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Sor guitar 4258212
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Fernando SOR (1778-1839)
Grand Solo, Op 14 [8:46]
Fantaisie élégiaque [16:04]
Sonata in C major, Op 15 No 2 [5:31]
Etude, Op 35 No 16, 17 [2:40]
Etude, Op 6 No 6, 8, 4 [4:31]
Etude, Op 29 No 23 [1:50]
Les Adieux [4:54]
Sonata in C minor [24:12]
Eduardo Fernández (guitar)
rec. 1989, Decca Church Street Studios, London
Presto CD
DECCA 425 821-2 [68:42]

This recording is a reissue of a CD originally released in 1991 and recorded two years prior. During the ensuing three decades, much has changed in the world of the classical guitar: an instrument in constant construction evolution, and an ever-increasing number of outstanding young virtuosi who continue successfully to challenge the rather formidable technical boundaries of the guitar. Comparatively, none of this change has diminished the lustre one finds in this recording.

The guitar virtuoso Eduardo Fernández was born in 1952 in Uruguay, and began his study of the guitar when seven years of age. His principal tutors were Abel Carlevaro Hector Tosar, and Guido Santórsola. After previous wins in several international guitar competitions, he won First Prize in the acclaimed Andrés Segovia Competition, Mallorca, 1975. His New York debut in 1977 won critical acclaim and his London debut at the Wigmore Hall in 1983 had significant impact. It was followed by an exclusive recording contract with Decca; this subsequently resulted in eighteen recordings covering a wide range of the guitar repertory.

Fernández has been active in teaching at the University School of Music in Montevideo. Since 2002 he has yearly conducted master classes at Gitarre und Natur, Erinbach, Germany. He has also authored a book of essays on Bach’s lute music and a major book on guitar technique.

The programme is all from the pen of Catalan composer/guitarist, Fernando Sor; no name is more famous in the annals of classical guitar. Of the music presented, five are weightier pieces from Sor’s opera, the remainder are studies for the instrument. Sor wrote not only for the guitar, but as a virtuoso the legacy he left the instrument is quite marvellous, especially harmonically. One of his great gifts was the ability to combine, within his studies for guitar, didactic endeavour with sublime musical beauty. When working through these absolute masterpieces, one sometimes struggles in ascertaining to which objective he gave priority.

The most famous guitar music ever published is a series of 20 studies by Sor which Andrés Segovia edited circa 1945. These are all from the Opp 6, 29, 31 and 35. series. The present recording includes the same selections from Opp 6, 29, and 35 but also No 4 from Op 6.

Immediately conspicuous on audition is the excellent sonic quality of the Decca CD. This allows the sound of the instrument employed to be highlighted to its full advantage. Fernández plays a guitar made by the French luthier, Daniel Friedrich (1986). Both players and listeners will have their own ideas on how a guitar should sound. One cannot question the greater volume achievable with some modern, deviant designs; invariably this is at the expense of the embracing guitar ‘sound’ and tonal qualities to be heard on this recording. Of course the role of the player in extracting these intrinsic qualities must never be discounted.

The playing by Fernández is exemplary; he is an excellent musician with complete command of his instrument. Those who have laboured over the studies of Sor will appreciate the clarity, precision and speed with which they are executed: both a musical and technical triumph. Particularly impressive is the study in thirds, Op 6 No 6 (7). In terms of tempo and rhythm, the only other player I have heard to compare with this rendition is Alirio Díaz (Vanguard VSD 71135). The weightier pieces are all played with the same laudable qualities.

Zane Turner

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