The Guitar in Spain

In Brief

  • Title: The Guitar in Spain
  • Musician: Annette Kruisbrink, classical guitar.
  • Identification: Studio The Gang DVD005.
  • Recording date: 2021.
  • Publishing date: 2021.

Tiento Antiguo by Joaquin Rodrigo


The Corona crisis will mark the years 2020 and 2021 and we do not know yet how long it will last. Presently, performing artists are particularly affected by government measures designed to limit social contact in order to reduce the risk of infection and spreading of the virus.

Many have their own thoughts about these measures, yet the effects for the arts sector are disastrous. This applies in particular to artists who perform in front of an audience.

A performance is an energy exchange that is very hard to experience from a distance. For example, when you are present at a concert, you not only feel contact with the performing artist. You also sense the audience around you, noticing how the emotions propagate and echo in the minds of the audience. That effect sometimes gives me a warm feeling of unity, at other times a sad impression of utter loneliness.

Many artists are looking for other ways to maintain this contact, live streaming, alternative locations, house concerts, you name it. Some of them focus on projects they never got around to. Fortunately, there is a lot of creativity and energy to make the most of it.

The Guitar in Spain by Annette Kruisbrink is an example of such a project, a combination of watching and listening, made entirely in-house, including recording, writing and illustrating the content and editing and mastering of the video on DVD.

The Guitar in Spain briefly guides you through the history of Spanish music for guitar-like stringed instruments from Renaissance to Contemporary and shows the instruments used at that time plus interesting facts about the music styles without distracting from the music itself. This includes a smile from time to time, as in the background story of Malbrough s’en va-t-en guerre where the death of the Jolly good Fellow does not stop the widow from seeking new amorous challenges.

While playing, Annette Kruisbrink is on screen modestly, giving you a good view of the fingerings of the pieces, which is interesting for guitarists.

The composers De Mudarra, Milan and De Narvaez represent the Renaissance. A capo helps to approximate the sound of the old instruments. Guardame las Vacas gets an interesting extension, namely a reproduction of the bass line in which the actual melody is contained. After that I listen to the piece in a very different way.

Sanz and De Murcia bear witness to the Baroque. Canarios by Sanz sounds fresh and La Ferlana by De Murcia is a nice Spanish setting of the French La Forlane.

Fernando Sor cannot be left out in the history of Spanish music as an important composer of the Classical period. Malbrough s’en va-t-en guerre also gets a clear representation of the theme as an appetizer.

Tarrega emerges as an icon of Romanticism. The tempo of his Preludes is often a point of discussion. With a thoughtful performance of Endecha (Farewell) and Oremus (Let us pray), Kruisbrink does justice to the atmosphere of the music. With Soledad from the other romantic Jaime Bosch, we get a nice demonstration of romantic melancholy.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, as in many European countries, national awareness emerged in classical music in Spain. As a listener, the pieces by Alba and Fortea immediately give you the idea: “Yes, that’s really Spanish!” with classical dance forms such as Jota and Granadina with clear flamenco influences.

Joaquin Rodrigo becomes the representative of the modern age. With Tiento Antiguo, Kruisbrink shows that Rodrigo also has a warmer side apart from his characteristic striking dissonances.

The bonus track comes from Annette Kruisbrink herself. Homenaje a Pacio de Lucia. De Lucia bridged the gap between traditional flamenco and classical and jazz music. That can be heard in this piece. A hint of Duende, the soul of flamenco music, always shimmers through the phrases. Remarkably, this is the only piece with a fade-out.

In short, this DVD is an accessible compilation of Spanish music for guitar-like string instruments, all performed on classical guitar. As a consequence of to the short yet clear background information, the DVD will also please listeners who have no knowledge of the repertoire. A simple yet effective menu structure allows you to choose individual style periods.

By the way, don’t expect extensive audio tricks like DTS on this DVD. The recordings are modest and clear, without an excess of audio enhancement.

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