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Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999)
Concierto de Aranjuez
(1939) [22:34]
Stephen GOSS (b. 1964)
The Albeniz Concerto
Isaac ALBENIZ (1860-1909)
op. 165 (arr. Xuefei Yang) [17:24]
Invocacion y danza
(1961) [7:29]
Xuefei Yang (guitar)
Orquestra Simfonica de Barcelona I Nacional de Catalunya/Eiji Oue
rec. 12-15 July 2010, L’auditori, Pau Casals Hall, Barcelona.
EMI CLASSICS 6983612 [75:56]

Experience Classicsonline
Xuefei Yang and EMI Classics ring some changes on the usual merry-go-round of core guitar works. Here they deploy two works with orchestra and two without. First of all they treat us to a fine version of Rodrigo’s iconic Concierto de Aranjuez.

The guitar is recorded throughout with thrummingly immediate proximity. It’s a delight but one hopes that captivated listeners hearing these works in the concert hall will not be disappointed when a real world balance has the guitar stepping back ten paces towards the orchestra. That said the orchestra is not effaced by this balance and some touching soft details emerge with considerable sensitivity – for example in the Adagio. Xuefei Yang clearly has the Aranjuez well under her fingers.

The Albéniz piece, as created by the composer and guitarist Stephen Goss, is a concerto for guitar and orchestra “after the piano music of Isaac Albéniz”. The origins are the piano pieces: El Albaicin, Cataluña, Evocación, Cadenza and Aragón drawn from Iberia and Suite Espanola. It offers some sumptuous flights of orchestral fancy. This is more of a fantasy for orchestra 'with' guitar and is certainly a Very pleasing example of Iberiana. The work was commissioned by EMI for Yang and the Barcelona orchestra to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Albeniz’s birth. It was premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on 24 October 2009 at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool when the conductor was Shi-Yeon Sung and Xuefei Yang was the soloist.

Yang’s España sequence allows her the solo spot without orchestral distractions. She evades duplication with Goss and selects six other movements: Preludio, Tango, Malagueña, Serenata, Capricho Catalán and Zortzico. These are magnificently done and emerge fluently with technical challenges well subdued. The Tango is very effective indeed. The guitarist's tone on occasion comes across rather like that of a zither – it’s very alluring.

Rodrigo’s Invocacion y danza is a brilliant and incident-packed tribute to de Falla. Rodrigo’s hand is unmistakable and there are glances back towards Aranjuez.

All credit to EMI for recording this collection in Barcelona using that great city’s own orchestra. Eiji Oue directs; he used to be a denizen of Reference Recordings discs but can now be found on CPO (Kabalevsky) and DG as well.

Rob Barnett



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