- Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar & orchestra
- Guitar Concerto, A. 501
- Concierto del sur for guitar & orchestra
Despite its centuries-old history, the guitar has struggled to assert its place in the mainstream of classical music. The incredible artistry of Andrés Segovia was crucial to boosting the instrument's fortunes during the 20th century -- two of the works on this disc were composed for him -- but no performer has done more in recent decades than Sharon Isbin to break down barriers on the guitar's behalf. In fact, one such obstacle crumbles with the release of this disc: It's the first recording ever made by the New York Philharmonic with a guitar soloist. The composer Joaquin Rodrigo had crossed another hurdle in 1939 with his Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra: It became one of those rare "greatest hits" of classical music that breaks into popular consciousness, even if listeners don't know the source. The slow movement -- its unforgettable melody taken first by mournful English horn, then passed to the ruminating guitar -- simultaneously evokes Spanish color and ineffable poetry, and Isbin's time-stopping performance ideally matches delicacy of technique with depth of feeling. The Iberian dance rhythms of Rodrigo's fast movements are echoed in the two other concertos featured here: the Concierto del sur by Mexican composer Manuel Ponce, and the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos's Concerto for Guitar. The latter is replete with wonderfully subtle touches of orchestration, while Ponce's concerto rivals Rodrigo's for sustained tunefulness. All three works offer enchanting variations on the guitarist as troubadour, using the instrument to sing an array of melancholy, seductive, and jubilant songs. With a suavity that conceals great technical skill, Sharon Isbin is the most eloquent and persuasive performer of this repertoire today.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sharon Isbin, Lady of the Guitar, has struck again with a magnificent recording, with the NY Philharmonic, of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and two charming concerti by Villa-Lobos and Ponce. In the famous second movement of the Concierto Aranjuez, (my favorite movement) one can hear slow clouds of notes pour out of Isbin’s strings like tears torn from the past. Each note conveys a distinct emotion –pain, longing, love, lost, melancholy– while the New York Philharmonic orchestra carries a heavy thunder-like moaning, as if mourning the fanfare of the first movement and longing for the playful third movement. Isbin’s playing is lyrical, flawless. After Aranjuez, Isbin plays Villa-Lobo’s Concerto for Guitar with sophisticated simplicity. Her virtuoso technique produces enchanting rhythmic nuances and colors. This historic recording – first recording of the New York Philharmonic with a solo guitarist – ends with Ponce’s Concierto del Sur. This concerto is a festive Latin piece with a windblown-like cadenza which Isbin interprets with unparalleled charisma. The Grammy winner brings out the zesty romantic flavor of the concerto in a flirtatious dialogue with the orchestra. Isbin delivers one sculpted passionate phrase after the next. The guitar is a “very intimate instrument”( S.I) , and Isbin has forged the most symbiotic relationship ever built between the breathing wood and a beating heart. The result is beautiful music to be enjoyed in any occasion.