Concertos for Guitar and Orchestra = PIET SWERTS, PETER CABUS, JOZEF VAN LOOY – Wim Brioen/ Slovak Sinfonietta, Zilina/ Tom van den Eynde & Ivo Venkov – Phaedra

by | Nov 15, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews

Concertos for Guitar and Orchestra = PIET SWERTS, PETER CABUS, JOZEF VAN LOOY – Wim Brioen, guitar/ Slovak Sinfonietta, Zilina/ Tom van den Eynde, Ivo Venkov, conductors – Phaedra 92057, 63:55 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:
This is volume 57 of an estimable series called “In Flanders’ Fields” showcasing all sorts of Flemish music in many different genres. Each concerto here is very fine indeed, accessible while challenging in a good sense, demonstrating to the full the considerable talents of Wim Brioen, prize-winning guitarist of no little accomplishment.
Piet Swerts’s (b. 1960) concerto Fantasia para un Marques is intended as an in memoriam to Joaquin Rodrigo, based heavily on—you guessed it—his Fantasia para un Gentilhombre. It is cleverly done, quite of the same tenor and tone as the Rodrigo, a theme with seven variations and a finale. My only complaint might be that some of the music quotes Rodrigo almost too extensively, making me want to stop play and put on the older work instead! But the piece is satisfying even though I’ll wager you might feel the same while hearing it.
Peter Cabus (1932-2000) taught at the Brussels Royal Conservatory and then the Mechelen Municipal Conservatory, a neoclassic composer whose compositional career spanned over 50 years. This Classical Concerto for Guitar and Strings reminds me a lot of French music from mid last century even though it appeared only in 1999. It is very dance-like and features a middle movement of exquisite nuance and gossamer pitches placed in perfect accord with the underlying luxury of the string accompaniment.
But the best work on this disc is also the last, Jozef van Looy’s concerto, a major work approaching 30 minutes in duration. Van Looy (1927-2001) was a choral conductor and teacher at the Antwerp and Maastricht conservatories, as well as an organist and many other activities. His work is more involved, dramatic, somewhat tragic, linear, and concise in its counterpoint and highly suggestive in its evocations.
Wim Brioen plays very well on each of these marvelous works, and the recorded sound is open and airy. Three excellent concertos that you will like immediately and well worth having.
—Steven Ritter