One of my favorite composers is Joaquin Rodrigo. His composition Concierto de Aranjuez ranks as my all-time favorite piece of music, all three movements of it. My husband loves Spanish guitar music as much as I do. I bought him a Rodrigo CD for his birthday this past summer, which I have since stolen and put in my car to serenade me on my drive to the office.
We were lucky enough to see Uruguayan guitarist Marco Sartor with a local symphony orchestra two winters ago. He played Concierto de Aranjuez, the first movement of which is one of the most enchanting things I have ever heard. It’s jaunty, flighty, and downright cheerful. Allegro con spirito and I became fast friends that night. We’re still inseparable.
When I came down from my spirito high, I began to appreciate Rodrigo’s other compositions. The first movement of Fantasia para un gentilhombre reminds me, for some inexplicable reason, of summer afternoons at our neighbors’ pool. This piece, in four movements, happens to follow Concierto de Aranjuez on the Rodrigo CD. Tracks eight, nine, and ten are three movements from another Rodrigo composition, Concierto para una fiesta. The first time I heard the first movement, Allegro deciso, it was swallowed up in the noise of highway traffic during my morning commute, and it fell flat on my spoiled ears. For weeks after, I skipped over everything beyond track seven.
A few weeks ago, I let track eight play uninterrupted — this time without the highway noise. Suddenly, it was as if my ears were relearning to hear; the depth of sound I heard took my breath away. Where had all those instruments been those times before? Where had all those notes been, those glorious notes? I found myself literally swooning. The first movement of Concierto para una fiesta is choppy and cacophonous in places, normally two things I want to keep far from my sensitive ears. But something about this piece resonates with me. In many ways, it reminds me of the beauty that results when so much of the chaos of life is full and present. It’s not always smooth, it’s not always fluid, and it’s definitely not always harmonious. But there is a familiar theme that runs throughout and revisits at just the right times. And the notes… oh, the notes. Somehow, some way, they work together in a discordant harmony that my limited mind can’t process.
Rodrigo was blind from childhood, but he saw life in a way I wonder if I ever can, or ever will. Still, listening to his music is beginning to give me ears to see, and for that, I am grateful.