Thanks for your excellent comments, Mark, and yes, it makes perfect sense to me!
Regarding the Walz tempo, according to Wikipedia the tempo of the original (fast) Viennese Walz is 180bpm, as opposed to the slow (English) walz of 90bpm. And that's the count for a beat, i.e. a crotchet. The marked tempo for the G major Valse is 252bpm for a crotchet, which is insanely fast, and I doubt anyone could dance to it at that speed. I played the walz with nominal speed somewhere round 180 - 200bpm, although there are lots of ritards which makes it sound slower. The main two reasons though I don't play it at the marked speed is that in my opinion it starts to lose its time signature and starts to sound as 4/4 arpeggio with triplets, and it doesn't leave much room for interpretation (vibrato, variance in timing of notes etc.). I wonder if the tempo marking in the sheet is meant more for the purpose of technical exercise, and less as an actual performance tempo?
Ref Ferrer piece I very much agree with you about the high notes in measures 5-7. I never liked how they sounded in my performance, but didn't think of toning them down. It's partly the thick high tension strings I have in my cedar top at the moment that really bring the high notes out, a bit too much at the times, and I should keep in mind to control the volume better.
Measures 26-28 are my favourite part of the piece (and yes, the piece by itself is my favourite one of the course as well). I love that section musically and try to make the most of it. Major thirds played on 2nd and 3rd string low-mid-neck are in my opinion the most beautiful sounds the guitar is capable of, when played delicately, and everything else in my performance is kind of building to that chord. I meant the repeat of the theme in the end to sound (and feel!) different than in the start of the piece. There is an element of triumph into it, just as you suggested, but it's also done on purpose. I wanted to exploit the contrast of an exploding arpeggio after the softly played B note. I have played the start of the piece in a similar way, but I then find it problematic what to do with the B section and when revisiting the theme. I "locked down" to playing the piece this way quite early, as it felt like the right thing to do with it, although I've tried lots of minor variations (when not recording). The one I posted was clearly one of the best sounding tries.
Anyway, thank you very much for your positive feedback, Mark! It means a lot to me, and the feedback here in general has helped to build my confidence with my CG playing.
Jack, the problems with recording vs. regular practice are familiar to me as well. A simple solution would be to record all your practice (which is easy enough to delete after the session, unless there was something worth keeping). A big part of the recording problem is that you have decided that you need to produce something in this very session, which will inevitably make you nervous and cause you to lose your concentration. If you just keep your camera rolling throughout all your practice, you will soon forget about it and find your concentration. I also found out that for some reason recording just audio was a little bit easier than video. You should keep in mind that when you're cold you're unlikely to play well. Allow yourself some warmup time with the camera on. When I record more than one piece in a row, I always find that the first one takes the longest to get right, and the next ones will go much easier. You could trick yourself by recording something that you don't need to (for example a piece from a past lesson) first, so that when you get that right you'll be all warmed up, and can record your assignment with just few takes.
I think the gig for friends is a great idea! I had one during Easter, and although it didn't go nearly as well as practice, it wasn't too bad either, and the audience enjoyed it. In my opinion the key to stepping to the great unknown (the first gig) is not to expect it to be perfect and effortless. You will probably make some mistakes, possibly even lose track of where you were in the music, having to start again. And most importantly realize that you will survive the mistakes, and the next time will be much easier. I say do the gig rather sooner than later! Your playing will benefit from the experience, and I bet the recordings will feel much easier after that!