Internationally acclaimed guitar virtuoso Yuri Liberzon is poised to release his third and most ambitious recording yet – Johann Sebastian Bach’s 3 Violin Sonatas (BWV 1001, 1003, 1005).
Johann Sebastian Bach’s solo violin works are familiar to most classical guitarist as transcriptions. In this instance, Yuri has chosen to record Manuel Barrueco’s transcriptions of the sonatas. These works pose countless complex challenges both interpretively and technically for the artist brave enough to tackle them. The slow movements require extremely refined technique to ornament and distill the beauty of the implied lines, the fugues demand the utmost skill in maintaining the subjects, countersubjects, and counterpoint, and the allegros and prestos push the interpreter to technical limits. All this while communicating Johann Sebastian Bach’s singular and perfect command of form, harmony, and lyricism.
Yuri meets every one of the demands with elegance and finesse, two aspects I admire in his playing. From the opening lushness of the first track, the adagio from the G Minor Sonata, Yuri sets the stage for the entire recording by slowly and calculatedly pulling the listener into a world rich with introspection and beauty. The strengths of this release are many but what perhaps stands out as a theme is how grounded Yuri’s playing is while moving you with a subtle forward momentum. For instance, the allegro from the A Minor Sonata was not taken at a blistering pace but somehow managed to convey a strong, steady energy, much like a tidal wave and the inevitability of its arrival. Another highlight was the monumental Fuga from the C Major Sonata. Again, it is Yuri’s calming but steady sense of structure that moves this movement forward and manages to bring out the overall arc of the piece. The counterpoint is crystalline and phrased beautifully. This does not happen unless it is intentional and that is what is fascinating about Yuri’s playing. It’s like magic – the sum is far greater than the parts. To achieve the effect of such a long line requires an architecturally gifted mind.
I’ve always enjoyed Yuri’s playing. It is similar to Manuel Barrueco’s for all of the perfection but Yuri’s caring and elegant sensibilities, and understated virtuosity, mark his interpretations as none other than his very own.
Overall, this ambitious project is wonderfully produced by both Yuri and Grammy Award-winning producer Nahuel Bronzini. The warmth and crispness that Yuri extracts from his Ruck and is captured in this recording are absolutely delightful to sink into. It may be his best recording yet.
Here is a new and beautifully shot video of guitar wonder Yuri Liberzon playing a great arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion. Yuri’s interpretations are so crisp, clear, and elegant. It is treat to hear more Piazzolla from his guitar.
Yuri recently released a CD of Piazzolla’s music. Check it out here.
And, if you’ve followed Six String Journal, there is a great interview in this and some subsequent posts where Yuri shares some great advice on playing.
I’ve had Yuri Liberzon‘s new recording dedicated to the music of Astor Piazzolla ¡Acentuado! for a few weeks now and have listened to it several times. In addition to the tour de force performance of the seldom heard Tango-Études (originally for unaccompanied flute or violin and transcribed by Yuri’s former teacher and guitar legend, Manuel Barrueco), Yuri is joined by virtuoso flutist Josué Casillas in a beautiful rendition of perhaps one of Piazzolla’s most well-known and beloved pieces in the guitar chamber music repertoire.
¡Acentuado! is wonderful on so many fronts, it’s hard to know where to begin. For starts, one gets the sense that there is nothing Yuri cannot do on the guitar. His virtuosity is understated and elegant and despite the way it serves the music, it is noticeably impressive. The Tango Études are not easy pieces, technically and emotionally, but in his hands they sound effortless and precise whether he is driving rhythms forward or sinking into a meditative cantabile. In a way, Piazzolla’s music with all of its intensity, accents, and precise rhythmic articulations is perfectly suited to a player like Yuri who plays in such an articulate manner.
Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango is always enjoyable listening but it is more enjoyable here as it seems to come across more like a live performance to my ears than a studio recording. Josué Casillas’s playing is brilliant and alive and Yuri grounds the ensemble strongly through all four movements.
This is a great recording all around from a two outstanding musicians. Order a copy of the CD. This will be one you listen to a lot.
Another amazing video from Guitar Salon International capturing Yuri Liberzon performing one of Manuel Barrueco’s arrangements of Astor Piazzolla’s Tango Etudes for flute. Aside from the masterful, crisp, and articulate playing, this performance is particularly compelling given the beautiful 1912 Manuel Ramirez guitar he is playing.
I’m very excited to hear his soon-to- be-released CD ¡Acentuado! featuring all of these Etudes and more Piazzolla! Stay tuned.