x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Xuefei Yang: Rodrigo

The classical guitarist serves up beautifully performed music but it is lacking emotional depth.

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez

Xuefei Yang (guitar), Eiji Oue (cond), Orquestra Simfónica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya

(EMI)

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.

 

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Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 'Classical Symphony' & Symphony No. 5

Vladimir Ashkenazy (cond), Sydney Symphony Orchestra

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