The tango, which Piazzolla liberated from dance, is both extended and tamed by the classical guitar. That’s partly what the Swiss guitarist Christoph Denoth is getting at when he writes that ‘these present recordings aim to express today’s broader deﬁnition of tango and exploit the acoustic range of the guitar in order to integrate the tango and its untamed beauty into classical music’.
In all these miniatures – some arrangements, some written for the instrument — there are folklorist echoes ampliﬁed by compelling rhythmic variations, extended harmonies and songlike melodies. Somewhere among this seductive sound world, Denoth ﬁnds room for his own style by ﬁnding pleasure in the play of opposites – especially the tension between European classicism and the folk traditions of South America.
Denoth’s recital opens with some of Piazzolla’s most widely arranged works, many of which have theatrical origins. The composer’s own favourite, Adios nonino, so full of subtle changes of mood, sits at the centre of a set which alternates between the urgency of pieces like Libertango and Verano porteño and those of a more reﬂective nature, such as Oblivion and the exquisite Milonga del ángel.
These contrasts are maintained throughout the rest of the programme, with works by other tango legends such as Gardel and those exploring different national styles, like Antonio Lauro with his Venezuelan take on the waltz, and Gismonti’s saudade-saturated Agua y vinbo and Dyens’s cheeky ‘fake tango’ Tango en Skaï.
There is little here that hasn’t been recorded before by the likes of John Williams et al. What makes Denoth’s offering a must-have is a musical sensitivity exempliﬁed as much by his curation as by his playing.
GRAMOPHONE Sept 2018
Sometimes a work’s ubiquity blinds us to its brilliance. Familiarity breeds – albeit amiable, cosy – contempt. Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez could be considered such a work. But fresh juxtapositions yield fresh perspectives. And so it proves here with...this „highly enjoyable new recording that provide attractive new settings for Rodrigo’s jewel.
Spanish composer Lorenzo Palomo’s suite for guitar and orchestra Nocturnos de Andalucía might use an orchestra more than twice the size of Rodrigo’s, but Palomo’s writing exhibits the same kind of elegant restraint. This magnificent tone-poem, with its lush, flamenco-hued evocations of shifting passions beneath the stars, thus balances rather than overwhelms Rodrigo’s chamber-like atmosphere – a genuine conversation, especially in the hands of the superb Swiss-born guitarist Christoph Denoth and the LSO under Jesús López Cobos.
Denoth’s own arrangement of Joaquín Malats’s tuneful, ever-popular Serenata española (actually originally an orchestral piece before being arranged for piano and then solo guitar) is closer to the Concierto de Aranjuez in its economy of means and elegant colouristic flourishes, and makes for a satisfying encore or pendant to the previous two works. Throughout, Denoth again shows himself to be a thoughtful musician of considerable taste and technical prowess, and his recording of the Palomo suffers not one jot by comparison with that of the work’s dedicatee, Pepé Romero.
An interesting programme which adds to the often recorded „Concierto de Aranjuez“ the extensive suite for guitar and orchestra in six movements
by Lorenzo Palomo (Pozoblanco, Córdoba, 1938) „Nocturnos de Andalucía“, commissioned by Pepe Romero who world-premiered this piece under the
baton of Frühbeck de Burgos in the year 1996. The CD closes with a good version for guitar and orchestra, realized by Denoth himself, of the
beautiful „Serenata Española“ by the catalan Joaquín Malats (1872-1912), a piano work (originally with orchestra!) whichs popularity strangely
declined in the last times. Palomo’s composition, with folkloric roots skillfully dressed with a modern language and a splendid orchestration,
is an important contribution to the limited repertoire of guitar and orchestra. It’s a programme to follow with highest pleasure, if we add
that the sound recording is excellent and that the interpretations of the guitarist of Basel, who possesses a marvellous sound and a remarkable
musicianship, show perfectly its expertise and lean on the full professionality of the baton.
Ángel Carrascosa Almazán
Celebrating Shakespeare at the Opera Foyer (Staatstheater Kasssel Germany)
Kassel“If music be the food of love, play on …”, thus William Shakespeare in his comedy Twelfth Night or What You Will. It was plenty of food for love on Sunday at the crowded opera foyer: Director of the Staatstheater Thomas Bockelmann and renowned guitarist Christoph Denoth arranged a musical recital on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
It focused on the sonnets by the bard from Stratford, which capture the entire dynamics of love affairs in immortal verses. Bockelmann read selected sonnets and added some exciting information – with unpretentious ease, though quite breezy, which rendered the performance somewhat terse.
