"Described by the Boston Globe's Michael Manning as a musician who plays "beyond virtuosity," guitarist Sharon Isbin has been a consistent challenge for critics, who struggle to find the right superlative that would do justice to her exquisite playing. "In her hands," wrote Anne Midgette in The New York Times, "the guitar takes on the precision of a diamond, each note a clear, shining facet that catches, prism-like, a glimpse of the spectrum." In essence, a performance by Isbin is like a painting by Vermeer: a formally impeccable and inexhaustible work of art."
"Artist portrait" is a beautifully arranged bouquet of Sharon Isbin’s “best”. In this album, she has combined in a single CD Baroque, Latin music, Folks songs, and modern concerti commissioned by the artist. Mrs. Isbin has created the guitar department at Julliard School of Music, she has commissioned more concerti then any other guitarist, has won a Grammy, has written the Classical Guitar Answer Book to mention just a few of her outstanding accomplishments.
Until recently, so much of this first opera that Handel wrote for Italy was lost that it was unviable to stage it. The rediscovery of the missing material, a triumph of scholarly detective work, reveals the confident high spirits which characterise so much of Handel’s music during his Italian visit. It lacks the instrumental colours of his more lavish London productions, with many arias supported by continuo alone. All are here, complete (even six which Handel himself discarded), but many are brief and, under Curtis’s lively direction, the dramatic tension builds up splendidly. He has also shortened the recitative, reflecting Handel’s own tendency later, in England, when writing for a non-Italian speaking audience. After a fleeting moment of uncertainty in the Overture, the orchestral playing is superb throughout. Both Banditelli (Rodrigo) and Calvi (Fernando) are well-characterised in their trouser roles, an apt touch of darkness in the voice reflecting Handel’s original castrati. Piau is appealing as Rodrigo’s forgiving wife in some of the most memorable arias – her first with delicate flutes, in Act II, confusing the ear with ambiguous up-beat rhythms. Fedi, as Rinaldo’s rejected mistress, is uncomfortably hard-edged when passions are roused. Outstanding is Müller, duetting alluringly with bassoon, strutting arrogantly in a victory celebration. (George Pratt, BBC Music Magazine)
For this album, renowned classical guitarist Christoph Denoth joins with the London Symphony Orchestra under conductor Jesus Lopez Cobos to bring us a beautiful recording of compositions by Lorenzo Palomo, Joaquin Rodrigo, and Joquin Malats. The title track of the album, Palomo’s Nocturnos de Andalucia, was composed for Pepe Romero. The full suite for guitar and orchestra was premiered in Berlin on January 27, 1996, with Romero performing.