Rodrigo Ponce Villa Lobos

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COMPOSERS: Rodrigo Ponce Villa Lobos
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Sharon Isbin
WORKS: Concierto de Aranjuez
PERFORMER: Sharon IsbinNew York Philharmonic OrchestraJose Serebrier
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 60296 2
Joaquín Rodrigo seems to have been

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fairly free with his endorsements.

‘A new recording of my guitar works

is always a source of satisfaction,’

he claimed. ‘But in the case of

this young Spanish performer,

that satisfaction becomes delight.

Marco Socías offers a profound and

emotional journey through some

of my most emblematic works…’

About Sharon Isbin, who here

presents her second recording of

the Concierto de Aranjuez, Rodrigo

was equally enthusiastic: ‘I am

enchanted by the magnificent

interpretation of my works by the

splendid guitarist Sharon Isbin.’

Even a composer of the renown

of Rodrigo likes to be performed,

and it probably wasn’t a bad idea

to let more than one player believe

they had his special imprimatur, but

such even-handedness does make it

difficult to say whether any account

of this old warhorse was in any sense

an ‘approved’ version. However, I

have no doubt Rodrigo would have

enjoyed Isbin’s latest reading, and

most listeners will, too. Her playing is not entirely free from mannerism

– stuttering slightly towards the

beginning, sudden rubatos in the

Adagio – but there is an agreeable

expansiveness to both her and the

New York Philharmonic’s playing

under José Serebrier. Fortes are

given full, generous measure. A

sweeping optimism seems to power

the performers along – as much

in the lesser-known concertos by

Villa-Lobos and Ponce as Rodrigo’s

centrepiece. As a benchmark, try

the aforementioned Marco Socías.

There is something more of Classical

restraint in his approach – but who’s

to say what the composer really

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wanted. Christopher Wood