Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant technique

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Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant technique

Postby Gerkey » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:47 pm

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
Štěpán Rak.
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
Rémi Boucher
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:

Tilman Hoppstock plays Paganini Caprice No. 17 from Op. 1
++ http://pluckerreport.com/2011/03/14/wee ... -03142011/

Pavel Steidl 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!

Matt Palmer plays Heitor Villa-Lobos Etude 2
++ Search youtube for: Matt Palmer plays Heitor Villa-Lobos Etude 2

Meng Su plays Paganini
++ Search youtube for: Meng Su plays Paganini - Caprice No. 24 - Virtuoso "Classical Guitar"

Xuefei Yang plays Yi Dance
++ Search youtube for: Café Concert: Xuefei Yang "Yi Dance"

Christian Saggese
++ 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

Antal Pusztai
++Search youtube for: Antal Pusztai - Wonderland
fast playing starts at 3:35


Ricardo Gallen
++ Search youtube for: Ricardo Gallén plays Manuel de Falla -- 'La vida breve'

Zoran Dukic
++ http://www.plushmusic.tv/channels/8TL/zoran-dukic.html
(listen e.g. to the Piazzolla)
He also has a great recording of Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Capriccios de Goya

Rafael Aguirre
++ Search youtube for: Rafael Aguirre - Scarlatti K 141

Emre Sabuncuoglu
++ Search youtube for: N. Rimsky-Korsakov - "The Flight of the Bumblebee," for Classical Guitar

Alexander Vynograd
++ Search youtube for: Alexander Vynograd - Flight of the Bumblebee 220 bpm

Stephan Schmidt plays Scarlatti
++ http://tar-radio.com/myapp/articles/view/38
see esp. "Sonata K 467", "Sonata K 146"

Aniello Desiderio
++ http://tar-radio.com/myapp/articles/view/137
see "Primavera Portena from Les Estaciones Portenas"

Hubert Käppel
++ http://tar-radio.com/myapp/articles/view/51


For Modern and extended techniques

Arthur Kampela
++ Search youtube for: Percussion Study I played by Arthur Kampela

Elena Càsoli
++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!

G.
PS: To say it frankly: I don't like all performances I list above...
Last edited by Gerkey on Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:50 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby FHC » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:01 pm

Never heard of Štěpán Rak. He is a great player and seems like a genuine and kind man.
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby Toccata » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:44 pm

I've seen Xuefei Yang twice: both times she dropped far more notes than either Fisk or Caballero and played far less demanding pieces. A lot of these "clearcut precision" players sacrifice expression for "perfection." I'd rather hear a few dropped notes from a passionate player than listen to a human MIDI file.
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby Sean Eric Howard » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:10 pm

For me, I'd have to say Victor Villadangos.
"Besides, this criticism of Segovia is pointless. If you disagree with what Segovia did, take that energy and go out and do something positive. Otherwise, shut up." - Eliot Fisk
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby Lovemyguitar » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:40 pm

Toccata wrote:I'd rather hear a few dropped notes from a passionate player than listen to a human MIDI file.


I agree. Flawless technique without a deeper level of musical expression is not my idea of the "best." But, whatever floats one's boat!
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby drew p » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:51 pm

^agreed, it's why i find JW extremely boring to listen to.

Anyways, Caballero is my current favorite, but I still say Mauro Giuliani is the greatest guitarist of all time
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby Lovemyguitar » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:15 am

drew p wrote: I still say Mauro Giuliani is the greatest guitarist of all time


Wow, you must be old (lol!). Giuliani wrote some awesome tunes for the guitar, that's for certain!
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby drew p » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:30 am

Lol, well I trust Beethoven when it comes to what he sounded like. And yes, his compositions show a greater understanding of not only the instrument itself but music in general than your average modern-day virtuoso
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby Cary W » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:05 am

For jaw-dropping technique and speed...Marco Tamayo, playing El Colibri...and it succeeds musically. :casque:
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby Magsman » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:06 am

Marcin Dylla. Consider his performance of Maw's Music of Memory on his Naxos CD and his Wavel Castle DVD. Good heavens. Is there a more technically challenging piece in the repertoire? And his rendition of the technically much easier Sonata Romantica by Ponce, on the same media, perfectly described by someone on this forum as "aristocratic." What a musician!
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby Sobers » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:33 am

Don't forget Grisha Goryachev ......... a true virtuoso ......... plays both classical and flamenco
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby Cincy2 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:45 am

When I was a young man in high school (don't ask how long ago that was), there were few guitarists who would be considered virtuosi. Today, there are so many young people with extraordinary technical and musical skill. It's very satisfying.

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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby Toccata » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:01 pm

Magsman wrote:Marcin Dylla. Consider his performance of Maw's Music of Memory on his Naxos CD and his Wavel Castle DVD. Good heavens. Is there a more technically challenging piece in the repertoire?


Yes, but they are also more of a challenge to the listener! :wink: I think Maw's piece has a great balance between musical worth, melody, and technical challenge.
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby btb » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:37 pm

Toccata wrote:I've seen Xuefei Yang twice: both times she dropped far more notes than either Fisk or Caballero and played far less demanding pieces. A lot of these "clearcut precision" players sacrifice expression for "perfection." I'd rather hear a few dropped notes from a passionate player than listen to a human MIDI file.


ummm, Fisk??? what eh ver ;-)
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Re: Best classical guitarist - Virtuosity: brilliant techniq

Postby Toccata » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:23 pm

btb wrote:
Toccata wrote:I've seen Xuefei Yang twice: both times she dropped far more notes than either Fisk or Caballero and played far less demanding pieces. A lot of these "clearcut precision" players sacrifice expression for "perfection." I'd rather hear a few dropped notes from a passionate player than listen to a human MIDI file.


ummm, Fisk??? what eh ver ;-)



Well, that didn't take long. :roll:
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