Guitar Passions

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Albeniz,etc,Jobim arr. Barbosa-Lima & Lubambo,Mangoré,Mello arr. Wolf,Montana arr. Colina,Ramirez arr. Cardoso,Rodrigo arr. Almeida,Sinesi arr. Jordan
WORKS: Works by Albéniz, Jobim arr. Barbosa-Lima & Lubambo, Mangoré, Mello arr. Wolf, Montana arr. Colina, Ramirez arr. Cardoso, Rodrigo arr. Almeida, Sinesi arr. Jordan, etc
PERFORMER: Sharon Isbin, Stanley Jordan, Steve Vai (guitar), Rosa Passos, Nancy Wilson (singer), Gaudencio Thiago de Mello (percussion), Paul Winter (soprano saxophone)
CATALOGUE NO: Sony 88997842192


Sharon Isbin’s last album, Journey to the New World, was a considerable success, winning a Grammy for best instrumental soloist, becoming best-selling classical album for three internet retailers and spending 63 weeks on Billboard’s Classical Crossover chart. I was out of step: in our September 2009 issue I confessed ‘few [tracks] move or excite me. While the performances are technically excellent (Isbin is a superb player with impeccable tone, phrasing, articulation and attack), the music rarely rises above the toe-tappingly pleasant.’ Ditto for this release.


My problem is largely with the repertoire, but not entirely. The best tracks here are those featuring Isbin alone – these include Mangoré’s La catedral and Segovia’s transcription of Albéniz’s Asturias. The most disappointing is Laurindo Almeida’s arrangement of the utterly gorgeous Adagio from Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. It’s tough to bring this off without the orchestral part, but it can be done: some years ago in Barcelona I heard Manuel González perform a superb version for solo guitar. Here, instead of that heart-stopping final entry of the orchestra, there’s a jarring switch to a bossa nova rhythm with some tasteless, generic electric-guitar licks. I’m sure this new recording will sell even better than her last album. Even so, I would suggest just downloading Isbin’s solo tracks. Barry Witherden