Sharon Isbin, guitar – Journey to the New World – (with Joan Baez and Mark O’Connor) Sony Classical

by | Jun 16, 2009 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Sharon Isbin, guitar – Journey to the New World – (with Joan Baez and Mark O’Connor) Sony Classical 88697-45456-2 *****:

Sharon Isbin is one of today’s pre-eminent guitarists. She was the first classical guitarist to receive a Grammy in 28 years (for her Dreams of a World). She asked contemporary English composer John Duarte to write a piece for solo guitar honoring folksinger Joan Baez.  When Joan heard Isbin performing the work, she volunteered to sing on her next recording, which this is. Baez is heard on two folksongs before and following the word premiere recording of Duarte’s Joan Baez Suite: the traditional "Wayfaring Stranger" and Go ‘Way from my Window" by John Jacob Niles. Her voice is not what it once was, but these tracks nicely bookend the guitar suite.

The Mark O’Connor-composed and performed suite, Strings & Threads, traces the journey of his Irish ancestors across the country to the West using various folk songs. He mentions how he tried to show how folk music styles hundreds of years apart are interconnected. When Sharon Isbin heard O’Connor playing his suite for solo guitar she asked him if he would re-do it as a duo for guitar and fiddle, and this is the result. The Texas Dancehall Blues and Swing near the end of the suite really…well…swing.

The sounds of both instruments are beautifully captured on the recording, and the cardboard jewel-box alternative packaging is well-designed and filled with interest notes and photos of the glamourous Isbin. I can imagine this CD has very wide appeal, and not just among classical collectors.

TrackList: Four Renaissance Lute Works, Two English Folksongs, YORK: Andecy, ANON.: Wayfaring Stranger, DUARTE: Joan Baez Suite, NILTES: Go ‘Way from my Window, MARK O’CONNOR: Strings & Threads Suite

– John Sunier

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