David Starobin is one of the world’s top classical guitarists today. He has won many awards, including the Deems Taylor and Peabody Conservatory’s Distinguished Alumni Award. He was chairman of the guitar department at the Manhattan School where he currently teaches. He founded Bridge Records in 1981 and his many recordings for the label have earned three Grammys and 17 Grammy nominations.
In the note booklet for this reissue, Starobin says he took the advice of a top executive of Bridge Records (his wife) to put together a compilation of 19th century music from the 35 years of recordings he had made, and this is it. The program is the sort that will probably have few duplications in most collections and the nine works here all demonstrate Starobin’s sparkling and note-perfect interpretations of these often virtuoso Romantic period guitar works. These are newly-remastered recordings originally made from 1979 thru 1994. He employed tracks which featured two guest performers – a former student playing second guitar with him on Sor’s Souvenir of Russia, and the former first violinist of I Musici on Paganini’s three-movement Sonata Concertata.
Both replicas of 19th century guitars and modern instruments are heard on the various tracks. The sonics are first rate and the whistling noises prominent on some guitar recordings are not a bit annoying here. Starobin has specialized in recording many of the unique guitar compositions of Mauro Giuliani, and that composer’s Grande Overture here is one of my favorites. It certainly befits its title, with a scintillating exhibition of virtuosity.
– John Sunier