It’s been a few months since my last review of a recording and I have a cracking little one you today, folks – a disc called Homenaje by guitarist-composer R.C. Kohl.
This latest recording from R.C. Kohl is a collection of 20 compositions and arrangements by the relatively little-known Mexican guitarist Octaviano Yañez (1865 – 1927?), who hailed from the city of Orizaba in the State of Veracruz, Mexico. According to the liner notes Yañez was one of the very first ever guitarists to be recorded, apparently having done so for Edison and Victor recording companies during the turn of the 20th century.
And it certainly sounds as if he could write a half-decent tune, and some possibly with potential didactic intentions. The disc kicks off with a really nice couple of study-like preludes (Preludio en mi menor and Preludio en la menor). They’re lovely short little pieces that whet your appetite for Yañez’s musical style, I was quite disappointed that the first prelude was so short in fact (clocking in at only 45 seconds!). Things develop out from there on with some equally lovely, quite delicate and really charming pieces. Último Amor was a particular favourite of mine, with a feel slightly reminiscent of Tarrega, perhaps Sor.
I found the second half of the disc most interesting, with the penultimate track El Encanto de un Vals, a Yañez arrangement of a piece by Viennese composer Oscar Strauss (born just five years later than Yañez). Again a really lovely little piece that, like most of this recording, certainly would not be out of place at a house or salon concert. And in terms of R.C. Kohl’s playing this piece is my favourite – a gorgeous rounded tone, with some nice coloured touches, and a delicately sensitive rubato.
Simply a lovely guitar recording, played with an understated musicality, fine tonal quality and a real appreciation of the composer and his style. Definitely recommended.
For those of you who may not be aware of R.C. Kohl, he is a classical guitarist and composer and is a professor on the Music Faculty of the the Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico. Kohl studied initially at the University of California at Santa Cruz, followed then by the University of Hawaii at Manoa, before moving to the Universidad Veracruzana, in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. He has been awarded scholarships and grants in music performance and research from Mexico’s Secretaría de Educación Pública, the East-West Center of Honolulu (EWC) and the Instituto Veracruzano de Cultura (IVEC) (a grant from which enabled this latest recording). He’s also been a member of many prestigious research institutes and universities. Not too shabby!
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Ooh and yes, before I forget, you can check out my 2012 review of some earlier R.C. Kohl recordings HERE.