I first saw Liona Boyd in the late '70s, somewhat improbably (but possibly because they were both Canadians) opening for Gordon Lightfoot. She played popular pieces like "Asturias", and brought the house down — no mean feat, considering the audience.
At that time I bought several of her LPs, which (in the original form at least) don't seem to have made it to CD. But when she moved to the (presumably) greener pastures of Easy Listening, I lost interest.
So I bought this CD to get some of the best tracks from those early albums. Since Amazon, in its customary fashion, doesn't bother to specify the contents, I give the full track-listing below:
01) Martini: Plaisir d'amour/Myers: Cavatina
02) Anon: What Child Is This?
03) Lecuona: Malagueña
04) Eduardo Sainz de la Maza: Campanas del alba
05) Albéniz: Asturias
06) Vicenzo Galilei: Saltarello
07) Mudarra: Fantasia
08) Bach: Bourrée from Lute Suite Nº 1, BWV 996/Prelude, BWV 999
09) Sagreras: El Colibri
10) Anon: Romance de amor
11) Bach: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, BWV 147
12) Satie: Gymnopédie Nº1
13) Tárrega: Recuerdos de la Alhambra
14) Vivaldi: Lute Concerto, RV 93: Largo
15) Payet: Lejanía
16) Liona Boyd: Cantarell
THE BEST of the CLASSICAL STUFF
Miss Boyd was a pupil of Alexandre Lagoya
, and it shows.
She's at her best in Romantic pieces, such as "Asturias", which she plays with tremendous punch and spot-on timing.
The arrangement of "La Malagueña" brings to mind that of Sabicas
(although there are many differences), and receives a strong performance.
"Campanas del alba", a tremolo piece, is one of those I bought the album for. It's just as beautiful as the overworked "Recuerdos" and comparatively little-known. Eduardo S. de la M. is, in my opinion, possibly the most underrated guitar composer
out there. Miss Boyd's performance is first rate.
"El Colibri" (The Hummingbird) is a virtuoso showpiece, and in Miss Boyd's hands is the tour de force it should be, making John Williams
sound like a tortoise in comparison.
The Gymnopédie is tranquil and beautiful, and I haven't heard any other guitarist play it except Christopher Parkening
, who plays all three. This track really showcases her superb tone.
"Lejanía", by Carlos Payet (or Payes — no one seems to know for sure, although it says Payet on the sheet music) is a very beautiful work featuring a melody over accompanying arpeggios, and it's another of the pieces I bought the album for. Few other performers seem to play this, either*.
And finally "Cantarelle", another arpeggio piece, is the performer's own composition, and very pretty.
*It's also one of the few pieces that require the bass string to be retuned to F, the only other I'm aware of being Dusan Bogdanovich's Mysterious Habitats
THE OTHER CLASSICAL STUFF
The following receive performances that are competent, but not particularly distinguished.
"Romance" and "Recuerdos" have been recorded so many times that it would be somewhat unrealistic to expect anything startling.
The "Saltarello" is well known under several different names, and was used (among others) by Respighi for his suite of Ancient Airs and Dances
The Fantasia is the famous one "which imitates the harp in the manner of Ludovico". I prefer Alirio Díaz's version
, which has much more élan.
It isn't really possible to do "Jesu" justice on the guitar; and the gooey orchestral noises, while making the counterpoint more possible technically, don't really contribute much otherwise.
The Largo from the Lute Concerto is nice, but I prefer Julian Bream
, who, in addition, gives me the whole thing.
THE EASY-LISTENING STUFF
The Bach selection presents two of his best-known pieces munged together in a manner that does nothing for either of them.
Likewise "Plaisir d'amour", which receives a rather unimaginative tremolo treatment, book-ending Stanley Myers's well-known Theme from The Deer Hunter
"What Child Is This?" is the title of a Christmas carol written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865, and set to the music of "Greensleeves". Since no one sings here, it seems strange to use that title for a piece 300 years older. The arrangement provides little more than the original for lute and some fairly uninteresting variations, with orchestral noises.
This album is clearly designed to set forth the artist's most popular pieces, and in that respect it probably, on balance, does a good job. The problem comes because it must compromise between two different sets of tastes.
If you have no problems with the Easy Listening material, though (and especially if you don't already have other versions of the pieces), you should probably add a star to my rating.
The total time is 52'43".