Classical Music Review: New Releases

Winston Tan - Echoes Of Our World. Shalom to You my Love (O.E. Simon, arr. Winston Tan); Minuet (Bach); Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Bach); Prelude in C (Bach); Air in G (Bach); Fur Elise (Beethoven); Minuet in A (Beethoven); Ave Maria (Schubert); Serenade (Schubert); Prelude (Chopin); Plaisir d'amour (Martini); Rondeau (Mouret); Canon (Pachelbel); Malaguena (Albeniz); Spanish Romance (Trad.); El Noy de La Mare (Trad.); El Testament'd Amelia (Trad.); Two Italian Lute Pieces (Trad.).  Winston Tan, 8-String Classical Guitar. Golden Bell WT1813 (55'33).  Distributed by Golden Bell Publishing (

The electric guitar is probably the most used instrument in Western music. Its less popular classical cousin, however,  has always occupied pride of place.And why? Because its expressive range is enormous, and a gifted player can draw almost unheard of colors from it. Winston Tan, who studied with Segovia student Oscar Ghiglia, certainly does that here, and his 8-string unamplified instrument has two extra strings which deepen is expressive capabilities.

Tan's playing -- he's arranged and transcribed everything here -- explores that potential in very imaginative ways. The guitarist's phrasing in "Shalom to You my Love", for example, projects the emotional colors of the poem without the sung words ( the text is reprinted in the booklet). And his renditions of rep pieces like J.S.Bach's "Prelude in C" and "Air in G' give a harpsichord-like sound to the first and a lute-like one to the second. Beethoven's "Für Elise" gets a mellow almost contralto sonority here,  while Mouret's "Rondeau", immortalized as The Masterpiece Theatre theme, emerges elegant and very grand salon. But my favorites are less familiar ones like Albeniz's modal "Malagueña" with its dark flamenco rhythms, and "Two Italian Lute Pieces". Though credited as "traditional" they were actually composed by theorest-lutenist Vincenzo Galilei (( 1520-1591 ), the astronomer's father, and the second appeared on the Alex North-scored soundtrack of Carol Reed's Michelangelo film The Agony and The Ecstasy (1965) ( I did the notes for the Varese Sarabande one ) played by the great Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida. They're courtly, evocative, and timeless. The sound througout is warm, and wonderfully present.

-Michael McDonagh
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