Recent Releases Tuesday: Albums from James Akers, Duo Amaral, and Chris Fossek

Duo Amaral

Here’s our bi-weekly listing of some 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 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!

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

                                                                                 —Blair Jackson

The Soldier’s Return: Guitar Works Inspired by Scotland
James Akers

I confess that before this CD showed up in my mailbox, I had no idea that Scottish music and literature had been so influential on classical composers. Yet here is an entire CD, by the great Scottish guitarist Jamie Akers—best known for his work with period instruments (or contemporary versions thereof)—in which he plays multiple works by Giuliani and Legnani, and one each by Sor and Mertz, all with links to Scotland. Most are drawn from or inspired by ageless Scottish folk tunes, and two were adapted from themes from Rossini operas based on Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott’s famous poem The Lady of the Lake (La donna del lago). All in all, it’s a wonderful and attractive program, full of lilting and sonorous melodies; simple on some levels, but definitely requiring some virtuosity, as well. Akers’ nicely written notes provide plenty of context for the music on this fascinating and easy-to-enjoy project.

 Variations on a Scottish Theme (Sor); The Soldier’s Return (Giuliani); Variations on Rossini’s ‘La Marcia’ (Legnani); Prelude and Scotsoises 1(Giuliani); Blue Bells of Scotland (Giuliani); Jenny’s Bawbee (Giuliani); Fingal’s Cave (Mertz); Coming Through the Rye (Giuliani); Prelude and Scotsoises 2 (Giuliani); This is no my ain Lassie (Giuliani); Variations on Rossini’s ‘Oh Quante Lagrime’ (Legnani); The Old Country Bumpkin (Giuliani)

Listen or buy through Resonus Classics.

Here, Akers plays Giuliani’s arrangement of The Bluebells of Scotland on a Romantic guitar that dates back to around 1820:

Key West
Duo Amaral

Jorge Amaral is from Mexico and his wife, Mia Pomerantz-Amaral, grew up in Israel, but they met at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland, where they studied with Manuel Barrueco and Julian Gray. This is their third CD since forming Duo Amaral in 2008, and it’s a knockout—brimming with sensational, synchronous playing on a lively and challenging set of modern pieces by four Brazilians—Sérgio Assad, Radames Gnattali, Egberto Gismonti, and Guido Santorsola (Italian by birth)—and Cuban Jose Manuel Lezcano, whose texturally varied three-part Key West Suite receives its well-achieved premiere here. Though of relatively recent vintage, the Santorsola piece is steeped in the Baroque and feels truly “antica,” as the title implies. The Gnattali and Gismonti have both become popular pieces in recent years and they fit beautifully on this collection—the former providing some contrasting Brazilian flavors to the very exciting Assad piece that starts the program, and the latter a graceful and emotional closing statement from this outstanding duo.


Tres Cenas Brasileiras (Assad); Key West Suite (Lezcano); Suite All’Antica (Santorsola); Suite Retratos (Gnattali); Agua e Vinho (Gismonti)

You can hear samples and order the album from CDBaby.

Below, Duo Amaral play “Recife Dos Corais,” the third movement of Sérgio Assad’s Tres Cenas Brasileiras:

Camino Cielo
Chris Fossek

Santa Barbara, California, guitarist and composer Chris Fossek earned his master’s in guitar from Cal Arts, where he was mentored by Miroslav Tadić, whose direct influence turns up on on this varied CD in the form of a pair of traditional Macedonian tunes that he arranged. This is an intriguing disc. Fossek’s affection for flamenco shines brightly on several tunes that feature some impressively flashy pyrotechnics (smooth and fast) and his own overdubbed palmas accompaniment (as well as other percussion and Peter Slocombe’s cool sax on two pieces). Fossek totally has the look and sound for that kind of music, though his writing in the genre strikes me as somewhat generic at times. My own taste runs more to the pretty title track, the Tadić arrangements, the Arab-influenced Wa Habibi, and especially Fossek’s concluding five-part suite, Soleau’s Canvas, which shows some real imagination and depth. That final powerful musical statement makes me want to hear more from him.

Olimpico; Eleno (trad. arr. Tadic); Drunken Horse; From Water to Wind; Cecco’s Dance, Camino Cielo, Pajduska (trad. arr. Tadic); Wa Habibi (trad.); Soleau’s Canvas: Green Reflection, A Lonely Blue, Deep Red, A Zealous Brush, Edge of Indigo

For various listening and buying options, go Chris’ website; or stream and purchase through Amazon.

In this teaser for the album, Fossek plays a bit of a piece called Pajduska:

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