Sharon Isbin and Isabel Leonard perform Spanish "art songs"
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:
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! 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.
Alma Española Sharon Isbin (guitar) and Isabel Leonard (voice)
This enchanting album is, according to Sharon Isbin, the first major album devoted to Spanish “art song” since guitarist Narciso Yepes and Castilian mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza put out their Canciones Populares Españolas album on Deutsches Grammophon 40 years ago. That LP consisted of Federico Garcia Lorca’s 13 Canciones española antiguas and Manuel de Falla’s Siete canciones populares españolas. Those two suites form the backbone of this release by Isbin and Argentinean mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard—with new arrangements by Isbin on the Garcia Lorca set, and also quite a bit more: a splendid version of Rodrigo’s Aranjuez ma pensée (adapted by the composer from the gorgeous second movement of his Concierto de Aranjuez, with touching and evocative lyrics by Rodrigo’s wife, Victoria Kamhi); Agustín Lara’s lovely Granada; a pair of Isbin adaptations of works by Spanish composer Xavier Montsalvatge, and two splendid solo showcases for Isbin: Granados’ Danza española No. 5 and Tárrega’s Capricho árabe.
The blend of Isbin’s guitar and Leonard’s voice is both powerful and exquisite, and listeners who take the time to really delve into the lyrics of the songs—which range from impressionistic scenes and small life moments to dramatic stories about love and death (by bull!)—will be richly rewarded. (The booklet offers both the Spanish lyrics and English translations.) The recording, produced by David Frost and recorded by Tim Martyn and Bryan Losch, is exemplary.
I interviewed Isbin about the album recently; that story will appear in the Winter 2017 issue of Classical Guitar, out in November.
From Canciones española antiguas: El Cafe Chinitas, Las morillas de Jaèn, Anda jaleo (García Lorca; arr. Isbin); Danza española No. 5, Andaluza (Granados, trans. Llobet); from Canciones española antiguas: Romance de Don Boyso, Zorongo, Nana de Sevilla, La Tarara, Los mozos de Monleón, Sevillanas del siglo XVIII (García Lorca; arr. Isbin); Aranjuez ma pensée (Rodrigo); Granada (Lara, arr. Isbin); Capricho árabe (Tárrega); Siete canciones popularesespañolas (Falla; trans. Llobet/rev. Pujol); from Cinco canciones negras: Canto negro, Canción de cuna para dormir a un negrito (Montsalvatge, arr. Isbin)
The album can be purchased through Amazon and iTunes, and streamed through Apple Music and Spotify.
Below, the duo perform Manuel De Falla’s “Polo” (from Siete canciones populares españolas) a couple of years ago. Alas, it does not capture the wonderful sonics of the album, which you can hear better on the promo teaser beneath this one, edited around the cover photo shoot for Alma Española:
Boyd Meets Girl Rupert Boyd (guitar), Laura Metcalf (cello)
Boyd Meets Girl is a duo consisting of Australian guitarist (living in New York) Rupert Boyd and the very successful American cellist Laura Metcalf. I was a big fan of Boyd’s Fantasías CD a couple of years ago, so I was intrigued to hear this duo project. I was not disappointed. The pair have an easy, natural chemistry that translates to every style they tackle on this eclectic outing, which runs the gamut from Bach (spirited takes on four of the two-part inventions), to Gabriel Fauré (the luminous Pavane, Op. 50), to Manuel de Falla (Siete Canciones Populares Españolas; obviously a completely different treatment than the Isbin-Leonard version described above, but no less successful in its own way), to Bolivian-born composer Jaime Zenamon (his Reflexões No. 6 seems to be popular with guitar-cello duos at the moment; it’s a great piece!), to Michael Jackson (Human Nature, a gimmicky, lightweight pick, but if it brings in the masses, more power to ’em!). I also want to single out Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel, which is one of the most beautiful and contemplative modern pieces I’ve heard in a while. All in all, an excellent outing!
Reflexões No. 6 (Zenamon); Pavane, Op. 50 (Fauré); Two-Part Inventions: No. 8, No. 10, No. 6, No. 13 (J.S. Bach); Arafura Arioso (Edwards); Allegretto Comodo (Gnattali); Café 1930 (Piazzolla); Siete Canciones Populares Españolas—all seven parts (de Falla); Spiegel im Spiegel (Part); Human Nature (Jackson)
You can order the album through Amazon or iTunes, hear it on Apple Music, and also watch a few videos on their website.
Below, Boyd and Metcalf play a wonderful version of the “Allegretto Comodo” from Gnattali’s Sonata for Cello and Guitar:
Resonancias: Música argentina y latinoamericana vol. 2 Silvana Saldaña
Silvana Saldaña is a successful Argentinean guitarist who specializes in playing the music of Latin American composers. This is the second of two albums with that theme (the first came out in 2003; quite a gap between releases), and it features works by three Argentineans (the great Eduardo Falú, Abel Fleury, and the only living composer on the disc, Marcelo Coronel), Venezuelan Antonio Lauro, and Paraguayan genius Agustín Barrios. It’s a delightful affair from beginning to end, with much stylistic variety—a mix of dance pieces (from waltzes to milongas), ballads, and more—but also a certain consistency that I find attractive. Falú’s six-part Suite Argentina alone covers a wonderful range of textures and moods. I was not familiar with guitarist/composer Marcelo Coronel, who has a wonderful five-movement work here, Imaginario popular argentino, that features so many lovely and interesting passages. I particularly like the “Coquera” movement. And in Lauro’s Triptico, I was haunted by “La negra.” Ending the disc with four by Barrios—including the always-fun Maxixe—feels like exactly the right capstone for this appealing album.
Suite Argentina (Falu); A flor de llanto, Ausencia, Real de guitarreros (all by Fleury); Imaginario popular argentino (Coronel); Vals de Primavera, Maxixe, Oración de la tarde; Junto a tu corazón (all by Barrios)
You sample or purchase the album through Amazon, hear it on Spotify, or YouTube,
Here, Saldaña offers of version of Barrios’ playful Maxixe:
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