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LLOBET: Guitar Works (Complete)

Naxos 8.557351

   Classical Guitar, April 2005

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Colin Cooper
Classical Guitar, April 2005

In many ways this is the Llobet recording we have been waiting for. Lorenzo Micheli combines the instincts of a scholar with a fluid expressivity that makes him incapable of playing a dull or boring note. Among many other things, he can rise to heights of virtuosity, as in the Variations on a theme by Sor (short though the variations are), cope with the bariolage in the extraordinary Respuesta (Impromptu), and ravish the ear with an exquisitely phrased Lo fill del rey. Not since the penetrating recordings of the late Leif Christensen have I felt myself to be in the presence of a guitarist who understands every facet of Llobet's art.

The 5 Preludes are particularly welcome, if onlly because the 13 Catalan Folksongs have become common property. One of them, to Maria Luisa Anido, is only 22 seconds long. That to Rosita Lloret is more than twice as long, but still only 48 seconds. Good music need not always very long.

Among the composers who influenced Llobet were Richard Strauss, Debussy, Chopin, which shouldn't surprise anyone, and Wagner, which might. Llobet was attracted to the harmonic freedom and the colourful impressionism of these composers, which of course does not mean that his music was as good as theirs. There are, however, times when you might prefer to listen to a Llobet prelude lasting 22 seconds than a Wagner opera lasting four hours.

The CD is a glowing tribute to a fine composer for the guitar, though somewhat out of fashion at the moment. It should do something to revive interest. How can anyone resist music played like this?

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