"Angels' Glory"; Kathleen Battle and Christopher Parkening; Sony Classical
When Christopher Parkening and soprano Kathleen Battle recorded a disc several years ago, it was hugely successful, and fTC follow-up was inevitable. This collection of Christmas songs, with a strong infusion of American spirituals, is a logical second offering and has much to recommend it. Throughout, Parkening provides a relaxed, laid-back accompaniment to the tempestuous Battle and indeed only takes one lengthy solo during the entire course of the disc. Near the end, some of the spirituals take on a certain sameness, as if the artists were just trying to fill space, but then comes the concluding piece, a fine rendition of "Silent Night" that in itself is worth the price of the disc. This recording was made in Sony's high-definition 20-bit sound, which claims to capture every musical nuance.
"Pure Barrueco"; Manuel Barrueco; EMI Angel
Baltimore's own Manuel Barrueco is considered by many to be the finest classical guitarist in the world today, and this compilation of works, most of which were recorded on previous discs, is a glorious example of the ever-expanding range of his talents. There is Bach, Mozart and several works by great Spanish romantics like Albeniz, Turina and Granados. That would be enough to satisfy most critics, but also included are several selections from Barrueco's recent works celebrating the music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, plus a couple more from his disc with contemporary composers Keith Jarrett and Paul Simon. Because the works were taken from so many sessions, the engineering at times is a bit uneven, but that's what volume knobs are for.
"Music of Torroba"; David Russell; Telarc
Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982) was the first symphonic composer to collaborate with Andres Segovia, and he eventually created nearly 100 guitar pieces, most of which reflect the glories of his native Spain. There could be no finer artist to demonstrate them than Russell, the melodic craftsman who seems to have given great thought to each and every note of each and every tune. Russell's first disc with Telarc on the works of Agustin Barrios Mangore has drawn raves, and this one deserves equal praise. Russell's star is rising in the musical world, and what's still shocking is that this wonderful guitarist is just now settling in with a major recording company.
Giuliani, Complete Guitar Concertos; Pepe Romero, guitarist, with Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville Marriner conducting; Philips Classics
This is not a new recording, but a remastered version of works performed by Pepe Romero and his late father, Celedonio, some 20 years ago. However, this tribute to Mario Giuliani (1781-1829), one of the guitar's most prolific composers, is important because of its completeness and because of Romero's attention to detail at that time of his career. The Philips people boast that they have crammed two hours and 38 minutes of music onto the disc, which no doubt will please those of the Giuliani school.
Pub Date: 12/22/96