Recent Albums: Guitar and… Violin (Luciano and Mauro Tortorelli), Mezzo-soprano (Eva Beneke and Nerea Berraondo), and Cello (José Lezcano and Rebecca Hartka)

Eva Beneke (L) and Nerea Berraondo perform Sor songs

Most weeks we take a peak at recent albums or sheet music releases. Here are three of the CDs that have come into the Classical Guitar office recently.

If you have a CD you’d like to submit to us, here’s our address:

Classical Guitar
501 Canal Blvd. suite J
Richmond, CA 94804-3505

Some of the albums we talk about online will be reviewed in the magazine, some not. But we want to at least mention most of them here. You can listen to some of these on various of streaming services, but we always encourage you to support the artists by actually buying anything you like! Obviously we cannot research and report every outlet or online business where these albums are sold, so check your favorite places that sell CDs and downloads!

To see our previous listings, scroll to the bottom of the page.

                                                                                 —Blair Jackson

Francesco Molino: Sonate per chitarra e violino
Luciano Tortorelli (guitar), Mauro Tortorelli (violin)

Francesco Molino (1768–1847) was a well-known Italian composer, teacher, guitarist, and violinist who made his name in Paris near the beginning of the 19th century. This disc consists of world premiere recordings of two sets of three sonatas written for guitar and violin in 1812 and 1813, all very much products of that Classical, pre-Romantic age. Four of the six follow a three-movement format of Allegro, Romanza/Andantino (and in one case, Adagio), and Rondo/Allegretto or Allegro; the other two cut out the Romanza movement. In Mario Torta’s informative notes, he points out that it is significant that Molino billed these works as being “for guitar with violin accompaniment”; in other words, giving the guitar more prominence than one often finds in works featuring the guitar in tandem with another instrument. Indeed, the guitar parts are delightfully prominent and sumptuous, at least an equal partner throughout. Torta also comments on the “simplicity and restraint of [Molino’s] style… the ‘gracefulness’ of his approach to composition that somehow sets him apart from from the more exuberant models, such as [contemporaries] Giuliani and Carulli. The delicacy and clearness of his writing express his great mastery in the use of instruments… ” The playing by Italy’s Tortorelli brothers is superb. Very impressive, and also a lot of fun!

Sonata 1, op. 2; Sonata II, op. 2; Sonata 3, op.2; Sonata 1, op. 7, Sonata II, op. 7, Sonata III, op. 7

The album can be heard and purchased through Naxos, Amazon, and, in Europe, Tactus; and heard on Spotify and piecemeal on YouTube.

Fernando Sor: Songs for Voice and Guitar
Eva Beneke (guitar), Nerea Berraondo

About a month ago, we talked about a fine recent disc called Ombre Amene, by guitarist James Akers and soprano Gabriella Di Laccio, which included eight works by Fernando Sor (1778–1839), six of them Seguidillas. On this album by German guitarist Eva Beneke and Spanish mezzo-soprano Nerea Berraondo, those six are interspersed among 20 Spanish songs by Sor (though according to CG contributing editor Graham Wade’s excellent notes, the late Matanya Ophee cautioned that some of the songs attributed to Sor might not actually be by him). Whatever their provenance, they are pretty, emotional and inspiring, and beautifully performed here. (Printing the lyrics would have been helpful for going deeper into the pathos of these songs of love and longing and death, but we can’t have everything!) Whereas the Akers/ Di Laccio disc had the Sor pieces splitting works by Mauro Giuliani, this one opens with Sor’s takes on three arias from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and I prefer these to the Giuliani Sei Ariette. Then, following the large Spanish section, the duo performs five French songs of differing origins. I particularly love Appel des nègres aux Français (“Appeal of the negro slaves to the French”), which Wade describes as “a passionate appeal from the slaves to the concepts of French liberty”; very moving.  The album concludes with a pair of stirring “Spanish Patriotic Songs.” There’s lots of variety here, so it should appeal to many, not just guitar or opera fans.

4 Italian Arias; 20 Spanish Songs; 5 French Songs; 2 Spanish Patriotic Songs

You can listen to and purchase this album through NaxosAmazon, and iTunes/AppleMusic, or hear it on Spotify or YouTube.

