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Andrès Segovia – The 1946 New York and the 1949 London Recordings
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004: V. Chaconne (arr. for guitar) [12:13]
Lute Suite No. 2 in E minor, BWV 996 – Sarabande and Bourée (arr. for guitar) [04:53]
Fugue in G minor, BWV 1000 (arr. for guitar) [04:21]
Prelude in C minor, BWV 999 (arr. for guitar) [1:15]
Lute Suite in No. 4 in E major, BWV 1006a: III. Gavotte (arr. for guitar) [02:52]
Cello Suite No.3 BWV 1009 – Courante (arr. for guitar)  [2.45]
Cello Suite No.6 BWV 1012 – Gavotte (arr. for guitar)  [3.47]
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Etude No.8 in C sharp minor [2.43]
Etude No.1 in E minor [1.67]
Federico Moreno TORROBA (1891-1982)
Suite Castellan Nos 1 and 2 [4.43]
Joaquin TURINA (1882-1949)
Fandanguillo [3.53]
Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968)
Tarantella in A minor, Op. 87a [3.50]
Guitar Concerto No.1 in D major Op.99 [18.59] *
Manuel Maria PONCE (1886-1948)
Sonata meridional [8:32]
Andrés Segovia (guitar)
New London Orchestra/Alec Sherman *
rec. New York, December 1946 (Bach Musicraft albums) and June and July 1949 in London (remainder)
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.111088 [76.47]


The Bach items here, derived from the Musicraft albums recorded in 1946, are outstanding examples of Segovia’s musicianship – I suppose many people will have come across some if not all of them over the years. The collector will note that they duplicate Doremi’s ongoing Segovia and his Contemporaries series – one that takes in such under-sung names as Luise Walker. Apart from the matter of further noting that Naxos gets the recording details correct – December 1946 – there is the question of transfer quality. In my previous Doremi reviews (see below for a list of reviews of the Doremi Segovia series) I’ve mentioned the very variable quality of their transfers and they are further shown in bas-relief by comparison with these new transfers by David Lennick.
 
Lennick retains quite a high level of shellac noise but doesn’t compromise higher frequencies so that Segovia’s tone emerges in all its multi-hued and variegated glory. Doremi’s is treble-starved and boxy with the result that Bach’s contrapuntal writing is occluded and clouded. Furthermore the colouristic depth that Segovia employed and the timbral subtleties that informed it are largely absent in Doremi’s scorched earth policy of hiss removal. Not to belabour the point but comparison of the Cello Suite’s Courante shows the glaring disparity between dextrous colour and grainy opacity. There’s no contest. Which isn’t to say that Lennick’s transfers are perfect. The guitar ricochets out of the speakers sometimes with disconcerting vigour and there are a couple of occasions where I felt he has dampened the treble a little too much – one of them is the Bach Fugue – though this is really of little account in the scheme of things.
 
The rest of the material is full of dancery and motoric precision, evocative Iberian sunshine. The Villa-Lobos First Etude goes like a bomb whilst the Tarantella of Castelnuovo-Tedesco is saturated in elegant rhythmic drive and élan. His neo-classical concerto is a delight as well – Boccherini coated with honey. Its evocative slow movement is the high point and Alec Sherman directs the winds with a succulent baton.
 
This makes a fine companion to Naxos’s release of Segovia’s 1944 American recordings.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 

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Segovia and his Contemporaries - Doremi
Volume 3 - Jonathan Woolf
Volume 4 - Jonathan Woolf Göran Forsling



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