Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968)
Platero and I
Capriccio Diabolico (Homage to Paganini)
Manuel PONCE (1882-1948)

Variations on Folia de España and Fugue
Vincente ASENCIO (1908-1979)
Three Homages
Johan Fostier, guitar
Recorded in St. John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, 26th- 30th April 2002.
NAXOS 8.557039
[67.34]



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The ongoing Naxos Laureate Series has provided, in its guitar discs (often featuring prizewinners from the Guitar Foundation of America Competition) some compelling listening. Many of the discs have been "must buys" for anyone at all interested in the classical guitar but Antigoni Goni's disc of Domeniconi's Koyunbaba and Mompou's Suite Compostellana and her John Duarte collection (the English Suite is superb!) take some beating. In this instance, the young Belgian, Johan Fostier comes very close!

One gratifying aspect of this series is its refusal to conform to stereotypical repertoire, so even when major Spanish or, in this case, "Spanish-derived" items are included, they are complemented by something a little more unusual. There is absolutely nothing to dislike in Fostier's performance of the Ponce, and it holds up well against existing versions, even by the likes of John Williams. However, the main interest here, to this listener, was the inclusion of two works by the Italian composer Castelnuovo-Tedesco who later emigrated to the US and whose neo-classical first guitar concerto is an absolute must for lovers of the modern guitar. They are both highly listenable - the first, based on the travels of the poet Jiménez and his donkey Platero, was originally performed with a text recitation from the poetry but stands up well as music in itself; it is by and large ruminative, meditative and sometimes languid but never less than charming and often folk-like without a particularly Spanish flavour (the closing few bars of The Canary Flies would sound equally well on a Viennese zither!). The homage to fellow Italian Paganini is a good deal more subtle than much of the music of its dedicatee and its mood often looks forward to the guitar concerto of four years later. The feeling of the piece is not always that far removed from the music of the aforementioned contemporary and compatriot Domeniconi - reflective, Mediterranean I suppose, but subtly different from most equivalent Spanish works; "classical restraint" is a descriptive cliché that actually might apply here. Whatever, those expecting pyrotechnics and a "rhapsody" type tribute will be disappointed. I was happy to be immersed in some glorious if introverted music.

The little known Asencio is a slightly different kettle of fish - a Spanish "modernist" looking westwards towards Buenos Aires and north to France for inspiration. The dedicatees of his three homages (the Lorca tango excepted, perhaps, for the literary minded) are probably as difficult to identify from the music, as is the Paganini in Castenuovo-Tedesco's piece, but the works are effective miniatures and no doubt add an extra worth to the disc (much greater I would imagine for guitar completists).

As always, Norbert Kraft and Bonnie Silver have engineered and produced a superb recording, so I have no hesitation in recommending this wholeheartedly to anyone who is remotely interested in the contemporary guitar. A great antidote to stress - you may care to listen to minimalism on the motorway but put this on when you get home and unwind!

Neil Horner


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