them, and the close links which have previously existed between EGTA and this publisher, that’s even more likely.
The initial task is to tell the reader what is included. There are: Sor lessons and minuets ; Aguado leccions ; Legnani caprices ; Coste and Carcassi etudes ; Sagreras estilo criollos ; Ponce preludes ; Barrios, Llobet, Tarrega, Regondi, Mertz and Lhoyer. The internet will offer a comprehensive list, I’m sure.
They are arranged in chronological order, have performance notes by Alberto Mesirca, and a CD which is played by him.
Some of these pieces are better known than others. The Sor, Tarrega, Coste, Carcassi, Ponce and Barrios are well established in the student repertoire, but even so, the quality of some of these emerges in these clearly readable and well-edited versions. Ponce’s Prelude no.7 and Coste’s Étude op.38, no.1, are two of the fine pieces included. The Estilo Criollo pieces of Sagreras were unfamiliar to me and a delight of inventiveness and harmonic resource.
Alberto’s excellent performance notes do much of the teacher’s work for them, informatively advising on the pitfalls and performance potential. There’s even justification for choosing earlier editions on which to base these versions, and background information on performance styles and stylistic authenticity.
The music is beautifully and space-fully printed, with all the necessary fingerings; yet there is room for annotation, should a teacher feel the need to so do. I had a few very minor disagreements with how Alberto has edited them, but that is not surprising given that there are 59 pages of music.
I have heard included-CDs which are token, and poor in their realisation of the written material. This is not the case with Alberto’s playing. He is a convincing advocate of this music and his renditions are as colourful as they are thoughtful. There’s an occasional over-ringing bass-note, some out of tune strings (especially the 1st) and I thought the recording quality was a little bass-heavy – but the playing is very good and will be a great example to both the teacher and their student of what is possible.
At the rear of the book, the sources for these editions are cited. Along with the notes on editorial policy, there is Michael Macmeeken’s introduction and composer biographies, giving this book a real sense of the scholarly.
I expected to be opening this book with a here we go again sigh, but I found the content appealing, the approach meticulous and the playing convincing.
This anthology is highly recommended – not least for Alberto’s playing. The retail price of £19.50 is justified because a student will have a beautiful snapshot of some of the leading writers down the ages and enough material to keep him occupied for several years.