No recording of guitar music that has been influenced by the Impressionist composers could be considered complete without a work by Miguel Llobet, and the piece of his most associated with Impressionism is El Mestre.
Llobet spent several years as a young musician living in Paris, where he associated with Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Manuel de Falla, to name just a few. He is known to have had a number of discussions with Debussy about the possibility of his composing a work for guitar, an idea to which Debussy seemed receptive. Sadly, this never came to fruition. He also spent years asking de Falla for a guitar composition, which eventually resulted in de Falla’s little masterpiece, Le Tombeau de Debussy. These associations had a profound impact on Llobet, and his compositional style evolved from the Chopin influence of his earliest works to a more Impressionistic aesthetic.
I have already recorded El Mestre – it was the “title piece” of my Centaur Records release, “Lo Mestre, the music of Miguel Llobet.” (A word about the title discrepancy in a bit.) So the jury is out as to whether or not to re-record it and include it in the new album. Certainly many musicians have recorded the same pieces multiple times, but on consecutive albums? On the other hand, there will be a couple of years in between my last album and my next. Also, I believe I have something different to say about the piece interpretively. And, of course, as I said in the first sentence of this post, no recording of Impressionism for guitar would be complete without it. In any event, since I am at least considering including El Mestre, I am including it in my youtube channel playlist, “Impressions”.
Now, about the title discrepancy: The work is published under the title “El Mestre“, but in 1975, when I studied it under Rey de la Torre, Maestro Rey put an X through the “El” in the title and wrote “Lo” above it. Since he was Llobet’s most significant pupil, it is pretty hard to ignore the probability that, as Rey told me, Llobet originally called it “Lo Mestre“. For this reason, I decided to use what I believe is Llobet’s original title as the album title, but continue to use the published title when referring to the piece.
So, here is my recording of El Mestre as I recorded it back in 2011 (2 years before the recording that found its way into the album).