José Lezcano (guitar), Rebecca Hartka (cello), Barbara Lysakowski (piano)
Becsta Records

We put José Lezcano’s name first here because we’re a guitar magazine/website, but we must acknowledge that this is really cellist Rebecca Hartka’s project, and she provides the through-line here, appearing on duets with Lezcano to begin and end the album, and with pianist Barbara Lysakowski in the middle (performing lovely pieces by Ravel and Debussy, as well as Piazzolla’s Oblivion). The cello-guitar showcases include a breezy Brazilian piece by Jacob do Bandolim (Jacob Pick Bittencourt ), originally written for mandolin; the premiere recording of Cuban guitarist Lezcano’s nicely varied three-movement Sonata for Cello and Guitar, which contains traces of Cuban folk, vivid splashes of tango, and a deeply moving middle Adagio that feels like it might have drawn some inspiration from Ravel and Debussy in parts; and the concluding Sonata for cello and guitar, a piece from 1969 by another Brazilian, Radamés Gnattali—an extraordinary work full of beautiful melodies and interesting rhythmic moments that really show its Brazilian heritage. It certainly must stand as one of the finest pieces written specifically for this increasingly popular combination of instruments. Recommended!

Doce de Coco (Jacob do Bandolim); Sonata for Cello and Guitar (Lezcano); Piéce en forme de Habanera (Ravel); Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor (Debussy); Oblivion (Piazzolla); Sonata for cello and guitar (Gnattali)


You can listen to and/or purchase Colors through Bandcamp

Here’s the Alegretto movido from Lezcano’s Sonata for Cello and Guitar:

Previous CD listings:

October 4, 2016: Jacob Cordover, Oleg Timofeyev and John Schneiderman, Arkaïtz Chambonnet, Matthew Fish, Gidi Ifergan

October 18: Norbert Kraft and Jeffrey McFadden, Steve Cowan, Katrin Endrikat, Jason Vieaux and Julien Labro, Yenne Lee, Emanuele Segre

November 1: Virginia Luque and Bojidara Kouzmanova, Jon Gjylaci, Fabiano Borges, Alfonso Baschiera, Miscelanea Guitar Quartet, J.P. McShane

November 15: Antigoni Goni, Adam Levin, Radoŝ Malidžan, Black Cedar, Lou Marinoff, Antonio Malinconico

November 22: Marcelo de la Puebla, ChromaDuo, Carsten Pedersen, Thibaut Garcia, Yiannis Giagourtas

December 13: Zsófia Boros, Andrea Bissoli, Philippe Sly & John Charles Britton, Carlos Dorado, Steven Joseph

December 27:  João Carlos Victor, Frank Wallace, Simon Thacker & Justyna Jablonska

January 10, 2017: Alberto La Rocca, Jeffrey McFadden & Michael Kolk, Stefan Koim

January 24: Fabio Zanon, Marcelo Kayath, David Norton & Cindy Spell, Jeff Gosselin

February 7: Canadian Guitar Quartet, Mats Bergström, John Sargent, Dimitris Kotronakis

February 21: James Akers & Gary Branch, Karol Samuelčík, Josef Mazan, John Lehman-Haupt

March 7: Meng Su, Raphaella Smits, Michaela Hrabankova & Gabriel Bianco, Mark Westling

March 21: Sabrina Vlaskalic, Ozan Saritepe, Simon Cheong

April 4: James Akers, Duo Amaral, Chris Fossek

April 18: Pepe Romero, Vicente Coves & Extremadura Orchestra; Carlos Walter; David Härenstam (et al.)

May 2: Kaiser Schmidt Guitar Duo, Montréal Guitare Trio, Nazrin Rashidova & Slanislav Hvartchilkov

May 16: Paul Galbraith, Marc Teicholz, Koen Claeys

May 3o: Michal Svoboda, Izhar Elias

June 13: Eliot Fisk, Duo Salmona-Valette, Evgeny Beleninov

July 11: Xavier Jara, Schneiderman-Yamaya Duo, Detlev Bork

July 25: Cristiano Poli Cappelli, Dúo Villa-Lobos, Giancarlo DiPierro

August 1: Sharon Isbin & Isabel Leonard, Boyd Meets Girl, Silvana Saldaña

August 8: Brasil Guitar Duo,  Maria Camitz & Leif Hesselberg, Duo Bohemico

August 22: Kenneth Meyer, Flamenco Pacifico, Jonathan Richards

September 12: Hamish Strathdee, Thanos Mitsalas Plays Assad Chamber Works, Tony Romano

October 11: Quatuor Eclisses, Michael Kolk/Nick Peros, Yuri Liberzon

October 25: Lukasz Kuropaczewski, Paul Psarras, James Akers & Gabriella Di Laccio

November 8: Zoran Dukic, Matt Withers, Paul Bellam-Cross