Spanish Guitarist Pablo Villegas to Record for Harmonia Mundi: His Debut album, Americano, Scheduled for Release in September
Spanish guitarist Pablo Villegas, who made debuts with seven American orchestras this season, has signed an agreement to record for the Harmonia Mundi label. His solo debut album, Americano, scheduled for international release by the label in September, is a musical journey through different countries, aesthetics, composers, and styles of the Americas. The colorfully diverse 18 tracks include the world premiere recording of Rounds, by Academy Award-winning composer John Williams; music from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story; preludes by Brazilian master Heitor Villa-Lobos; the popular standard Granada by Mexico’s Agustin Lara; and remarkable arrangements of traditional American bluegrass. Villegas’s future projects with the label are under discussion.
Pablo Villegas comments: “I am truly thrilled to be recording for Harmonia Mundi, a label with an extraordinary history of commitment to artists and to the great legacy of classical music. From my first meeting with René Goiffon, I sensed a special sensitivity and energy that I immediately felt connected with. I am very excited about the concept and program we have created for Americano, and can hardly wait for it to be released this fall.”
René Goiffon, President of Harmonia Mundi USA, agrees: “Everything about this project just feels right. Pablo is a tremendously gifted and passionate artist, and he has an innate ability to share this effortlessly with his audience. I quickly came to admire the level of commitment he brings to his art on every level and we’re all tremendously excited to be working with Pablo and his new album.”
In the notes for Americano, Villegas – a native of La Rioja, Spain who considers New York City his second home – describes his inspiration for the album.
“I had the honor of meeting composer John Williams and giving the world premiere of Rounds, his first composition for solo guitar. It was from this that my idea took root of exploring the rich and colorful tradition of the guitar in the American continent: from Brazil and Argentina to Mexico and the United States. The Spanish guitar is one of the only instruments that is wholly linked to one country and its culture – and yet it has become the most popular instrument in the world, and is now found in all musical styles and genres. This CD represents a journey through different countries, aesthetics, composers, and styles, all of which are unified by the Spanish guitar. On it, I combine the emotions of sensual Brazilian music, the nostalgic tango, vivid Venezuelan rhythms, the humanity of John Williams, and the exciting and colorful American bluegrass.”
Highlights of Villegas’s current season included his debut performances with seven American orchestras. Following accounts of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Pittsburgh Symphony, which were greeted with extended standing ovations, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported,
“Mr. Villegas, who played without amplification, maintained clarity and crispness throughout. Most stirring was his passionate account of the second movement. … Mr. Villegas had thoughtful phrasing and gorgeous coloring: mahogany lows, steely highs, teardrop-like harmonics.”
Rodrigo’s most famous concerto was also the vehicle for Villegas’s debut with the Fort Worth Symphony. The Star-Telegram described the work as “an excellent piece in itself, but especially when played as brilliantly as guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas did it in his inaugural appearance in Bass Hall.” As the review reported, to conclude his performance, “Villegas brought down the house with an encore that seemed almost a catalogue of guitar technique.” That encore was Tarrega’s Gran Jota de Concierto, which Villegas also played in WQXR’s “Café Concert” series earlier this year; a video clip is available here.
On June 26, Villegas will join the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at the Guitar Foundation of America Convention to give the world-premiere performance of the Concerto do Rio de Janeiro by Grammy Award-winning Brazilian composer and guitarist Sérgio Assad. Inspired by the city of Rio de Janeiro, and co-commissioned by the Guitar Festival of America and the Cordoba Guitar Festival, Assad’s new work for guitar and orchestra will receive its European premiere soon after, when Villegas performs it with the Cordoba Symphony and conductor Juan Luis Pérez at the Gran Teatro de Córdoba on July 1.
About Pablo Villegas
The soul of the Spanish guitar runs in Pablo Villegas’s blood. A native of La Rioja, Spain, Villegas is praised for performances as charismatic as they are intimate. Lauded internationally from a young age, he has appeared with renowned orchestras and at festivals around the world in more than 30 countries, becoming the youngest of his generation to perform with the New York Philharmonic. Cultural ambassador to the prestigious Vivanco Foundation and Museum, Villegas has performed for the Dalai Lama and the Spanish Royal Family. Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez is the centerpiece of Villegas’s forthcoming recording with the National Orchestra of Spain. Previous releases include Histoire du Tango, recorded with Augustin Hadelich for AVIE, and Ponce’s Concierto del Sur, a platinum title for Sony Classical. In 2007 Villegas founded the Music Without Borders Legacy, which seeks to bridge cultural and social boundaries through classical music, reaching more than 15,000 at-risk children and youth to date.
Pablo Villegas: upcoming spring/summer engagements
Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional
John Corigliano: Troubadours: Variations for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra (Peruvian premiere)
New York, NY
New York City Classical Guitar Society
Baruch Performing Arts Center
Oklahoma City, OK
Guitar Foundation of America Convention
June 26: World premiere of Sérgio Assad’s Concerto do Rio de Janeiro with Oklahoma City Philharmonic
June 27: solo recital
Córdoba Guitar Festival
Cordoba Symphony Orchestra / Juan Luis Pérez
European premiere of Sergio Assad’s Concerto do Rio de Janeiro
Chamber Music Pittsburgh
Kelly Strayhorn Theater
Jackson Hole, WY
Grand Teton Music Festival
Summer Music Residency
Aug 4: “Tango, Song & Dance” with Joyce Yang and Augustin Hadelich
Aug 8: solo recital
Aug 27 & 28
Rheingau Music Festival
“Histoire du Tango” – duo recital with Augustin Hadelich, violin
© 21C Media Group, May 2015