Sorry, it’s taken me a while to get to this!
The usual caveats apply: I always say “favorites” rather than “best” because it’s all so subjective. We all have our own prejudices (good and bad) and inclinations, and things that move us and things that don’t. These are albums that really grabbed me, and of course there are many others that could have made the list. A few of these came out in 2017, but I didn’t get around to listening to them or reviewing them until 2018. They are presented here in alphabetical order by artist, and include links to the online reviews I wrote of them (in all but one case). Those reviews also include video or audio links, plus purchasing and streaming info. —Blair Jackson
Albéniz, Jorge Caballero (GuitarCoop)—Imaginative arrangements and beautiful, virtuosic playing of both familiar and less-known Albéniz works, including a few normally played on two guitars.
Colori della Toscana, Duo Piera Dadoma & Vincenzo Torricella (Christophorus)—Italian duo’s evocative “Colors of Tuscany” traverses centuries with pieces by Boccherini, Puccini, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and Gilardino.
Watching the World Go By, Duo Tandem (Duotandem.com)—Unusual but throughly compelling fusion of Turkish/mediterranean music, American blues, and other influences from guitarists Mark Anderson and Necati Emirzade.
Guitar Music of Carlo Domeniconi, Celil Refik Kaya (Naxos)—Koyunbaba and Don Quijote suites and so much more in an impressive Domeniconi showcase.
Solo Sor, Petri Kumela (Tempus Clasico)—Wondrous and varied Sor program played on an 1826 René Lacôte guitar. Splendid!
The Sound of Torres, George Sakellariou (GSI) Accomplished Greek guitarist expertly employs a pair of historic Torres guitars to exquisitely render pieces ranging from Bach to Satie to Ponce to the Rolling Stones.
Diabolus in Cithara, Trio Alborada (Triton)—French guitar trio’s magical all-French outing includes Bizet, Dyens, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, and others.
Americas, Fabio Zanon (GuitarCoop)—My online review will be appearing very soon, so there is no link to that yet; just a link to the GuitarCoop site. But it’s a tremendous disc from beginning to end, as the Brazilian maestro presents a program of 22 mostly short pieces by composers from Latin and South America (as well as one from the U.S.), including “names” such as Barrios, Ponce, Bellinati, Lauro, and Gardel; but also equally great numbers from writers who are not as famous outside that region. Not to be missed! (Here’s a link to a YouTube video of a Gentil Montaña number.)
The Secrets of the Gypsy Guitar, Zingaresca Duo (IARMAC)—Guitarists Vadim Kolpakov and Oleg Timofeyev collaborate on thrilling and emotional Russian folk and Gypsy numbers.
Guitar Recital, Tengyue Zhang (Naxos)—2017 GFA winner is assured and brilliant on debut featuring works by Scarlatti, Bach, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Assad, and more.