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Guitar recital: Anabel Montesinos
Dionysio AGUADO (1784-1849)

Introduction and Rondo, Op. 2 No. 3
Napoleon COSTE (1805-1883)

Serenade and Scherzo, Op. 23
Julian ARCAS (1832-1882)

Giulio REGONDI (1823-1872)

Introduction and Caprice, Op. 23
Johann Kaspar MERTZ (1806-1856)

Hungarian Fantasy
Francisco TARREGA (1852-1909)

Capricho Arabe, Preludes II, IX, X
Miguel LLOBET (1878-1938)

Scherzo-Vals, Variations on a theme by Sor
Anabel Montesinos (guitar)
Rec. St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, 27-31 March 2003
Laureate Series - Guitar Recital
NAXOS 8.557294 [62.15]


The great classical guitarist Julian Bream once referred to a particular guitar made by the French luthier Robert Bouchet, which the former had treasured above all others but was subsequently stolen, as an "absolute pearl". This is a most apt description for this new release.

Much of the music released on the Naxos ‘Laureate Series for Guitar’ represents that written for the instrument by guitarists and this anthology is a typical example. It contains well known items as well as less familiar pieces all written predominantly in the 19th century. Of those presented, Opus 23 by Giulio Regondi is the longest work [9:59]. Compositions by this composer are still being uncovered and the opus numbers of accessible works suggest that still more may yet come to light. The compositions represented by Arcas, Coste, and Mertz will be less familiar than those by Tarrega

The recent Julian Bream DVD, ‘My Life In Music’, further highlights the intrinsic worth of compositions from the pen of composers such as Tarrega and Aguado. Similarly the musicianship featured here breathes life and vigour into these original works for guitar, many of which have been left fallow for too long.

However it is not predominantly the music per se which makes this such a pearl but the artist herself. Anabel Montesinos is twenty years old, and since commencing the guitar at the age of six, has an impressive list of achievements to her name. After reviewing her renditions of the Tarrega pieces, Capricho Arabe, Preludes II, IX and X, it is not surprising to learn that she won first prize in the 2002 International Tarrega Competition in Benicasim. Her rendition of Introduction and Rondo by Aguado may not have quite the same magic as that of Bream (DVD and RCA RL 14033), but nonetheless it is very well done.

The beauty of her playing is challenging to articulate, but conspicuous by comparison with contemporaries. Her touch is highly refined. The melodic lines have a special singing quality and her tone production, to coin a phrase from my teenage daughter’s vocabulary, is "drop-dead gorgeous". While the instrument used is not specified, with the kind assistance of the co-producer Bonnie Silver, the luthier has been identified as Paco Santiago Marin, Granada. The combination of this instrument with the player’s tone production capabilities is an association made in Heaven.

Our preferences and opinions are invariably derived from comparisons and specific points of reference. Another "pearl" used frequently as a personal point of reference is the Lara St. John recording, Bach Works For Violin Solo - Well Tempered Productions 5542-55180-2. Her playing, especially in the Ciaccona from BWV 1004, exhibits those same qualities which are challenging to articulate but most conspicuous from multiple comparisons with other players. The Serious Listener described this disc as a "collectors item". I believe the Montesinos disc is in the same category but an even greater bargain given the large retail price differential.

Anabel Montesinos is a gifted guitarist, a fine musician, possessing qualities, which set her apart in a very crowded field. The greatest guitarist of the 20th century, the late Ida Presti whose name and amazing capabilities are relatively unknown to the world of classical music is ample evidence that technical mastery and musicianship alone do not ensure fame and fortune. I trust that circumstances will be kind to Anabel Montesinos because only they can inhibit her future success.

Zane Turner

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