This performance of Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez is probably very different from what the composer ever envisaged or heard. He is on record as saying the guitar does not have great power. Here, through the combination of close-miking and committed performance, the guitar has power aplenty, but this is not just a display of brawn. In fact, under Xuefei Yang’s command, the lyrical second movement of the concerto has rarely sounded so intensely emotional and expressive. It is a phenomenal performance, and Yang’s sensitivity is matched by the playing of the Orquestre Simfonica and a warm, responsive recording timbre.
Here too is a brand-new concerto for guitar and orchestra, commissioned by Yang. It is by Stephen Goss, entitled The Albeniz Concerto and drawn from Albeniz’s piano works. It is, on first hearing, a very appealing work, which will probably become a concert-hall staple for this fine Chinese guitarist.
Yang herself is no slouch at such arrangements, and the recital includes her own very well executed transcriptions for solo guitar of several Albeniz piano works. Of interest to Australian listeners will be that the guitar she has chosen for the two concertos is a beautifully sonorous instrument made by Greg Smallman and Sons of Australia.
A very different sounding Spanish instrument is used for the Albeniz and for the final solo piece, Invocacion y danza by Rodrigo, which Yang first performed many years ago when aged just 14, in front of its composer.