The Petar Jankovic Ensemble (PJE) is no stranger to the pages of Guitar International, and has recently released a follow up to their highly acclaimed debut, From Spain to Tango. (Com)Passionate, the sophomore effort by PJE is a masterful recording which features a new dynamic, atmosphere, and more mature context for the group.
After 25 years of playing together and steady touring, Gipsy Kings offers up Savor Flamenco. The group remains one of the top in their genre and includes: Nicholas Reyes [lead vocals and guitar], Tonnino Baliardo [lead guitar), Paul Reyes [guitar], Andre Reyes [guitar and vocals], Paco Baliardo [guitar] and Diego Baliardo [guitar].
Greek guitar soloist and composer Smaro Gregoriadou has recently released her latest CD, Reinventing Guitar II, which is an ambitious follow up to her 2009 recording, Reinventing Guitar.
The Texas Guitar Quartet has recently released their debut CD Red. This recording marks a tremendous accomplishment for the classical guitar as the TxGQ tackles some larger and more challenging works not often heard in recital or on recordings, such as J.S. Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto” (BWV 1048) as well as Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture.”
Composer Eduardo Morales-Caso is a rare artist of exceptional talent who for the past decade has been making a significant contribution to the classical guitar with many attractive works for solo guitar, flute and guitar, and voice and guitar among others. Morales-Caso also has an extensive catalog of compositions which include works for solo piano as well as orchestral and chamber music which has helped bring a great depth to his guitar compositions. There has been a growing demand for his music since his piece “El Jardin de Lindaraja” won first prize in the XIV Andres Segovia international composition competition for classical guitar in 2003.
Petar Jankovic has had a very successful career as a solo classical guitarist, though in recent years he has been pushing the boundaries of what the guitar can in an ensemble setting. The resulting group, the Petar Jankovic Ensemble, is a string quartet led by the talented guitarist. Over the years, there have been many successful guitar duos, trios, quartets, and others; but rarely does this music capture and combine the essence of the classical guitar with the European tradition of the string quartet. The PJE has to be one of the best, and most convincing, chamber ensembles that feature a guitar in recent years.
When I was first turned on to South African guitarist Derek Gripper, to be honest I didn’t know what to expect. Was the music going to be African in nature, or featured a more American background? I had read that Gripper studied in India, so was his music going to follow the Raga and Indian classical music tradition? He has acknowledged the influence of Brazilian composers and performers such as Villa-Lobos and Egberto Gismonti, and so would these influences come out in Gripper’s writing? The answer to all of these questions, as I was to find out, was yes.
Director and co-producer Steven Spielberg was so moved by War Horse’s timeless anti-war story that he expounded, “From the moment I read [Michael] Morpurgo’s novel, War Horse, I knew this was a film I wanted DreamWorks® to make. Its heart and its message provide a story that can be felt in every country.”
Arizona classical guitarist Brad Richter just released American Landscapes a week or two ago, and it is already one of my favorite collections of mood setting songs. These pieces, which are mostly meditations on outdoor landscapes that speak to Brad, are perfect for that; they are incredibly detailed and meticulous in their composition and adventurous in their use of new and interesting techniques, so seriously music-minded people have a lot to chew on and digest. If heard just in passing by the casual music fan, however, they just sound incredibly pleasing to the ear.
We now give you my long, overdue review of Middle Tennessee State University’s Tennessee Guitar Festival 2011, hosted by Dr. William Yelverton on June 1st-4th, 2011. I know these things are supposed to come out right after the event happens, so my apologies for that. The only excuse I have is that I’ve been on two continents, 13 different states (11 U.S. and two Brazilian), and have traveled almost the distance of the circumference of our planet since then. I won’t apologize for that, though. I had a blast!