GIULIANI, CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO & VILLA-LOBOS: Guitar Concertos – Narciso Yepes, g./ London Sym. Orch./ English Ch. Orch./ Luis Antonio García Navarro – PentaTone

GIULIANI, CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO & VILLA-LOBOS: Guitar Concertos – Narciso Yepes, g./ London Sym. Orch./ English Ch. Orch./ Luis Antonio García Navarro – orig. quadrophonic recordings from 1977, remastered in 2014 – Pentatone SACD PTC 5186-202, 61:49 (4/14/15) ****:

Beautifully restored and played four-channel guitar concertos by Yepes and the London Symphony.

What a treat this disc is! Three lovely guitar concertos played by Narciso Yepes and The London Symphony Orchestra.

The history of the recordings is interesting. Originally produced during the short quadraphonic boom in the early 1970s by DGG, there were many recordings done for open reel tape deck owners and some who braved the rather awful and unreliable quadraphonic vinyl discs. Later the tapes were just stored, without multichannel releases. In the present day, Pentatone has made a project of restoring the tapes, where possible finding some of the original engineers and producers to help restore them, then transferring them to DSD and SACD.

The results are excellent. Even with my ear to the tweeters I don’t hear any tape hiss, yet the high frequencies of the strings and plucked guitar strings are very clean and bright. It’s a phenomenal restoration.

Guitarist Narciso Yepes was one of the finest classical guitarists of our century. He died in 1997, after a formidable career both as a performer and a scholar researching the manuscripts of 16th and 17th century to discover long-forgotten music for guitar and lute.

The disc contains three lovingly played and performed guitar concertos, including Giulani’s Guitar Concerto No. 1 in A, Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Guitar Concerto No. 1 in D, and Villa-Lobos’ Concert for Guitar and Small Orchestra. To hear these older recordings in a very contemporary sounding package is really a thrill. Instruments are nicely placed up front, while the rear channels contain the ambiance of Henry Wood Hall in London. I’ve heard concerts there, and DGG and the Pentatone restorers got the sound just right.

The London Symphony has never sounded better, and Yepes is in fine form. Most will remember his Rodrigo performances, which are also available as part of this same Pentatone series. This recording, which is part of a quad restoration series form Pentatone, is highly desirable both for the music and the sound. Highly recommended!

—Mel Martin

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