For the next few weeks, we’re going to break our usual bi-weekly Tuesday format of alternating glimpses at new CDs with new sheet music releases, simply because we have so many new CDs coming in we need to catch up a bit! So, here are some of the CDs that have come into the Classical Guitar office recently. We’ll have three more next week.
If you have a CD you’d like to submit to us, here’s our address:
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Richmond, CA 94804-3505
Some of these will be reviewed in the magazine, some not. But we want to at least mention 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.
Winner of the important Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) International Concert Artist Competition in 2016, Xavier Jara—the first American to win since Martha Masters in 2000—has made an intriguing and satisfying debut disc (which is part of his Grand Prize package) that nicely juxtaposes Renaissance and Baroque works by Dowland and Couperin, with a gaggle of modern composers, including Mario Castlenuovo-Tedesco, Sérgio Assad, and Dusan Bogdanovic. Castlenuovo-Tedesco’s Variations à travers le siècles (Variations across the centuries) provides a quite natural bridge between the old and the new. There are two quite different modern elegies here by composerrs new to me: The one by Alan Rawsthorne is somewhat dark and contemplative, while Jeremy D. Collins’ starts out pretty and lyrical, builds to a furious crescendo, drops back into another quiet passage which grows into an exultant and then pensive reverie for the departed. It’s altogether a superb piece.
Jara takes more chances than a lot of the players in Naxos’ Laureate Series on this Recital disc, but sounds utterly confident and at ease with his choices, down to his somewhat bold inclusion of Bogdanovic’s Sonata No. 3, with its abstract jabs and violent conclusion. It’s certainly easy to understand why Jara has fared so well in the world of competitions.
A Fancy, P5; A Fantasia, P71; A Fancy, P73 (all by Dowland); Les barricades mystérieuses (Couperin); Variations à travers le siècles (Castelnuovo-Tedesco); Elegy (Rawsthorne, edited and completed by Bream); Summer Garden, Suite XIX, Dreams (S. Assad); Elegy (Collins); Caprichos de Goya, XVIII, El Sueño de la razón produce monstruos (Castelnuovo-Tedesco); Mysterious Habits; Sonata No. 3 (both by Bogdanovic)
Here is Jara playing Bogdanovic’s Sonata No. 3 in 2014 at the Boston GuitarFest, where he won first prize:
And if “modern” is not your thing, here is a link to Jara playing two of the Dowland pieces that appear on the album.
Beethoven for Two Guitars
As a fairly rabid Beethoven fan, I’ve frankly been disappointed that more of his works have not found their way into the classical guitar repertoire. I was knocked out at the recent GFA by Solo Duo’s two-guitar arrangement of the full “Moonlight” sonata, but that’s a relative rarity. Be that as it may, this exceptional disc is like manna from heaven for people like me! John Schneiderman (whom CG covered in Spring 2017 issue for his pivotal role in a box set called The Russian Guitar 1800–1850) and Hideki Yamaya present eight duets, half drawn from piano works by Beethoven, the other four from a pair of quartets, a septet, and a work for violin and piano. Two are guitar extrapolations from various piano pieces (or movements of a single piece) by Ferdinando Carulli (1771–1841), three were arranged by a Vienna-based guitar virtuoso (and contemporary of Beethoven) named Vincenz Schuster (1800–?), and there is one each from 19th century arrangers Ivan Klinger and Alexandre Heeser, and everyone’s favorite, “Anonymous.” The carefully selected and well-sequenced program serves up a fine mixture of tempos (I’m a sucker for Beethoven deep “andantes”) and moods. Overall there’s an appealing delicacy to the playing, yet the duo still manages to convey that characteristic Beethovenian gravitas when called for. On the other side, their treatment of Four Waltzes is appropriately light and lively. Look for a formal review of this in the next issue of Classical Guitar. But for now it gets my hearty recommendation!
Variations, Op. 3 (from Septet, Op. 20); Rondo (from Rondo for Violin & Piano, WoO 41); Andante, Op. 5 (from Quartet, Op. 59 No. 3); Variations and Rondo, Op. 155 (from Piano Sonata, Op. 26); Variations, Op. 4 (from Quartet, Op. 18 No. 3); Andante (from Piano Sonata, Op. 28); Four Waltzes (from Six Waltzes for Piano, Anh. 14); Fantasy, Op. 157 (from Piano Sonata, WoO 69)
The album is available for purchase or streaming through Amazon, for digital download from iTunes, or streaming via Apple Music or Spotify.
In this excellent teaser video for the album, Schneiderman and Yamaya give a taste of five different pieces from the album:
Spanish Contemporary Music for Guitar
la mà de guido
German guitarist Detlev Bork has specialized (though not exclusively) in Spanish music—both classical and flamenco—and has a fairly extensive catalog of both recordings and pieces written for him. This album, as the title indicates, consists of modern pieces by living guitarists, showing, as Bork puts it in the liner notes, “a wide range of styles, from works in perfect [perhaps he means “classic”?] but also modern flamenco style, up to avant-garde and minimalist music. Each of the five composers… has his own compositional style and it was my desire to make this diversity accessible in compressed form on one CD.” Don’t let “avant-garde” scare you off. There is only one piece here that approaches that designation (Kedem, and it’s only mildly modern), whereas the great majority of pieces are clearly influenced by what one could call Spanish nationalist strains, from folk music to flamenco. I was particularly struck by the two pieces by José María Gallardo Del Rey and the four beautifully contrasting nuggets by Andrés Batista (especially Generalife). But it’s all engaging and well-played; a nice contemporary spin on the traditional Spanish idiom. Check it out on YouTube (Link below). I want to hear more from this guitarist!
Banderillas de Tiniebla (Del Rey); Feria de Abril (Del Rey); Hommage an Benjamin Britten (Torrent); Generalife; Trataneros; Gitanilla; Sabor antillano (all by Batista); Kedem (Guerra); Preludio y Postludio (Castilla-Ávila); Once (Castilla-Ávila)
Below is an audio-only YouTube recording of Banderillas de Tiniebla, written by José María Gallardo Del Rey:
Previous New CD Listings:
October 4: 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: 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