This man is as fine
a guitarist as I have ever heard. He
is aided and abetted by this beautifully
chosen and structured recital which,
quite rarely, I find that one can listen
to from start to finish. The recording
is also ideal and a real pleasure in
a realistic acoustic. It contains music
that is both expressive and virtuosic
from the early 19th Century to the 1990s.
is a young Russian (born 1980) who has
experience in giving recitals all over
Eastern Europe as well as in Germany
and Japan. In 2002 he won the 2002 Guitar
Foundation of America Competition. Part
of the prize was the making of a CD,
an excellent idea. In 1997 he also won
the Moscow Guitar Competition and the
list of his successes goes on. The very
interesting booklet notes by none other
than the doyen of guitarists and guitar
music are written by John Duarte. He
provides a detailed biography of Illarionov
and writes eloquently on the composers
and the music.
As is usual with the
guitar repertoire much of it is not
commonly known by the general music
lover. Take for example Mauro Giuliani,
a prolific contemporary of Beethoven;
not just a great guitarist but a highly
refined composer as his Grande Overture
shows. This is in sonata form and almost
makes the guitar appear to be an orchestra
in its own right. It is a formally clear
piece given a sparkling and utterly
'Cavatina' is a five movement work lasting
something approaching fifteen minutes.
It is rather neo-classical in nature
with titles like ‘Barcarolle’ and ‘Sarabande’.
Tansman wrote eight symphonies and was
a very serious composer. At Segovia's
request he deliberately altered his
language for this charming work.
Roland Dyens is probably
a new name to most of us. He is from
Tunis and is also well known as a fine
guitarist .His charming, indeed irresistible,
piece is called 'Valse en skai'; ‘skai’
being leather: "something glossy, cheap
and cheerful" (John Duarte).
Igor Rekhin has become
the first composer to write Preludes
and Fugues in all the keys for solo
guitar. The composer is quoted in the
notes: "I often consciously admixed
the classical and avant-garde and united
them with elements of jazz, rock music,
and Latin-American rhythms." This is
what you find represented in the three
examples here, which, incidentally are
also incredibly demanding. The Bb Prelude
and Fugue is a good example of the classical;
the Db is rather 'bluesy'.
is a mere bagatelle in length but complex
in delivery having been composed as
a set piece in the senior division of
a competition in Voronezh in 1996. Its
jerky movements evoke a puppet.
was a versatile composer. I love his
Violin Concerto but it is his typically
characterful guitar music that is heard
most often, especially the guitar concertos.
This marvellous piece pays homage to
Paganini who had an ability to make
easy music sound difficult (quite a
useful compositional skill). It is the
question of the devil's inspiration
that lies behind this virtuoso composition.
There is also, towards the end, a brief
quote from Paganini's 'La Campanella'.
Like wine the best
is left until the end. This comes in
the form of the extraordinary Variations
on 'Carnival of Venice' by Tarrega,
the so-called father of the modern guitar.
Here almost every possible guitar technique
and special effect is used, including
a weird glissando and various fluttery
type noises. Musically it might be a
bit thin, but it makes entertaining
All in all no-one is
likely to be disappointed with this
CD and you don't have to be an aficionado
to enjoy this lovely recital.