I heard Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez last night in a performance by the Australian guitarist Craig Ogden and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under their permanent conductor Marin Alsop.
There was a pre-concert interview with the soloist. He has had the advantage of contact with Rodrigo’s daughter who approves of his art. He has discovered the source of inspiration for the plaintive second movement, the heart of the work. It was written with the painful memory of the death of a child in infancy, and the last ascending chords moving into silence stand for the upward movement of the child’s soul. The second of two cadenzas in that movement is full of angst and anger, representing, Ogden suggested, the depth of personal loss. The concerto was written in 1939, the year when the Spanish Civil War was concluded, and I wondered if that was also part of Rodrigo’s pain over the loss of 410,000 men dying during the fighting and a further 200,000 suffering from the ravages of disease.
Craig Ogden told the story of a concert shared with his wife, the opera singer Claire Bradshaw. Their three year old son, Gabriel, was being minded by a friend but the little boy, hearing the music went in search of his parents. Walking slowly down the aisle, carrying his comfort blanket and sucking his thumb, he walked onto the platform, moving nearer and nearer to his father. Ogden went on playing until his son pressed so close to him that he had to stop. Engaging and very articulate, Ogden was as entertaining a raconteur as he proved to be skilled as a musician. It was a fine performance sensitively supported by Alsop and the orchestra. The person sitting next to me, who confided that her father had fought in the Civil War, said at the concerto’s end, ‘ beautiful and so-o Spanish’.
The other main work was Tchaikovsky’s 5th.
Symphony conducted by the elegant Alsop with delicacy when needed, immense passion when required, and without a score. The last movement was a bravura performance and the audience rose to it. This orchestra gets better and better. Another concert recorded by the orchestra yesterday in Poole and including Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, is broadcast on B.B.C.’s Radio Three next Monday evening.
* previous article on Rodrigo 25.07.05