Album Review: Andrew Blanch – Spanish Guitar Music

First up – Happy New Year all! Here we are in 2016! Hope you all had enjoyable holidays.

I had a particularly enjoyable holiday listening to the inaugural recording of up-and-coming Aussie guitarist, Andrew Blanch (those of you who’ve followed the blog for a while may recall I did an interview with Andrew back in November 2014 – head here to check it out: https://classicalguitarnstuff.com/2014/11/17/interview-with-ascendant-aussie-classical-guitarist-andrew-blanch/)

This first outing on CD for Andrew is a cracking one – a very high quality recording both in terms of playing and the production values throughout the entire recording (little surprise there given that the producer is none other than seminal Australian guitarist Timothy Kain). On first listen it would be fair to say that I really was bowled over by both the consistent depth and quality of Andrew’s tone production. I was equally bowled over by the sensitivity of the recording to allow that to shine through. Really fantastic stuff.

andrew-blanch-black-and-white

And this quality of tonal production and spot-on musicality comes really to the fore for me on track 5 – Capricho No. 18 from Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s 24 Caprichos de Goya for Guitar Op. 195 (No. 18 El sueno de la razon produce monstruos).  Beautifully lyrical playing supported by lush upper register playing under pinned by seriously fat, rich, round basses. Mmmmm……

Capricho No. 18 is joined by Caprichos 20 and 16 rounding out the Castelnuovo-Tedesco contributions to this recording.

The album opens with a fantastic rendition of de Falla’s The Miller’s Dance from El sombrero de tres picos – this piece is actually one of the highlights of the recording for me. A great choice as an album opener, setting the tone both in terms of musical style and Andrew’s awesome playing, pulsating with suppressed Spanish machismo. This is followed up with the gently lulling The Fisherman’s Story and Song of the Will-o’-the Whisp, both from de Falla’s El amor brujo.

The recording also features some classics of the repertoire, such as Tarrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra, Albeniz’s Sevilla and Malaguena and Turina’s Fandanguillo. All of which Andrew plays with deft aplomb as if he’s lived and breathed these pieces for years. The Malaguena and Sevilla deserve a special mention actually.

The Malaguena is artfully presented – a lyrical melody, and strong sense of direction without being over the top. Have a look and  listen for yourself…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRNNhBCwEzg

As for the Sevilla, for a piece that can sometimes feel a little sluggardly in lesser hands this is a particularly delicately delivered offering, revealing some of the delightful prettiness of this piece, especially in the upper register. It made me dream up visions of some beautiful Spanish garden, or plaza, shimmering in the summer heat. Pass me the sangria!

Andrew also present us with some Llobet (including a lively Scherzo-Vals and all three of the Three Catalan Folksongs – Canco del lladre is particularly beautifully played) and Scarlatti (Sonata in G K.146 and Sonata in Am K.175), before rounding out the recording with Tarrega’s delightful Carnival of Venice.

If you’re looking for some beautifully rich imaginings of some well-known (and slightly lesser known) Spanish pieces presented wonderfully by the new wave of contemporary classical guitarists then you’d do well to pick up this recording by Andrew Blanch.

If you want to get your mitts on a copy of Andrew’s recording (and I highly recommend you do) in either digital or CD format (the CD packaging and liner notes are particularly nice to by the way)  head over to his Bandcamp page https://andrewblanch.bandcamp.com/album/spanish-guitar-music

And to keep up to date with all of Andrew’s goings on be sure to check out his website: http://www.andrewblanch.com

 

 

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