Manuel Barrueco became entranced by the guitar when he was an 8-year-old in Santiago de Cuba. Part of what entranced him was the music of Francisco Tárrega. Tárrega was a 19th-century Spanish composer and guitarist who did much to bring classical guitar to the recital stage. By the time he was 11, Barrueco was performing Tárrega’s Danza Mora, Capricho Árabe, and Recuerdos de la Alhambra. But he had never recorded the pieces.
Now the Peabody faculty member has, producing Tárrega! on his own label, Tonar Music. The recording, the fifth in Tonar’s Manuel Barrueco Collection, is a master class in the Spaniard’s music. It includes his best-known compositions, plus transcriptions of other composers’ works that he admired. Among the latter are compositions by Tárrega’s contemporary Joaquín Malats; music from zarzuelas, a sort of Spanish comedic musical theater, by Federico Chueca, Joaquín Valverde, and Rafael Gómez Calleja; and Romantic works by Mendelssohn and Schumann. Schumann’s Träumerei turns out to be as achingly beautiful on the guitar as it is on the piano.
From first note to last, Tárrega! displays Barrueco’s signature virtues as a musician—technical mastery that brings out every color and timbre that the guitar has to offer; the dexterity to range across a variety of styles; and a deep knowledge of the music that imparts meaning to every passage. The disc was recorded in Barrueco’s home studio, which serves double duty as his wine cellar. Tonar is a family business. The recording engineer and producer was Barrueco’s wife, Asgerdur Sigurdardottir, and his daughter, Anna Barrueco Wong, edited the text that accompanies the recording.
PEABODY faculty artist Jay Clayton’s career as a singer has been all over the place. That’s meant in the best way. She has been part of the free jazz movement, performed avant-garde compositions by Steve Reich and John Cage, and recorded jazz and pop standards. Her most recent release on Sunny Side Records, In and Out of Love, fits the last category. Backed by guitarist Jack Wilkins and bassist Jay Anderson, Clayton handles the ballad “Never Let Me Go,” the swing of “I Hear a Rhapsody,” and the scat-sung “Freedom Jazz Dance” with equal aplomb.
MARINA Piccinini, who heads the flute program at Peabody, recently teamed with the Brasil Guitar Duo to record all five flute sonatas by J.S. Bach. The logically titled Bach Flute Sonatas, on the English label Avie, demonstrates not only Piccinini’s virtuosity but the sparkling results obtained by using guitar instead of the standard piano or harpsichord accompaniment.