Platero y yo is a captivating book of prose, the crowning achievement of Nobel Prize-winning writer Juan Ramón Jiménez. Subtitled “Andalusian elegy,” it is a reflection of the experiences of Jiménez and Platero (from “plata y oro”), a little donkey to whom the poet confided his thoughts, feelings, and observations about daily life in his village of Moguer, Spain, at the turn of the twentieth century.
Twenty-eight of the verses from Platero y yo were set to music for classical guitar in 1960 by the Italian-born American composer, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Soon afterward, Andrés Segovia recorded ten of them without narration, since much of the musical score sounds complete by itself. Both the music and the text, independent of one another, are profoundly expressive and moving; but together they become a true masterpiece. This recording features 17 selections from Platero y yo performed by narrator Nelson Brenes and guitarist Frank Koonce.
Frank Koonce is an acclaimed American guitarist, known internationally as a performer, teacher, and writer. He holds degrees from the North Carolina School of the Arts and from Southern Methodist University, Summa Cum Laude, and did postgraduate study as a Fulbright Scholar and performer in Italy. Mr. Koonce’s creative output includes an authoritative guitar edition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s complete solo lute works (Kjos Music Publishers), a collection of historical anthologies entitled “The Frank Koonce Series” (Mel Bay Publications), and individual works by modern composers (Les Producions d’OZ). He has recorded an album entitled "A Southwest Christmas" with the Phoenix Bach Choir (Soundset, SR 1005) and is featured in a live concert video with the renowned Russian composer/guitarist, Nikita Koshkin (Mel Bay 99231VX). As a founding partner of Soundset Recordings he has helped produce other classical compact discs, including the first two recordings of Koshkin and a premiere recording of Symphony No. 3 by Alan Hovhaness that was part of the soundtrack for Paramount’s award-winning film “There Will Be Blood.” A Professor of Music, Mr. Koonce has taught at Arizona State University since 1978 where he was Director of an international guitar festival jointly sponsored by the Guitar Foundation of America and the American String Teachers Association in 1987. He is an active performer with recitals to his credit in Europe, Asia, Costa Rica, and throughout the United States.
Nelson Brenes, with an extensive and prestigious professional carrier in radio, worked as a producer, journalist, and newscaster at the BBC of London (1964-1978). As a member of the BBC Opera Club, he was the principal, as a baritone, in André Messager’s comic opera Véronique. In 1985 he travelled to Washington DC to work at the Voice of America. A few years later, he was appointed as General Director of the Costa Rican National Radio and Television System by the President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Dr. Oscar Arias. Mr. Brenes has taken part in musical productions such as Gobierno de Alcoba by Costa Rican composer Carlos Castro, and the Three Penny Opera by Kurt Weill. He has narrated poems and short stories in the National Theatre, the National Auditorium, and the Melico Salazar Theatre. Furthermore, he has narrated Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, conducted respectively by the Americans Gerald Brown and Irwin Hoffman, and the Chilean Agustin Cullel. With American guitarist Frank Koonce, he performed Platero y yo in the National Theatre and other private halls in Costa Rica, as well as in the VIII International Guitar Festival in Velez, Malaga, Spain, in 1999, a performance praised by the internationally acclaimed Venezuelan guitarist Alirio Diaz. He has produced CDs of poetry by Garcia Lorca, with music by Roberto Viquez, and by Costa Rican Poet Jorge Debravo, with music by Carlos and Jose Castro. Currently, he is working on a national audio book-recording project of novels and short stories, sponsored by the Education and Culture Ministries of Costa Rica.