If you're looking for the "best classical guitarist" in terms of highest skill of technique and virtuosity... who will you find?
Here's a list that I've gathered over some time, of really stunning technical players. I hope you find it useful, if you're interested in this topic.
My favourite high-virtuosity player is
Technically he has taken the guitar to places that are miles beyond others.
Think: thumb tremolos, while playing other voices simultaneously, etc.
Here he plays an arrangement of Martin Böttcher's Winnetou-Melody from the movie Apache Gold (watch out for the thumb tremolo)
++ Search youtube for: Vinnetou - Guitar Štěpán Rak
++ Search youtube for: Štěpán Rak - natočeno v Clubu pohody a zdraví Blansko - Klepačov
Some fine extended tremolos:
++ Search youtube for: Modlitba (Bulat Okudžava) - Štěpán Rak
Štěpán Rak's arrangement and variations on Romance, are one of the true highlights of the classical guitar:
++ Search youtube for: Stepan Rak "Romanoza" (live)
++ Search youtube for: Štěpán Rak- Romanza(anonym)
For some of Rak's truly boundbraking works, you'll need to hear his "Terra Australis"; which is a revolutionary work spanning 2 CDs, with every imaginable technical feat.
His performance of the work 'Balalaika' (on the guitar) is also one of the truly amazing technical feats.
Another great technical player is
He can also handle thumb tremolos while playing other voices.
For an entire video of Boucher's genius, look at this:
++Search youtube for: 20.02.12 Даль-ТВ - Реми Буше.avi
At tracktime 24:00 you can hear him play an amazing work called Chinese butterfly (doing thumb-tremolos while playing other voices). This is really a must-listen!!!
(PS: At tracktime 5:00 (the first work) he plays a solo arrangement of the Aranjuez Concerto.)
For other "similar" players see also: Kazuhito Yamashita
, Jorge Caballero
Personally, I classify Rak, Boucher, Yamashita and Caballero as having a "flashy" but somewhat unclean virtuosity (in the most difficult works): in their playing (of the most difficult parts) I often find missing ... the ultrahigh and clearcut precision that one can find in some modern players (see e.g. Xuefei Yang, Meng Su, Beijing Guitar Duo, etc. below). Of course Rak, Boucher, Yamashita and Caballero drive to the limits of technique (some of them even to the extent of sacrificing musicality in order to play their stuff. Anyway, I regard Štěpán Rak as the best amongst these ultra-players).
The main difference between what I called "somewhat unclean virtuosity", and the "ultrahigh and clearcut precision" of players like Meng Su and Xuefei Yang seems to be that Su and Yang spend more time on better training in the basics, and don't play some technical challenge, unless they have true control over what they do. This has to be contrasted with the other type, where the players progress fastly to do technical challenges, and rely on somewhat rudimentary reflexes (and only basic reflex-patterns), instead of training high control basics (and variable differing reflexes, such as: variations in speed and dynamics, and overall high precision). There is a reason for this, as I will attempt to explain below:
So I believe some of the "somewhat unclean virtuosity" is due to too fast progression, but on the otherhand this might be necessary, because otherwise a truly clean "precise" level will never be reached (due to incredible difficulty, or even unsuitability of the work for solo guitar): So instead of never playing the work, because of not reaching full technical "precision"; these players compromise by actually playing the work, but not at fullest technical precision. (in the most difficult works, or those that are simply unsuitable for the solo guitar)
But the technique of some new young players is astoundingly clean, to the extent that they can realize some works that others previously played with "unclean virtuosity". The best example is Eliot Fisk's "unclean" performance of Paganini Caprice 24, which Meng Su surpasses and performs with true perfection.
For somewhat more conventional virtuosity (no more thumb tremolos) and a few examples of very clean precision have a look at these:
plays Paganini Caprice No. 17 from Op. 1
++ http://pluckerreport.com/2011/03/14/wee ... -03142011/
showing legato scales on a 19th century guitar
++ http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ivysilani/1 ... /#t=18m00s
see tracktime starting from around 18:00 to 19:00 for some nice technical work!
plays Heitor Villa-Lobos Etude 2
++ Search youtube for: Matt Palmer plays Heitor Villa-Lobos Etude 2
++ Search youtube for: Meng Su plays Paganini - Caprice No. 24 - Virtuoso "Classical Guitar"
plays Yi Dance
++ Search youtube for: Café Concert: Xuefei Yang "Yi Dance"
++ High quality Audio-only: Search youtube for: Christian Saggese - Intermezzo Cavalleria Rusticana di P.Mascagni - harpguitar
++ For the video, search youtube for: Christian Saggese - Intermezzo Cavalleria Rusticana - Guitar.flv
++Search youtube for: Antal Pusztai - Wonderland
fast playing starts at 3:35
++ Search youtube for: Ricardo Gallén plays Manuel de Falla -- 'La vida breve'
(listen e.g. to the Piazzolla)
He also has a great recording of Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Capriccios de Goya
++ Search youtube for: Rafael Aguirre - Scarlatti K 141
++ Search youtube for: N. Rimsky-Korsakov - "The Flight of the Bumblebee," for Classical Guitar
++ Search youtube for: Alexander Vynograd - Flight of the Bumblebee 220 bpm
see esp. "Sonata K 467", "Sonata K 146"
see "Primavera Portena from Les Estaciones Portenas"
For Modern and extended techniques
++ Search youtube for: Percussion Study I played by Arthur Kampela
++Search youtube for: Studio Maurizio Pisati played by Elena Càsoli
Christian Saggese has released some of his guitar secrets, which are well worth a look. See his youtube page.
I need to add that just playing at high virtusity does not automatically make for a good performance. Ask yourself why!
PS: To say it frankly: I don't like all performances I list above...