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Six On Two
Antonio LAURO (1909-1986)

Valse Venezolano Nos 1, 2 and 3 [5'12]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)

Nocturnal, Op. 70 (for Julian Bream) (1964) [21'05]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)

Sonata [6'11]
Steven SCHOENBERG (b.1952)

Lullaby and Fantasy [7'53]
Peter GOLUB (b.1952)

Three Interludes (1989) [5'58]
Fernando SOR (1778-1839)

Introduction, Theme & Variations, Op. 20 [13'53]
Rob Phelps (guitar)
rec. Deerfield Academy, except Britten, rec. Brooks Rogers Recital Hall, Williams College, undated
GASPARO Galante GG 1025 [60.44]


I assume that this recital was recorded during 2006. Phelps is an Adjunct Teacher of guitar at Williams College and has been now since 1990. He’s versed in jazz as well as the classical repertoire and he’s published books on technique and also, with Fernando Valenti, six transcriptions of Scarlatti Harpsichord transcriptions. This being so it’s a bit remiss of Gasparo not to identify the particular transcription Phelps plays on this disc.

The recital ranges from Scarlatti and Sor to the contemporary charms of Schoenberg (Steven) and Golub who were both born in 1952. The Scarlatti is convincing and pliant whilst the Sor Op.20 – which if memory doesn’t defeat me Julian Bream tended to pass over in favour of some of the other Sor variational challenges – is well characterised. Phelps strikes a rather classical position here which I think quite right for though he plays warmly he never neglects the spine that runs throughout and nor does he promote a romanticised view at the expense of stylistic probity.

Lauro’s Valse Venezolano is a collection of three small, languid and colourful pieces, old fashioned in the best sense and an ear-pleaser. Schoenberg’s Lullaby and Fantasy has an infant inspiration as one might infer and makes for delightfully rocking listening especially with its baroque tinges. Golub has crafted three short pieces, little Interludes that describe the changing times of the day (Day Break, Mid-day, Lullabye, as spelled). They range from singingly chivalric to the unaffected generous, pleasurable additions to the lighter repertoire.

Britten’s Dowland-inspired Nocturnal, so reminiscent of Lachrymae is the great masterpiece here. I liked the way in which Phelps evokes the nagging insistence of the third movement (Restless) and the way he elsewhere conveys the unsettled and the insistent. Greatest emotive weight naturally is reserved for the long and involvingly complex Passacaglia finale.

With good sound quality, Phelps proves a handy guide to this repertoire, not least in the Schoenberg which was dedicated to him. It’s a miscellaneous programme that reflects his interest in new editions, new work and core classics.

Jonathan Woolf



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