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Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, May 2009

Considering that some of these recordings are not far off sixty years old the sound is splendid and allows us to revel in the rich colours and live rhythms of Segovia’s playing. The sicilienne from the G minor violin sonata (tr. 5) is one of the finest things here, exploring the sonorities of the calm and beautiful music. The real challenge—for violinists and guitarists alike—is however the chaconne from the D minor partita (tr. 9). In Segovia’s transcription it was first performed in Paris on 4 June 1935, almost twenty years before this recording was made. His technical superiority is never in question but also as an almost transcendental reading of the music it has a lot to offer. It seems that he comes closer to the heart of the matter than any other guitarist—or violinist for that matter. Among the lesser pieces the loure from the third cello suite (tr. 10) has a drive that is infectious—and so has the fugue from the G minor violin sonata (tr. 11).

The non-Bach pieces also have their rewards. Handel’s minuet in D (tr. 13) is a charmingly melodious piece and this also goes for the short gavotte (tr. 15). C.P.E. Bach’s siciliana has some surprising dissonances, the well known ballet from Orfeo ed Euridice is a lovely encore piece in Segovia’s sensitive and varied reading and it is followed by Haydn’s charming minuet which has an elegant contrasting trio. The liner-notes by Segovia’s biographer Graham Wade are as always deeply satisfying. This issue is as self-recommending as the later five.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2007

Andres Segovia was totally unique in being self-taught yet becoming the leading guitarist of his time. Indeed it is his remarkable gifts that today has made the instrument acceptable in the concert hall. Born in Spain in 1893, he had fallen in love with the sound of local guitarists playing folk music, but was ten before he could own his own instrument. From therein he perfected his technique so that by the age of 16 he was ready to give his first public solo recital. With his modest finances international touring was difficult, but by the age of thirty he had stunned South America with his virtuosity and had played through much of Europe. The major problem he faced was a lack of guitar music, and those works that were available were be unknown composers. Though many were to write for him, much of his concert programmes had to be devoted to his arrangements of music for other instruments, often in his very free approach. He loved Bach yet made no pretence of 'authenticity'and would add harmonies and rhythmic variants as pleased him and which he thought were appropriate to the guitar. He equally avoided playing complete works, simply choosing those movements he thought were best suited to the instrument, often leading to fragmented recitals. Yet there was such belief in all that he arranged, with the interpretations having an integrity that avoided any personal glorification. Technically he could sometimes be wayward, yet in these New York recordings made over the period 1952 to 1955, there is admirable accuracy, and I would urge all young guitarists - and their recording engineers - to hear the disc, if only to realise how little left hand movement is audible. The transfers are immaculate, and if you want a Segovia memorial disc, this is the one.

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