John Zaradin – Rodrigo – Concierto De Aranjuez For Guitar And Orchestra (1976)

FrontCover1In 1968 his solo London début concert at the Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall, launched him into the London musical world where he was active in studios, in theatre and on the concert platform. He made, at this time, the guitar recordings for the television series The Strauss family with the London Symphony Orchestra.

His theatre life began at the Royal Court Theatre with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, evolved onto the West End stage at the Piccadilly Theatre with Man of La Mancha and continued into touring with, amongst others, the musicals Hair and Fiddler on the Roof and with the companies Ballet Rambert, London Contemporary Dance and Glyndebourne Opera.

In 1972 Belwin Mills became his first publisher and he made his first solo recording: Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo (EMI/CFP) for which he received a gold album award in 1983.

During 1972 and 1973, as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, he made the world tour of Peter Brook’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream (USA venues Kennedy Center Washington DC, Music Center, LA, Geary Theater, San Francisco).


This whole year of touring awakened in him an interest in the music of the Latin Americas and especially Brasil and, at the end of the tour, he continued his travels in the Latin Americas and began to create his own catalogue of compositions.

Re turning to Europe he toured as soloist with the companies Brasil Tropical, Brazukas and Tangos of Brasil, and recorded a second album – Zaradin’s Guitar for EMI (1976). He formed the group Images of Brasil, which played original works and music from Brasil, making television and radio performances and performing in venues as varied as Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

In 1988 Alby James, director of the Temba Theatre Company, invited him to compose and perform original music for his production of Romeo & Juliet, the setting of the play being transposed to Havana from Verona. The score was created for solo classical guitar triggering synthesizers, via MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), allowing orchestral colours and sound effects to be incorporated into the production. The music was performed live without any sequencing or pre-recording and demonstrated how computer technology could greatly expand the possibilities of the acoustic instrument. Caribbean Fantasy for Guitar is the music from this production, compiled and arranged as a suite for solo guitar.

JohnZaradin03In 1990 he composed and performed the music for Jonathon Porritt‘s BBC TV production Where On Earth Are We Going?

October 2002 saw the première of Azraq Suite for Guitar & Orchestra in Newport News, Virginia. John Zaradin composed and performed the work with Ann E. Argodale conducting the York River Symphony Orchestra, and recorded it subsequently at Sony Studios in London with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.

The 6 movement suite of dynamic rhythms, colours and moods of the Latin Americas is ideally suited for both music festival and concert hall.
In August 2015, his second orchestral work, Suite #2, 4 Interludes for Guitar & String Orchestra, was premiered at the Helsinki Summer Music Festival. It is an homage to the late Finnish guitarist Ole Halen and was written for Janne Lehtinen to perform with the Collegium Musicum Lohja, Leader Michael Ertz, Conductor Harri Kerko.

JohnZaradin04A third orchestral work, Suite #3,4 Interludes for Guitar & String Orchestra, premièred in Lohja, Finland 12/2/2018. Suite #4 for Guitar & String Orchestra is commissioned for 2019.

John Zaradin offers insights into his life and philosophy in the publication Personal Journey, John Zaradin in Conversation with Hephzibah Yohannan (Mechisedec Press) and features in Masters of Jazz Guitar (Jazzwise Publications) with an informative chapter on the Guitar in Brazil.

During the greater part of his career he has been playing concerts aboard the world’s most luxurious and sophisticated cruise liners, finding there, a demanding and varied public captivated by his unique guitar sound and style of playing. (taken from his website)


And the Concierto de Aranjuez is a a cornerstone of the classical guitar repertoire:

The Concierto de Aranjuez is a classical guitar concerto by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Written in 1939, it is by far Rodrigo’s best-known work, and its success established his reputation as one of the most significant Spanish composers of the 20th century.

The Concierto de Aranjuez was inspired by the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez, the spring resort palace and gardens built by Philip II in the last half of the 16th century and rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century by Ferdinand VI. The work attempts to transport the listener to another place and time through the evocation of the sounds of nature.

Joaquín Rodrigo01According to the composer, the first movement is “animated by a rhythmic spirit and vigour without either of the two themes… interrupting its relentless pace”; the second movement “represents a dialogue between classical guitar and solo instruments (cor anglais, bassoon, oboe, horn etc.)”; and the last movement “recalls a courtly dance in which the combination of double and triple time maintains a taut tempo right to the closing bar.” He described the concerto itself as capturing “the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains” in the gardens of Aranjuez.

Rodrigo and his wife Victoria stayed silent for many years about the inspiration for the second movement, and thus the popular belief grew that it was inspired by the bombing of Guernica in 1937. In her autobiography, Victoria eventually declared that it was both an evocation of the happy days of their honeymoon and a response to Rodrigo’s devastation at the miscarriage of their first pregnancy. It was composed in 1939 in Paris.

Rodrigo dedicated the Concierto de Aranjuez to Regino Sainz de la Maza.

Rodrigo, nearly blind since age three, was a pianist. He did not play the classical guitar, yet he still managed to capture and project the role of the guitar in Spanish music.[3]
Political context

In 1939, the Spanish Civil War had just ended, beginning (or continuing, depending on the part of Spain) the Spanish State of general Francisco Franco. A work premiered in Spain in this highly charged environment had to celebrate, or pretend to celebrate, or permit the interpretation that it was celebrating, the current political situation. The celebration of a palace and gardens of a sixteenth-century Habsburg king offered no ideological threat to the Francoist State, and was in harmony with its emerging policy of celebrating Spanish history, conservatively interpreted.

Joaquín Rodrigo02Composed in early 1939, in Paris, amid the tensions of the impending war, it was the first work Rodrigo wrote for classical guitar and orchestra. The instrumentation is unusual: rarely does the classical guitar face the forces of a full orchestra. Thus, the classical guitar is never overwhelmed. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a brilliant version (recorded in 1972) … plus some really fine spanish guitar compositions.

Not to be missed !


John Zaradin (guitar)
Philomusica Of London conducted by Guy Barbier

Guy Barbier01

01. Concierto Di Aranjuez (Rodrigo) 23.13
01.1. Allegro Con Spirito 6.08
01.2. Adagio 11.02
01.3. Allegro Gentile 5.24
02. Balletto (Weiss) 2.36
03. Air And Variations (Frescobaldi) 5.18
04. Valse Criollo (Lauro) 2.15
05. Granada (Albeniz) 5.02
06. Spanish Serenade (Malats) 2.25



Original frontcover from 1972:

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

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