The sheet music and the sand: Concerto de Aranjuez

Paco De Lucia’s love of Mexico’s turquoise sea began many years ago. It was by these white sands that Paco played Joaquin Rodrigo’s emblematic Concerto de Aranjuez for the first time. Paco recounts the story:

By Paco De Lucia, October 2010.

When they asked me if I would play Concerto de Aranjuez in Japan, I knew it would be a challenge for me as I had never played it before. As usual, I signed the contract and forgot about it. When it later came to my attention, I only had a month before I had to debut it. I thought I would only be able to learn it if I was completely on my own away from the world.

To study the music I left my house in Playa del Carmen. I took my Japanese dressing gown, a pair of swimming trunks, the sheet music, and several recordings of the piece.

Those were a tough few days but I remember them fondly. Each morning I would get my speargun and would walk about five kilometres along the beach till I reached the small bay of X-Caret, which was untouched back then. This was my favourite fishing spot. I would jump into the sea for a couple of hours till I caught my dinner, which was usually a red snapper. Back at home I would clean and fry it… delicious.

After eating, I would settle down with my notes and cassette until midnight.

With the sheet music I would follow the notes and with the recordings I would track the beat. That was the most difficult part because in many passages the classic versions use rubatos that are not in the sheet music. I listened to some passages thousands of times until they fitted into place, because for me the most important thing was staying truthful to the music.

After a month I returned to Madrid, I had it mastered.
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