Zuill Bailey / David Leisner


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The combination of guitar and cello may seem an odd one, but most of the music involved was arranged for various instrumental combinations throughout the 19th century, and soon the novelty wears off. This is partly due to the intelligent arrangements by guitarist David Leisner, who looked toward simple, direct musical solutions instead of virtuoso display. The work that gives the album its title, Schubert's Sonata in A minor for arpeggione and piano, D. 821, is always arranged, there being few specimens of the arpeggione in existence. This was a unique hybrid of cello and guitar, so Schubert's profoundly melodic sonata transfers naturally to the pair of instruments. Of the many attractions to this little album, the warmly songful playing of cellist Zuill Bailey in this work is the most direct. Sample the finale, track 3. For the balance of the program, Leisner puts the focus on Bailey while providing beautifully understated lines for himself. This results in pleasantly transparent, new versions of Falla's Siete Canciones Populares Españolas, and in a rather minimalist and precisely executed reading of Leisner's own Twilight Streams, which receives its premiere here. The program ends with popular encore-type works, not one of which suffers from being given to cello and guitar. This recording has found substantial commercial success despite being released on a small label from Cleveland's east side, and the reason is simple: it contains beautiful playing, nicely recorded.

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