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Viaje En Espana / Martha Masters

Masters,Martha
Release Date: 08/18/2009 
Label:  Gsp Recordings   Catalog #: 1034  
Composer:  Raoul LapparaRaoul LaparraAndrés SegoviaJoaquin Malats,   ... 
Performer:  Martha Masters
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Played with conviction and panache.

As with her previous recording Viaggio in Italia - also reviewed in this forum - Martha Master’s latest offering has a thematic focus, but with a twist.

The liner-notes were written by Italian guitarist/composer Angelo Gilardino who was Artistic Director of the Andrés Segovia Foundation of Linares, Spain from 1997 to 2005. Gilardino explains that regardless of the guitar’s limited repertory, original music written for it, and dedicated to Segovia during the decades between the two World Wars, was treated selectively by the Maestro. He acted as a
Read more discriminating filter, electing to play those compositions the character and colours of which suited his tone and phrasing. Despite intrinsic qualities, other pieces written for him were simply ignored and never found his favour.

In 2001, fourteen years after Segovia’s death, Gilardino was entrusted with ‘breaking of the seals of silence’ on these neglected manuscripts from the Segovia collection. It is from these manuscripts that Martha Masters has chosen music for the current recording. She also includes a couple of more familiar items, one from the pen of the Maestro himself.

For aficionados of the guitar, well-played renditions of the Spanish masters will never lose their magic. It is however refreshing to hear original compositions by composers such as Arregui, Pahissa and Laparra, hitherto neglected. Laparra is the odd man out in this collection, although given his circumstances he could be considered more Spanish than French. General information on the composers and their music can be found at the end of this review.

Martha Masters needs no introduction to those familiar with the classical guitar. She began studying guitar at the age of six with Jim McCutcheon. She then studied with composer/teacher Brian Head and later with Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Conservatory gaining a Bachelor and Masters Degree in Music. This was later supplemented with a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Southern California. She currently heads a guitar programme at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The review disc is her seventh commercial recording.

From a review of guitar recordings made over the past several decades one thing becomes very evident: as the classical guitar has become more institutionalized and the focus of academia, the style of playing had generally become more clone-like. Essentially an instrument of folk origins, its earlier exponents were their own teachers and those taught by fathers, relatives and friends. One has only to listen to past autodidacts such as Julian Bream, Narciso Yepes and Segovia (?) to witness a wide divergence of styles, easily distinguishable one from another. The great Jose Luis Gonzalez Julia (1932-1989) was taught by his father, Salvador Garcia, Regino Sainz de La Maza, Balaguer and later Segovia. When Gonzalez went to Australia in 1962 to teach, no university in that country offered curriculum for study of the classical guitar. The origins of his mastery lie deep in the traditions of Valencia and the folk roots of the instrument; this is highly evident in his unique, always identifiable style.

One of the guitarists from the younger generation who appears to have escaped academic-cloning is Martha Masters. She has reaped the benefits of academia but managed to imbue her playing with an individual style. Immediately apparent on this recording is a big, full, round sound; this is the same sound we heard on her earlier recording, Viaggio in Italia. One must recognize the embellishments available through modern recording and editing techniques, but this may be discounted to the extent that it is available to all recording artists and still the sound of this disc is exceptional. The quality of the instrument also plays a significant role in the final result. On her previous recording Masters played a Spanish instrument by Tezanos-Perez and has since used a Simon Marty guitar in concert. Although not mentioned in the liner-notes, the instrument used in this recording has been kindly identified by Martha Masters as from the hands of Herman Hauser III. The design of this instrument departs quite significantly from his standard; it is very powerful with a bold, mellow and balanced sound.

At social gatherings where we are strangers, any familiar face is welcomed. There are ‘familiar faces’ in this recording so those well-played pieces by Segovia and Malats are quickly embraced. However Masters has the ability to make the unfamiliar quickly familiar and one wonders why Segovia ignored music of this calibre. The same question could be asked of his attitude toward the music of Barrios which he also never recorded. Segovia’s seeming indifference even extended to his own compositions: of the more than thirty pieces he wrote, the Maestro only ever recorded two, and most remained unpublished at the time of his death.

Those who listen to this recording will come to their own conclusions. From where I am listening, Martha Masters plays with conviction and panache. Her sound and style are memorable.

-- Zane Turner, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Brujerias by Raoul Laparra
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
2.
En Aragon by Raoul Laparra
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
3.
Pueblo Castellano by Raoul Laparra
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
4.
Estudio sin luz by Andrés Segovia
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 
5.
Serenata española for Piano in F major by Joaquin Malats
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Spain 
6.
Piezas líricas (5) for Guitar by Vicente Arregui
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
7.
Errimina by Antonio Jose de San Sebastian
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
8.
Levantinas: no 2 by Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 
9.
Levantinas: no 5 by Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 
10.
Levantinas: no 8 by Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Spain 
11.
Antaño by Oscar Esplá
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
12.
Tres Temas de Recuerdos by Jaime Pahissa
Performer:  Martha Masters (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 

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