Collection: Guitarra Espanola

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Albeniz,Falla,Granados,Mudarra
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Spanish music for solo guitar and guitar concertos
PERFORMER: Narciso Yepes (guitar)Orquesta Sinfónica RTV Española/Odón Alonso; London Symphony Orchestra/Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos; Philharmonia Orchestra/Garcia Navarro
CATALOGUE NO: 435 841 2 ADD/DDD

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This five-CD box of reissues from Deutsche Grammophon contains three discs of solo works (by, among others, Mudarra, Albéniz, Granados and Falla) and two of guitar concertos (Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, Fantasia para un gentilhombre and Concierto Madrigal, plus works by Bacarisse, Ruiz-Pipó and Ohana). The three solo discs leave one in no doubt that Narciso Yepes has an impressive technical command of the guitar, and the quality of the recordings is always good.

But I must confess to not liking the odd, jerky playing, with random accents and sudden colour effects for no apparent reason. However, they provide a pleasant dip into the restrictive Spanish guitar repertoire. Yepes plays on a 10-string guitar (instead of the usual six-string), which adds a resonance to his playing. This works especially well in the solo Danza de Molinero by Falla, which for me was the highlight of the three hours of solo playing.

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The two volumes of concertos are more enjoyable, as Yepes’s playing seems better suited to orchestral work – it’s good to hear the fast scale passages played so securely in the Aranjuez concerto, even if the timing of them seems quirky. Rodrigo’s Concierto Madrigal for two guitars is particularly good (the second guitar part being played by Godelieve Monden). Since this is not a bargain selection (though attractively boxed), one might do better to build up a guitar collection with a variety of performers. Anthea Gifford