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  Sony Classical -
  SS 90381
  Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez etc - John Williams
  Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez, Fantasia para un gentilhombre, Villa-Lobos: Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra

John Williams (guitar)
English Chamber Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, Sir Charles Groves (conductors)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
  Single Layer
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 2

Reviews: 1

Review by sgb August 23, 2003 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez is, perhaps, one of the most famous pieces of classical music ever written. So much is this so that there are many music lovers who own no other classical recording but this one. I count 69 different versions of this work available on CD, several of which are thought to be the best ever recorded. Surely, this one is among them. When the present recording was first released in the early 1970's, I recollect that it received great reviews from several noted critics of the day. Gramophone magazine spoke of its "marvellous point and spontaneity," with Williams' guitar offering the most poetic Adagio on record, going on to say that despite a "hint of rhythmic over-emphasis in the articulation of the Finale... this performance is outstanding above nearly all its competitors." I haven't heard them all, but I can say comfortably that it ranks right up there with MY most favorite featuring Pepe Romero with Marriner conducting the ASMF, and that's saying something!

But then there's the matter of sound, and here the Williams account just isn't or, more correctly, hasn't been my cup of tea. I compared this new SACD to my original LP finding that Sony has done a great job of improving upon the original LP sound in several ways (I'm speaking of the Stereo segment only here). Foremost of these is a substantially wider sound stage, and a significant taming of the LP's etched brightness. Still, there is much of the overly live acoustic of the original recording site, rendering a bleached quality to the brass and violins. I'll admit that some listeners prefer this rather detailed (raw, to my ears) sound to something that may mask some of the texture (while presenting a more realistic perspective).

That isn't all, though. I get the distinct impression that I am listening to three different spatial entities here; almost as if the right and left portions of the ECO were recorded in different rooms, and Williams' guitar was dubbed in at a later date. I am horrified to think how strange this must sound in multi-channel. I get no sense of an orchestra and soloist playing together in a real space here, and that is sad, considering how great the performance is. Recommended with these caveats.

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Works: 3  

Joaquin Rodrigo - Concierto de Aranjuez
Joaquin Rodrigo - Fantasia para un gentilhombre
Heitor Villa-Lobos - Concerto para violão (guitar & small orchestra), W 501