Top positive review
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World class - thoroughly delightful
on 14 February 2012
The guitarist Xuefei Yang attended London's illustrious Royal Academy of Music for her post graduate studies. During that period she was the winner of the Ivor Mairants Guitar Award, administered by the Worshipful Company of Musicians (one of the City of London's important guilds). She has an impeccable technique and superb musicianship. This is her fourth major label release with EMI and is simply stunning.
Running at over 77 minutes duration, the helpful sequencing of the tracks is much like a live concert performance, with solo pieces puctuating the ensemble works. Joined by the Elias String Quartet for three concertos, the programme is very satisfying. The solo recordings were made in Suffolk, and the concertos undertaken at Liverpool Philharmonic's recently refurbished rehearsal and performance space The Friary in West Everton - recipient of many favourable comments on its fine acoustics and atmosphere.
The three concertos were all transcribed by Xuefei Yang and she has done a top job. The disc opens with Concerto in D minor (BWV 1052) taken from the harpsichord version. Another transcription of this for the Naxos label was recorded by Gerald Garcia with the Camerata Cassovia some 20 years ago. Fei has shaved around a minute off each of the first two movements and stretched out the third movement by about half a minute. Comparing the two I would say Fei's new recording for EMI has the edge for me, with its strong dynamics and crisp equalisation. Her Greg Smallman guitar really works well in this ensemble setting. I didn't have other recordings of the other main pieces, but loved them straight away.
My personal highlight on first listening was the Presto fourth movement within the Sonata in G minor (BWV 1001 transcribed in A minor). Wow, this certainly is presto, but always with feeling and never robotic. Bravo!