José Antonio Escobar: Luis Milan: El Maestro

review milan x1 cong

Ah, just to be known as “El Maestrao” eh? Not that’s he’s around to appreciate it: Luis died in 1561 and was a Spanish Renaissance composer. He was a vihuelist, which is what people were before they became guitarists: the vihuela is a guitar-shaped string instrument from 15th and 16th century Spain, Portugal and Italy. It evolved from the lute and itself gave way to the baroque guitar. El Maestro was the first composer to publish music for the vihuela and was one of the first musicians to specify verbal tempo indications in his music.
Musically, it’s just Escobar and his guitar playing one of 28 tracks on here (so short), mostly fantasias but also pavanes (slow dances). It’s a gentle sound but has the rather pleasing out-of-time quality that early music often does. Escobar is capable of some complex playing, while maintaining an even sound.
Mid-way through there’s a section that suggests Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith was a fan, as it’s very close to his own famous piece, Duelling Banjos. A pleasant album for lovers of the classical guitar, particularly with a Spanish feel. Out now on Naxos, 8573305.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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