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Manuel M. Ponce
Most guitarists play Ponce’s music…
The first Ponce piece I learned was the Scherzinho Mexicano. Then I heard somebody play his arrangements of Tres Canciones Populares and I also learned those. My friend Ernesto García de León played the Theme Variee et finale and I loved it, a few weeks later I was playing that too. Every time I went to a guitar recital I would hear a new Ponce piece that I wanted to learn.
After listening to a lot of his music I began to wonder why was it that nobody would play a whole Ponce recital. It was common to hear a pianist play an all-Beethoven recital; the same happened with Schubert, Mozart, Brahms, etc.
For a while I didn’t dare go against the flow and the project of filling a whole recital with Ponce’s music had to wait.
In 1993 I finally made up my mind, but the project had gotten more ambitious, by then I had decided to play all of Ponce’s music for guitar.
Generally speaking, a performer can put together one or two new programs in one year’s time and, although I already knew several of his works, it still was a major undertaking.
The year went by, my time was up, the dates were set and I played the five programs, not once, but three times: Mexico City, Querétaro and Toluca. As far as I know, nobody had done that before and no one has done it after.
I wouldn’t say that all of Ponce’s guitar output is great music, but most of it certainly is.
My favorite work? I would have to pick four: the Concierto del Sur for guitar and orchestra, the Theme variee et finale, the Variations on Las Folias de España and fugue and his Sonata Romántica.
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