Sharon Isbin / Lawrence Foster

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez

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Sharon Isbin's 1991 EMI release of Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, reissued in 2004 on Virgin Classics, faces direct competition from her rendition of the same work on Warner Classics, also released that year. While this performance with Lawrence Foster and the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne is acceptable for background listening, it is disappointing when compared to Isbin's truly inspired and vivid performance with José Serebrier and the New York Philharmonic. Here she seems fairly subdued and perhaps emotionally reserved, but this may also be due to the variable audio, which distances her and mutes her playing now and then. There are no dropouts of sound in the Warner CD, and Isbin's elegant, nuanced playing is fully captured there. The rest of this disc will appeal to casual listeners, for Rodrigo's charming Fantasia para un gentilhombre and the melancholy Invocación y danza are popular favorites, as are the smoldering Asturias by Isaac Albeniz, and the solemn La Catedral by Agustin Barrios Mangoré. The Warner disc offers instead two major guitar concertos by Villa-Lobos and Ponce, impressively interpreted by Isbin, and guitar specialists will find those works more substantial fare. As stated above, the sound quality is uneven and in need of frequent volume adjustments.

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