Love and the transient nature of life are serious topics, but Shakespeare time and again surprises us with his witticisms. “You may smile and laugh”, Bockelmann said. And yes, people did laugh, for instance listening to the obscene Sonnet No. 135 with its ambiguous key word “will” – which can also be a slang expression for female or male genitals.
In musical interludes, Basel born Christoph Denoth, who teaches at the Royal Academy of Music in London, was perfectly brilliant. Full of life, with a finely honed dynamic and sophisticated rhythms, the guitarist played works originally written for the lute by Shakespeare’s contemporary John Dowland, who also worked at the court of art-loving Landgrave Maurice the Learned in Kassel. He finished with attractive variations by Spanish composer Fernando Sor to the great acclaim of 180 listeners.
24 April 2016
"Throughout Denoth impresses both with his technique, but also with the engaging way he plays the music. He clearly feels strongly about Palomo's work, and brings out the interesting darkness and complexity of Palomo's vision of Anadalusia. Whilst the Rodrigo is a lovely, highly recommendable performance, it is the Palomo which makes this disc special. I do hope that the performance makes more guitarists take up this fascinating work."
Full review available here.
24 March 2016
The ever versatile LSO also features on this exceptional album, where the London-based guitarist Christoph Denoth winningly mixes the familiar and the unfamiliar. His account of Rodrigo’s evergreen Concierto de Aranjuez, with the orchestra winningly conducted by the veteran Spanish conductor Jesús López Cobos, is excellent, and can be highly placed in a competitive field. But the real reason for buying this well filled 68-minute album is the fill-ups. Lorenzo Palomo’s Nocturnos de Andalucía is a substantial 40-minute, six movement piece for guitar and orchestra, which revisits the same Spanish themes and moods that so inspired the great late-19th century Spanish guitar virtuoso/composers.
It’s attractive, without ever being too comfortable, and backward looking. It’s very cleverly scored for large orchestra, and will give much pleasure. There’s also a delightful lollipop at the end, with Denoth’s own arrangement for guitar and orchestra of Joaquín Malats’ Serenata Espanola – 4½ minutes of pure joy.
By David Mellor, 20 February 2016
"all the works on the disc had great emotional appeal (…) and Denoth's performance certainly makes you want to dance"
27 March 2015
«…His playing is beautiful.»
"The melancholy, private lute music by John Dowland gets an infusion of fresh color in this recording by Christoph Denoth. Transposed to the modern guitar, the light-and-shadow contrasts of Dowland’s compositions become starker; the flights of counterpoint more brilliant. But it’s in the quietly meditative galliards that Mr. Denoth’s guitar sounds most lutelike."
“Christoph Denoth is superbly placed to exploit the cantabile and colouristic properties of his instrument” (…) “beauty and power”
"Well played… Makes a strong case for the music of Downland and show why we should stop overlooking him as a Great British composer."
“As soloist, outstanding Basel concert guitarist Christoph Denoth showed true empathy for the Spanish tone colour, instrumental subtleties and technical finesse” (…) “impressively harmonious rendering by Denoth”
"Christoph Denoth: Virtuosity and great musical expression"
"L’église Saint Grégoire a connu un beau moment de musique classique. Il faut dire que l’invité était prestigieux: le Suisse Christoph Denoth avait accepté de jouer un soir à Tourrettes, lui qui a connu sous les ovations, l’immense salle du Carnegie Hall de New York. [...] Quelques moments précieux ont émaillé cette soirée vraiment exceptionnelle. Ainsi le public, sous le charme, a pu découvrir un morceau écrit par Christoph Denoth lui-même et qu’il a intitulé ‹Hommage à Federico Garcia Lorca›. Musique raffinée faisant appel à beaucoup de rapidité et de qualités d’interprétation."
"With incomparable dexterity (Denoth) opens up a world of musical perspectives and the entire history of the guitar on his six strings…..Denoth crowns the kings of music with a potent mix of stage presence,technical virtuosity, fidelity to the music, and original expression."
"music was bright and crisp under Denoth’s dextrous fingers" (...) “extremely enjoyable hour’s music"
"All was played by Denoth with finely honed professionalism."
“His musical and stage presence deeply impressed me. [...] Christoph Denoth combines faithfulness to the original score with a highly expressive
and personal interpretation. He has the ability to fathom the depth of the composer’s inspiration and reveal all the mysteries and beauty of
"vibrant voice complemented by Denoth's strong (and) (...) moving accompaniment." (...) I very much hope to see them again."