In this article we’ll look at five of the most popular concertos for classical guitar.
The Pinnacle of the Ensemble Experience on Classical Guitar
Andrés Segovia once said the guitar is like a small orchestra, containing all kinds of different instruments in only six strings. And as classical guitarists we often spend countless hours of practice trying to bring out each of those different instruments in our playing. The result can offer that magical sound of multiple instruments playing at once on just one instrument.
However, an often overlooked aspect of the classical guitar is the experience of playing music with others. There is a wide world of ensemble music for our instrument in all kinds of different instrument and vocal combinations. And the grandest form of ensemble music on classical guitar is the guitar concerto.
The guitar concerto features a solo guitarist together with an orchestra. These orchestras can range from a small strings section to a much larger symphony orchestra. Guitar concertos often offer us both the most challenging and the most rewarding music to play. In fact, most of the longest fast scales in the entire classical guitar repertoire (along with some of the most technically demanding passages) can be found in guitar concertos. Nevertheless, the slow movements of the Aranjuez or Vivaldi’s Concerto for Lute are classic, memorable pieces of music played by orchestras all over the world for good reason. So, even if you never perform a classical guitar concerto, you should definitely know at least some of them. It is a listening experience full of deep rewards and lasting memories.
Andrés Segovia and the Classical Guitar Concerto
The great Spanish maestro Andrés Segovia championed not just new solo music for the classical guitar but also many wonderful concertos, often written by his many composer friends. If perhaps you have never heard classical guitar played together with an orchestra, I’d like to introduce you to five of them, all listed with full videos below.
Joaquin Rodrigo, Concierto de Aranjuez
Manuel de Falla Orchestra, conducted by Cristóbal Halffter; guitar, Regino Sainz de la Maza (recorded on RCA Victor, 1968)
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Concerto in D, Op. 99
SODRE Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lamberto Baldi; guitar, Andrés Segovia (premiere recording, October 28th, 1939 in Montovideo, Uruguay)
Heitor Villa-Lobos, Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn; guitar, Julian Bream (recorded on RCA, 1971)
Manuel Maria Ponce, Concierto del Sur
Symphony of the Air, conducted by Enrique Jorda; guitar, Andrés Segovia (recorded on MCA 1958)
Vivaldi, Concerto for Lute and Strings in D Major RV93
National Orchestra, conducted by Odón Alonso; guitar, Narciso Yepes