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Alvaro Mendizabal: The Sleep of Reason - A classical guitar story

Alvaro Mendizabal: The Sleep of Reason - A classical guitar story

Ars Produktion  ARS 38 299

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental


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Alvaro Mendizabal, guitar

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - December 19, 2020

This is a plea to embrace the classical guitar as an instrument among equals in the world of classical music. In his introductory remarks, Peruvian-born Alvaro Mendizabal regrets that “guitarists rarely participate in the classical mainstream” and are “largely ignored by orchestras and top concert venues’. Is he right?

Although compositions for classical guitar (and their forebears) are legion, one can understand that fervent classical guitar players deplore that their instrument doesn’t have a natural place in the “classical music industry”. There are several reasons for it, so it would seem. Consulting one of the ‘horse’s mouth’ sites like www.guitarunit.com some obvious ones are listed: Lack of smoothness of sound (attack), lack of loudness, and lack of sophistication, making “guitars unsuitable for orchestras”.

In his dual capacity of a classical guitar player and Senior Strategy Consultant with Accenture USA, views like this must have triggered an intellectual rebellion in an ambitious personality as Mendizabal no doubt is, judging the story of the classical guitar a story of a marginalized underdog in the elite world of music; an instrument that ought to be accepted in music schools and classical concert venues like any other. Answering the question “What do these classical guitarists really do?” Mendizabal takes the listener in this debut release on a journey of nearly 400 years of guitar ‘dreams’ to “explain the current realities of the guitar profession”.

Under the somewhat mysterious title “The Sleep of Reason” 13 pieces of varying background and arrangement plus a bonus track, “the listener embarks on a journey to discover and understand the term ‘classical guitar’”. Each with an added phrase in Spanish to create a programmatic effect, leaving it to the audience to google its meaning. For more and detailed information, I refer to the liner notes.

I do not entirely share Mr. Mendizabal’s pessimism. We ought to take the classical guitar for what it is: An instrument with unique characteristics making it suitable for orchestral solo (Rodrigo, Concierto de Aranjuez, and more recently the two guitar concerti by Hovhaness) as well as an instrument of choice for Flamengo and Latin-American music. Furthermore, it would seem to me that conservatory education is more widely spread than Mendizabal suggests, though perhaps less so in the USA than in Europe. The same applies to concert venues. Even the prestigious Amsterdam Concertgebouw hosts a guitar series.

However, setting aside all my considerations, what we do get here, is an excellent overview of what the classical guitar is able to do. And what’s more, played by a brilliant and visionary artist; proving his case after all? Do read his comments.

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.

Copyright © 2020 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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