Sharon Isbin / Howard Griffiths / Zürcher Kammerorchester

Sharon Isbin plays Baroque Favorites for Guitar

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AllMusic Review by

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. Isbin worked with Bach pianist Rosalyn Tureck, learning about Baroque ornamentation and devising ways to transfer keyboard practices idiomatically to the guitar. Tureck did one transcription here (of the Adagio from Bach's Keyboard Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056); others were done by Isbin and her student Mats Bergstrom. They are highly effective, restrained, unsentimental renderings that display Bach's contrapuntal lines with maximum clarity. For two Vivaldi concertos that included lute parts, Isbin turns to arrangements by Catalan guitarist Emilio Pujol; they deliver real melodic lushness while allowing Isbin room to apply ornamentation lessons learned. The accompaniment by the Zürcher Kammerorchester hangs discreetly in the background like a well-trained butler. Is Sharon Isbin a has-been? Not from the evidence of this fine disc -- she seems instead to be breaking new ground as a performer.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Lute (Chamber) Concerto, for lute (or guitar), 2 violins & continuo in D major, RV 93
1
3:46
2
5:43
3
2:17
Concerto in A minor BWV1041 / in G minor BWV1058
4
4:03
5
5:47
6
3:55
7
7:57
Guitar Concerto, for guitar, strings & continuo in A major (arranged from Trio Sonata in C major, RV 82)
8
3:45
9
4:22
10
2:15
Concerto for harpsichord, strings & continuo No. 5 in F minor, BWV 1056
11
2:56
12
2:16
Cantata No. 147, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben," BWV 147 (BC A174)
13
2:56
blue highlight denotes track pick