, February 2001
"Naxos arrives at the fourth installment in its complete cycle of Napoleon Coste's guitar music. The influential 19th century French guitarist and composer wrote in an early Romantic style touched by sophisticated textures, idiomatic assurance, and formal symmetry. You might say that his music sounds like what Carl Maria von Weber might have written had he been a guitar specialist. In any event, Costé's 25 Etudes Op. 38 mask their didactic aims by way of sheer musical delight. It's fantastic guitar writing, packed with enough double-note patterns, glistening scale passages, ingenuous polyphonic effects, and sly harmonic twists to entice listeners and keep guitarists honest. Jeffrey McFadden not only is an extraordinary guitarist--he's also an inspired musician. Hear, for instance, how he breathes life into the second etude's flowing patterns, or his impeccable timing of all the cadenza-type passages throughout the etudes. What variety of touch, dynamic inflection, and color McFadden brings to the slower selections! Bass lines simply soar, and the bell-like sound he gets from the higher strings and remarkable registral independence makes us wonder if McFadden is actually playing a piano disguised as a guitar! Informative annotations, gorgeous engineering, and, well, you already know the rest. No question, this is one of the loveliest discs in Naxos' burgeoning guitar collection. Buy it."