Marta Almajano / José Miguel Moreno LAS MUJERES Y CUERDAS

The album title is that of the final song, Sor’s Las mujeres y cuerdas, with its caveat that both women and strings need ‘tuning’ – but carefully. The cover is adorned with Madrazo’s painting (1853) of the Countess of Vilches (seated in the luxurious surroundings appropriate to her rank), whose demeanour suggests that she may be dreaming of romantic love, or perhaps listening to musical expressions of it. The gentle guitar was at that time popular as an accompanying instrument in the home or salon, incapable of supporting anything vulgar or excessive; the publishing of guitar-accompanied songs was a flourishing trade. The song by Martin y Soler, a composer of opera buffa, was published with the 
option of guitar or keyboard; all the others were composed or arranged by guitarists. Giuliani, the darling of the Viennese salons, exercised his (Italian) gift of melody in responding generously to the market, whilst Sor worked as a singing teacher during his sojourn in London, from which time the songs in this recording (and many others) date.
These graceful and sometimes coquettish songs of the joys, frustrations and pains of love are punctuated by suitably day-dreaming guitar solos. Marta Almajano sings them beguilingly though not without sacrificing consonants to beauty of tone, but the texts are printed in the substantial booklet, as are a number of charming reproductions of paintings. Moreno’s contribution is excellent in all respects. This well-recorded and lavishly produced album should appeal to all who care to share the dreams of the Countess of Vilches, in whatever surroundings they may find themselves.' (John Duarte / Gramophone)

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