Every few years I find myself playing one or more of Llobet's Catalan arrangements - they really are special pieces for players and audiences. And every now and then I want to learn more about Llobet. Well, I now have "Respuesta - Stefano Grondona Plays the Guitar Works of Miguel Llobet": - two CDs on the stradivarius label (STR 33770).
The second CD is devoted to the Catalan arrangements, which Grondona plays on his own Torres SE111 of 1887 (not in Romanillos's book, at least the edition I have), strung with gut and silk strings from Aquila.
The first CD contains seven original compositions and five preludes, all by Llobet, three "Estilos Argentinos" and four "Historical Arrangements" Llobet made of music by Villar, Bufaletti, and Valverde. No mention is made of what strings were used for this CD, but they are not gut and silk.
Grondona plays with an unusual nail technique, which I saw when studying with him briefly some 30 years ago: mostly flesh, with a small hook of nail in the centre of the tip. So, sometimes the sound is warm and lush, at other times thin and trebly. Make no mistake, there is some incredible virtuosity on this album, especially in Llobet's original compositions - check out the title track, Respuesta, for some scary finger work. It's on youtube: https://youtu.be/gLum80u0M3I
Overall, I was left feeling tremendous love (yes, that's the word) for Llobet. He was an incredible musician, heir to the mantle of Sor, Aguado, Manjon, and his teacher, Tárrega - yet overshadowed by Andres Segovia. Latterly he suffered from depression, living long enough to see his beloved Cataluña descend into civil war. Let's be in no doubt, Llobet was a GREAT guitarist, a GREAT arranger, and a VERY GOOD composer. His solo compositions are very advanced, wonderful works.
As for the interpreter, I found myself liking some moments, not liking others, which is fairly normal. But really, the double album is all about Miquel Llobet. One of THE greats.