Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez
Xuefei Yang (guitar), Eiji Oue (cond), Orquestra Simfónica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya
There are few more delicately poignant works than the famous Concierto de Aranjuez, written in 1940 by the Spanish composer Rodrigo, and it is, for many, the pinnacle of the classical guitar repertoire. The first movement, all spry rhythms and orchestral clarity, is light and lyrical, though somehow this version lacks the lift and definition of the best performance. The orchestra is perhaps partially to blame for this - the Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang certainly does not lack in feeling or technique, yet in spite of the pacy tempos (consistent with Rodrigo's own directions) and her own immense musicality, the work feels a little muddy. Similarly, the melancholy second movement rarely achieves the sense of desolation that its open orchestral chords and deep-pitched, rubato solos offer, leaving the listener with a sense of having heard a very beautifully performed piece of music, without ever being really touched. The other works on the CD, by Albéniz and based on works by Albéniz, are equally lovely to listen to but fail to quite reach the heart. The final works by the British composer John Brunning are rather banal and an odd choice on which to end the album.
Also out in classical
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 'Classical Symphony' & Symphony No. 5
Vladimir Ashkenazy (cond), Sydney Symphony Orchestra
The pianist-turned-conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy directs the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in two symphonies that show the full range of the Russian composer Prokofiev's brilliance, from the neo-classical clarity of the first, to the fifth, written in Soviet Russia in 1944, in the midst of the Second World War.
Russell Watson: The Platinum Collection
If you're a fan of this crossover tenor you're probably desperate to get your hands on whatever he releases. There are old favourites such as O Sole Mio and Time to Say Goodbye, mixed with standards such as Me and Mrs Jones and Let It Snow.