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REBAY: Sonatas for Violin & Guitar; Sonata for Viola & Guitar – Pedro Mateo González, guitar/ José Manuel Álvarez, violin/ Joaquín Riquelme, viola – Eudora

REBAY: Sonatas for Violin and Guitar; Sonata for Viola and Guitar – Pedro Mateo González, guitar/ José Manuel Álvarez, violin/ Joaquín Riquelme, viola – Eudora multichannel SACD EUD-SACD-1501, 66:22 (10/2/15) *** 1/2:

This new release from Eudora presents three first recordings, offering the opportunity to hear one of the most exciting rediscoveries in guitar music: the Austrian composer Ferdinand Rebay (1880-1953). Rebay’s style is highly sophisticated, indebted to a tradition that goes back to Schubert, Brahms and Wagner, and he stands out for having established his own unique style, melding folk music and the Austro-German compositional tradition to create works of great lyricism. Reba composed about 400 works, and after years of not appearing very frequently in the concert hall, his compositions are getting a fresh look and some new performances.

This lovely SACD disc from Eudora features three compositions that are falling on this reviewer’s ears without ever previously hearing Rebay’s music.

First is the Sonata in E Minor for Violin and Guitar. Soloists on this work, and the other two artists are Jose Alvarez, violin, Joaquin Riquelme, viola, and Pedro Mateo Gonzales, guitar. This sonata was written in 1942. It has a bit of a gypsy flair to it. Rebay really doesn’t sound like anyone else from the period. His unique sound and musicality are quite captivating to my ear, and this sonata can withstand multiple hearings to take it all in.

The next selection, the Sonata in c minor for Violin and Guitar was also written in 1942. The e minor Sonata is quite romantic, but this c minor opens with a march, and some hear echoes of Mahler.

The final work is the Sonata in d minor for Viola and Guitar. These are not two instruments you usually hear together, but Rebay certainly makes the most of the combination. To me, the d minor is the most interesting, and there are compositional flourishes that make this music worth listening to.

The recording is fine, but I think the microphones are a bit distant for my taste. Surrounds are used for ambiance, but the position of the soloists up front are a bit fuzzy. On the other hand, the recording has no trouble capturing the ‘sound’ of the violin, viola, and guitar. Put another way, the frequency response is fine, but the holographic positioning I look for is not there.

Rebay is a fine, but certainly lesser-known composer. This disc makes a fine introduction to his work, and it’s worth a place in any collection. All the selections are being heard on disc for the first time, another reason to get this recording and enjoy Rebay’s musical offerings.

—Mel Martin

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