Monday, September 12, 2011

Two Young Guitarists

Before you all go out and buy a copy of the well-promoted debut recording of Milos Karadaglic, I want to recommend two other guitarists who are well worth hearing. The first is Ana Vidovic, winner of the 1998 Tarrega competition, who has both CDs and DVDs available. Here is a selection. She is an excellent player and her debut recording on Naxos displays a fine selection of repertoire. As a player, she most resembles, perhaps, Manuel Barrueco, with her incisive clarity of touch. Everything, especially Bach, seems just a bit too fast. The complexity of Bach's harmonies, to my mind, needs a bit more room to breath. There are also terrific performances of the Sonata romantica by Ponce and the Five Bagatelles of Walton. She is an outstanding and musical player with just loads of technique. Here she is playing the last movement of Barrios' La Catedral. She actually sounds much better than on this scratchy, trebly recording:

The other player I want to recommend is the Quebec guitarist Jérôme Ducharme, winner of the 2005 Guitar Foundation of America competition. Here is his debut recording. Naxos really seems to be dominating the market these days. No Bach on this recording, but a fantastic version of the Tres piezas españolas of Joaquin Rodrigo. There is a lovely recording of perhaps the best piece of Canadian guitar music as well: the Suite, op 41 of Jacques Hétu. The sonata by Ginastera is also on the CD,  but I just can't seem to come to love it! The real discovery, though, is the Fantaisie-Sonata, op A22 by Juan Manén, a piece I have read through many times and thought was quite remarkable, but have never heard anyone play before. Here he is, playing the Fandango from the Rodrigo. He too, sounds better than this. These YouTube clips always seem to have a harsh sound...



Anonymous said...

Oh my. What a trip down memory lane... I used to cherish my old by Turibio Santos LP with that Barrios piece.

There's something about Latin composers finding a fresh take on Bach's ideas. (The Bachianas brasileiras being another good example.)

These young people's technique is downright scary. Can't imagine how long and hard they must practice.

Anonymous said...

"old by Turibio" --> "old Turibio"

Bryan Townsend said...

Turibio Santos is a fine player and I used to have a couple of his CDs as well on a French label. The Barrios is an inrteresting piece. John Williams has done an excellent recording of all three movements (as have I, ahem). But after re-hearing this version of the last movement, I think that the ending is an example of compositional failure. Even with loads of virtuosity it doesn't quite come off and I think the reason is that Barrios, failing to think of anything better, falls back on a gesture typical to the piano, but awkward on the guitar: a B minor arpeggio over three octaves followed by solid chords in each octave. On the piano, you just toss it off, but on the guitar it is a struggle. I think if I were playing this piece these days I would re-write the ending. Fewer octaves and a little more harmonic ingenuity, I think, would do the trick.