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Posted August 26, 2011
Irina Kulikova - Guitar Laureate - NAXOS
The form of the guitar recital, as first championed by Tarrega and later virtually carved in stone by Segovia, consists of a mixed repertoire chosen from the baroque, classical and modern eras and was initially intended to establish the versatility of the instrument. With the "legitimacy" of the guitar as a serious concert instrument now viewed as an accepted fact, the recital form is now used in recordings and live performance more as a way to showcase the talents of emerging guitarists. As such, it can sometimes feel static and a little restrictive.
However, in the hands of a sensitive and talented musician like Irina Kulikova, the guitar recital becomes much more than a display of mere technical proficiency. Her arrangement of Bach's "Cello Suite No. 1" (transposed from the original key of G to the more guitar-friendly key of D) is masterful and evidence of a deep musical understanding of the original composition, as is her rendering of Sor's "Fantasie, Op. 30", the intimacy and energy of which are highlighted by Ms. Kulikova's dynamic performance.
The modern era is initially represented by Castelnuovo-Tedesco's "Guitar Sonata in D major, Op. 77", an homage to Boccherini written at the request of Segovia, which Ms. Kulikova manages with both delicacy and a well-deserved confidence; but the highlight of this collection is Gallardo del Rey's "California Suite", beautiful and evocative and, once again, played flawlessly.
In short, Irina Kulikova's "Guitar Laureate" is a flat-out gorgeous recording and a must-have for anyone interested in the classical guitar.
Highly Recommended 10 out of 10 Oscar O. Veterano