New CD of the Week | Xuefei Yang: Concierto de Aranjuez

 

This luminous release of Xuefei Yang playing Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez features the very same orchestra that premiered the work in 1940 with guitarist, Sainz de la Maza – the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, here led by Eiji Oue.  Also included is Yang’s own solo arrangement of España by the great Spanish composer, Isaac Albéniz, as well as a brand new Albéniz-inspired concerto written expressly for Yang by British composer and guitarist, Stephen Goss.

 

Watch Xuefei Yang play during the Barcelona recording sessions. 


Born in Beijing following the Cultural Revolution, an era where Western music & instruments were banned, the fascinating story of Yang’s rise to the world stage is that of a musical pioneer.  She was the first ever guitarist in China to enter a music school and became the first to launch an international professional career.

"The guitar chose me.  It was fate," Yang explained.  Her parents wanted to calm her hyperactivity as a child and felt a musical instrument was the answer.  At first, they thought the accordion was a good choice, very popular in China.  They turned, however, to her teacher at school who encouraged Yang to join her guitar group.  So began Yang’s love affair and lonely journey with an instrument foreign to most of China’s 1.3 billion people.  "I felt isolated," Yang said, "but the more frustrated I felt, the more I wanted to prove my instrument."

It’s easy for Rodrigo to overshadow what else makes this new release shine: Yang’s breathtaking account of Albéniz’s España, recorded - not surprisingly - in one flowing take, and the stunning world-premiere recording of Stephen Goss’s Albéniz Concerto.  In it, Goss brilliantly weaves some of Yang’s favorite Albéniz melodies, two pieces from Iberia and two from the Suite Española.  The Goss is sure to become standard repertoire for guitar and orchestra, as Yang follows in the foot-steps of her predecessors like Andrés Segovia and Julian Bream by inspiring significant new works for her instrument.  And to think, she’s only 33.  What a bright future in store for this amazing, poised young woman who is already dominating the guitar world.