Isaac Albéniz’s Leyenda (aka Asturias) is overplayed. Which is exactly why I’m posting Goran Krivokapic‘s wonderfully produced video of it. It stands high above most renditions. Goran’s playing has always interested me. He is always musical and supremely virtuosic. What draws me into this recording is the consistency of his articulation throughout the whole first third of the piece and the recap. I also love how he uses octaves in the slower, more introspective section. The choice imbues the melodic lines with elegance. The whole arrangement is a breath of fresh air, or perhaps, a gust of wind from southern Spain. The intensity and the clarity in Goran’s playing is a nice contrast to how calm he looks. Music is just being channeled perfectly here and fortunately for us, it was captured on video.
Here is a new video from Canadian guitar phenomenon, Drew Henderson, performing Isaac Albéniz’s Zambra Granadina. Drew’s playing is beautifully nuanced, crystal clear, and absolutely effortless. The production is wonderful at capturing both the sound of the Martin Blackwell guitar and the warmth of the room.
Before everyone rushes off to check out Drew’s other videos on his youtube channel, here is another great video of him playing Mertz’s arrangement of Schubert’s Lobder Tränen on a hauntingly beautiful romantic guitar by René Lacôte built in 1868.
Here is a video of acclaimed Spanish virtuoso, Rafael Aguirre, performing Issac Albéniz’s Torre Bermeja. This is one of the strongest performances of this piece I have ever seen. Aguirre’s sense of pulse, grounding, and time along with his crystal clear command of the instrument elevates his playing to some of the best piano renditions out there. Superb on so many levels. Enjoy!
Though most of us know Asturias as one of THE concert pieces to learn as a soloist, it is seldom heard in arrangement for guitar duo. I was drawn to this performance for two guitars by Polish guitarists Ewa and Dariusz Kupinski of the Kupinski Guitar Duo. Playing their arrangement beautifully with both virtuosity and flair presents a strong case for this beloved composition as a great piece for guitar duet.
For longer listening, here is a masterful arrangement of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue:
So you’ve practiced the passages using the tried and true metronome crawl up to tempo, you’ve done your visualizing, you’ve done your right hand and left hand alone, and you’re searching for yet another way to work on a troublesome passage or to give yourself an iron-clad safety net? Search no further!
I’m going to use a passage from Isaac Albéniz’s Sevilla to illustrate a very effective way to break down a trouble spot. This method is particularly great for passages with rhythmically equal notes. In the following example, you have a continuous string of 16th notes.
STEP 1 – PAUSE, PREPARE, VISUALIZE, REPEAT
Provided you have arrived at your fingering of choice for both hands, practice the passage by playing the first group of 4 16ths, then pause AND prepare/plant the next right and left hand fingers on the upcoming note. Enjoy the notion that theoretically it will be impossible to miss this next note if both left and right hand fingers are prepared.
Play the same group of notes with the same pause and preparation. When your fingers feel confident (I aim for 3-5 well executed and focused repetitions), proceed to the next group of four notes. During the pause, visualize the group of notes you are about to perform before playing them.
Play the same group of notes with the same pause and preparation. When your fingers feel confident, proceed to the next group of four notes until you have gone through the entire passage.
STEP 2 – PAUSE, PREPARE, VISUALIZE
Now go through the passage in the same manner with the pause and preparation. Visualize the next group of 4 16th and play them. Pause, prepare, visualize though the passage. Move forward without repetitions.
STEP 3 – PLAY
Now play through the passage without pause to assess your work. It has to feel good. Now that you are pumped, the fun can begin.
REPEAT STEPS 1-3 DISPLACED BY ONE NOTE
This time notice we are working with a new group of sixteenths displaced by one note.
REPEAT STEPS 1-3 DISPLACED BY TWO NOTES
REPEAT STEPS 1-3 DISPLACED BY THREE NOTES…
Hope this helps. Challenge yourself with groupings of 6 or 8 16ths or if you really have a lot of time and the passage is particularly troublesome, groups of 3 or 5 16ths. If you listen with focus and observe the behavior of your fingers with curiosity you will improve!