The Hispanic flavor is also strong in two other Elan collections: "Con Amores" (Elan 2208), a collection of Spanish and Portuguese songs, sung by Carmen Balthrop, and "Solo Guitar Works of Fernando Sor" (Elan 2204), performed by Lawrence Johnson. Balthrop surveys a rich repertoire from the Renaissance Spanish songs of such composers as Morales and Mudarra to the contemporary work of Argentine Carlos Guastavino.
Balthrop's interpretation is wonderfully idiomatic in a variety of styles, and her voice is exquisite. Complete texts and translations are supplied-a kind of thoughtfulness one does not always get from larger companies. Sor's nickname, "the Beethoven of the guitar" is misleading if it is taken to indicate the absolute quality of his music; the guitar still awaits a composer with the power and imagination of Beethoven. But Sor, an approximate contemporary of Beethoven, was, as player and composer, the most important figure in the history of the guitar before the arrival of Andres Segovia. His music is the greatest composed for the guitar before [Joaquin Rodrigo], Villa-Lobos and Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and it is basic for any serious lover or player of the instrument. Johnson has selected a program representative of Sor's quality and variety, and he plays it fluently and expressively.
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