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
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.