Daniel Casares: "Concierto de Aranjuez is written for a flamenco guitarist"

Daniel Casares has recorded 'Concierto de Aranjuez' and his first symphonic work La Luna de Alejandra.
Daniel Casares has recorded 'Concierto de Aranjuez' and his first symphonic work La Luna de Alejandra. / Salvador Salas
  • The Malaga-born guitarist who grew up in Estepona has recorded Rodrigo's composition with the OFM and the disc will be performed live in Feburary

He says the first movement could easily be a 'bulería' and the second is written in tonalities which are often used in flamenco. The more he studies the work, the more Daniel Casares becomes convinced that Rodrigo wrote his famous Concierto de Aranjuez "for a flamenco guitarist or from a very Spanish point of view". He has just released a record with the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra (OFM), playing this piece and also his own first symphonic work, La Luna de Alejandra. The launch coincided with the 80th anniversary of the creation of the Concierto, and 20 years after the Rodrigo's death.

Without changing a note, Casares has incorporated certain dynamics to make this work his own, even though it has been interpreted a thousand times in the classical music world. "This disc is special because a flamenco artist has dared to do it," he says. This is because it is daunting for any musician. "It is a work which demands a great deal from you," he says, and even more so in his case, where the "rigour" of a classical language which demands perfect execution meets the "flexibility" of the world of flamenco, which is more given to improvisation.

A new language

This is a new language for Casares; he has spent hours studying it, which gave him backache but taught him a great deal. "You realise what the formulas are to combine the instrument with the orchestra, and what you have to do so that everything makes sense," he explains.

After having "matured" his Concierto de Aranjuez for a year and a half through dozens of performances, and retouching some passages of La Luna de Alejandra, Daniel Casares has recorded it with the OFM as proof of a job well done. "Every guitarist should play this once in their life," he says, and by doing so he has put himself on the map of classical music. "I have had letters from people who have never written to me before. As if I were playing better now, although I'm actually playing the same. It is an important work and it affects you in some way," he admits.

On 9 February he will be performing it live at the Edgar Neville Auditorium in the provincial government headquarters, with the OFM. Despite everything, in Spain "it is still very hard to fill a theatre for a guitar performance", he says. A month ago he toured Latin America, where he is not as well known, and most venues were completely full. Last year he performed in the EU, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cape Verde... "and flamenco guitar worked in all of them".

In 2016 he was asked to play for US president Barack Obama's visit to Seville, which was cancelled due to a shooting and the deaths of five police officers in Dallas. He suddenly started to receive calls from American media and Spanish programmes which had never featured guitars before. Casares describes the guitar as "spinal cord" of flamenco, but points out that it receives the least support. "There should be more, like gastronomy or cinema," he says.