Rated as the #1 Top CD on "PayPlay.fm" in classical-programmatic genre.
In southern Spain, a few miles south of Granada, hidden in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, are the ruins of an old monastery. Several years ago some quarry workers unearthed an old manuscript hidden between the stones at the base of its courtyard fountain.
The ancient writer of the manuscript was evidently a young monk who recounted this never before told story:
“It was my habit to take my guitar to the fountain and sit facing the Sierra Nevada while playing. One afternoon it got late and I was called to duty. Forgetting my guitar, I left it by the fountain. Just before sunset I went to retrieve it.
“To my surprise, as I approached the fountain, along with the sounds of twilight birds singing and the playful splash of the fountain waters, I heard a most exquisite guitar playing.
“Rather than disturb the mysterious guitarist, I decided to listen to his heavenly music from an archway on the far side of the courtyard.
“I said nothing about this to my brethren, but returned the next afternoon to my hidden archway. The mysterious guitarist returned and once again played the guitar.
“Every afternoon before sunset I quietly returned to listen to the guitarist play. Fortunately, since I was blessed with a very nimble ear, and understand music notation, I spent my evenings notating what I could of his playing.
“This went on for many weeks until something almost not to be spoken of occurred. He was playing as he did, beautifully improvising his melodies and strums along with the birds that would gather and sing by the fountain. Then I began to hear, very faintly at first, then more distinctly as he continued to play, delicate melodic echoes as if another guitarist had joined him.
“What I saw next agitated me greatly, for descending along a shaft of golden light from the setting sun, was an angelic being of the purest beauty imaginable. Her white wings beat softly as she hovered above the fountain. She had long dark hair and heart-melting deep brown eyes. Her lovely face was smiling as her delicate hands extended to the guitar. She then began to strum and play, making exquisite echoing melodies along with the guitarist’s own music.
“On one special evening, a small host of other angelic beings descended along the rays of the setting sun and played their heavenly instruments along with the guitarist and the angel.
“Each and every time the angel descended to the fountain, I could feel the deep bond of love and devotion between the angel and the guitarist as they played their inspired music together. Yet after 12 months of visits, on the anniversary of his first visit, the guitarist and the angel disappeared, never to return. Although nothing could ever do full justice and perfectly convey what I heard and witnessed over the past year, I have done my utmost to transcribe as much of the music as I could.”
All of the guitar music of this recording is performed on a Jose Ramirez guitar built in Madrid in 1974.
The opening track “Hands of My Angel” is homage to the French composer Eric Satie.
Catalonian Reverie, Heart’s Peace, Angelic Visit, Misty Soleares, Dream of Granada, and Zambra Trance all draw upon the inspired traditions of Spanish flamenco and classical music.
The "Sakura Variations" is a virtuoso concert piece for solo classical guitar that weaves a dreamlike tapestry in homage to the original Japanese melody, full of mystical evocations of spring, clouds, misty landscapes and serene meditative solitudes.
Based on the Japanese folk tune “Sakura,” it means “Blooming Cherry Blossoms.” Originally composed in the Edo period, its lyrics are translated as:
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Blanketing the countryside,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?….
Come now, come,
Let’s look, at last!
Jeffrey Goodman, Los Angeles, September 2007