The Beijing-born guitarist Xuefei Yang has recorded her first album of baroque music, an all-Bach programme anchored by three concertos newly arranged for guitar and string quartet. Bach Concertos is an exciting, innovative album in which she has transcribed for the guitar some of Bach’s familiar violin concertos and other works, hoping to establish these new arrangements as noteworthy repertoire for the guitar and to expand the concerto repertoire for that instrument. Xuefei complements the concertante repertoire with solo guitar arrangements of the Violin Sonata No. 1 BWV 1001, the Prelude in C Major from the Well-Tempered Clavier BWV 846 and the Air on a G string from the Orchestral Suite in D major BWV 1068.
The versatility of the suite form proved well suited to Johann Sebastian Bach in his instrumental works, and the English Suites are no exception. These are distinct from Bach’s other suites with their quasi-improvisatory opening Preludes, and further movements encompassing a wide range of moods and styles from lively dances to the pensive intensity of the slow Sarabandes. The Montenegrin Guitar Duo’s fresh and historically informed performances of these works have been acclaimed as “simply ravishing” (American Record Guide). The Montenegrin Guitar Duo is frequently invited to venues such as the Philharmonia Hall in Saint Petersburg, Manuel de Falla Hall in Madrid, and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. International festivals regularly engage the duo to give recitals, deliver lectures and masterclasses, and adjudicate major competitions. In 2013 their debut album was released by the Montenegrin Music Centre, featuring works by Domeniconi, Piazzolla and Bogdanovic. The first of their two volumes of Bach’s English Suites was released in 2015 and received excellent reviews.
The Australian guitarist John Williams has long been universally recognized as a true master , to quote the Guardian. The centrepiece of Sony s new reissue of his Bach recordings is formed by the Suites for solo lute. Also contained on these 4 CDs are Williams s inspired transcriptions of the E major Violin Concerto (with the English Chamber Orchestra), preludes and fugues, chorales and movements from various suites. John Williams is a superb technician, wrote MusicWeb International, and justifiably deserves the accolades heaped on him during his long career. His rendition of these works is most authoritative and executed with admirable fluidity.
Over the last 20 years, the Naxos label has done a great deal to obtain its reputation as one of the leading classical guitar labels. Its very first guitarist was Gerald Garcia, who was not slow to show the way forward by extending the rather limited guitar repertoire by making arrangements of pieces originally written for other instruments. This is what he has done here, too: None of the music on this disc was written for guitar, it is all arranged by Garcia himself, who plays a modern guitar and definitely not a baroque instrument.
The "Baroque Favorites for Guitar" title of this CD implies that it might be a greatest-hits compilation or a collection of tunes aimed at newcomers to classical music, and the presence of the not-really-Albinoni Adagio among the contents reinforces this impression. In fact, it is nothing of the sort. It is the product of a long study on Isbin's part (of course, this isn't the kind of detail the marketing department is looking for!), study that has resulted in quite distinctive music making. The album includes mostly transcribed concertos, with a few solo works.
Tilman Hoppstock is one of Germany’s most famous guitar players and the work of Bach stands in his focus for a long time: His research of over 30 years culminated in the publication of two book titles and his musicological edition is considered today a standard work by nearly all guitarists who occupy themselves with Bach. In 2013 he earned the doctor’s degree for his research on Bach. The Six Suites for solo cello are nowadays performed on a wide range of instruments and Tilman Hoppstock has adapted the Suites Nos. 1, 2 and 5 for his instrument the guitar. His large knowledge of the contrapunctal technique of Bach combined with his stupendous virtuosity on the guitar resulted in a recording of great musicality and sensibility. © Christophorus
Although J.S. Bach's orchestral music has been transcribed for guitar ensemble before, notably selected Brandenburg Concertos by the De Falla Trio and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, this is the first recording of the four suites for orchestra that I have heard in a setting of this type; it is not a source of material that readily springs to mind for such treatment and certainly purists would decry such practices.