The Spanish Dance No. 5 of Enrique Granados is heard most often on the piano, but its throbbing bass notes and lightning-like treble runs identify it as essentially a guitar composition. Saturday night at Westmoreland Congregational Church, it was heard as Granados must have first imagined it -- as guitar music. Music for two guitars, in fact. The melodic lines were played by Angel Romero, one of the instrument's greatest living masters, while his friend, student and assistant Eric Symons supplied the bass line. It was presented, as seldom happens, in context. Granados composed it as part of a suite of 12 dances, and Romero and Symons played the first six of them in excellent style.
Romero's final encore also called piano music to mind. It was a malaguena composed by his father, Celedonio, in a form similar to the piano piece of the same name by Ernesto Lecuona. Once again, the guitar demonstrated, if not a superiority to the piano, certainly an excellent uniqueness.
Angel Romero, like three other sons of Celedonio, is a member of what has been called the "royal family of the guitar," and his royal status was evident in every gesture -- the ease with which he handled his instrument, the way he addressed the audience and even in how he (rather frequently) retuned his guitar. Unlike many younger players, he felt no need to display technique for its own sake. He had it in abundance, and he used it unobtrusively in the service of the music.
As happens often in guitar recitals, a substantial part of the material had been transcribed from other instrumentation. Notable among these was Vivaldi's popular Concerto in D for Lute and Strings.
Romero's arrangement for two guitars lost the contrast available when a solo guitar is pitted against ensemble strings, but it gained in a sense of dialogue and, like everything Romero touched, it was played with technical elegance and lyric grace.
-- Joseph McLellan