Narciso Yepes (1927-1997)

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.

Post by Boywithflaxenhair » Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:53 am

I agree with Acelkins that Yepe's playing feels very mechanical and emotionally detached, I especially dislike his lighting-fast dynamic-free rendition of Recuerdos De La Alhambra. He is a good arranger or lute pieces though, I will give him that.

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Post by Sanft » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:46 pm

Okay, lightning-fast and dynamic-free - but when I heard RDLA played by Yepes for the first time life I forgot all other renditions: I suddenly heard the melody! A real melody, not just some repeated notes.
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7stringed Matthias Dammann 1997; 9stringed Neuner&Hornsteiner ~ 1880
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Post by pacfan » Thu Mar 22, 2007 6:54 pm

Maybe the reason some people feel his Alhambra to be mechanical is probably his machinegun-like performance of the tremolo. He's about the only guitarist who strickly follow the crescendo-diminuendo cycle of the piece as, I believe, Tarrega wanted. I have to admit I'm not a real fan of his Alhambra, but nevertheless, I feel a distinct "Spanish-ness" in his interpretation of the piece, not heard on any other recording of the piece by other top-class guitarists - the feeling it evokes is clearly distinct from all others.

King Mango

Post by King Mango » Fri Apr 06, 2007 11:48 pm

My favorite guitarist.
Without doubt NOBODY could carry counterpoint with such distinct clarity. Listen to En los trigales (Rodrigo), Malaguena (Albeniz), and then cap it off with El Sombrero de tres picos (de Falla) all of which can be found on on an inexpensive compilation. And I don't think anybody has ever quite matched his take on Granados' Villanesca from the Spanish Dances. Rumores de la Caleta... His phrasing of Capricho... The list goes on.
I can honestly say the only thing I've never enjoyed listening to him play is Recuerdos, but that's only because Pepe absolutely owns that piece.
I think it's funny that the guy knocking Yepes' lack of temporal expression listed Williams as one of his favorites... ;) Williams is great for Bach but I think he's a one trick pony. He just doesn't have any subtlety. He is just TOO precise. I've never been moved to any depth of emotion listening to him and that to me means more than a mistake here or there. Which I've never heard though I can honestly say classical guitar isn't my life study so I am not familiar enough to recognize a minuscule error, and honestly I play live often and mistakes are part of the business. People don't care. Only other guitarists who are jealous of your success care about your mistakes. ;)

Dana Patchick

Post by Dana Patchick » Fri Apr 20, 2007 3:12 am

Hi Folks,

My first posting. What a great place this is! Didn't really know where to start, but have enjoyed the thread on Yepes and thought I'd say some kind words about him as he is one of my top five classical guitarists if for no other reason than some of the mighty special repetoire he's recorded.

The "Guitarra Espanola" CD that DGG has out (I hope it's in print still) is of course a re-issue of a couple of records, but mainly his fine "Musica Espanola" record from 1972. The Turina Opus 61 Sonata is on that and is one of the finest recordings of it that I've ever heard. Actually it is my favorite. Nobody else's matches it for artistry, etc. The sound is just perfect.

I urge anybody who enjoys modern guitar concertos to seek out and listen to the Ohana "Tres Graficos" and the Ruiz-Pipo "Tablas" works. These pieces are what true 20th Century writing is about. There are not enough really moving compositions for this medium, and I listen to these often and know they will stand the test of time.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that a master such as Yepes was the guitarist.


Post by elcolibri » Fri Apr 20, 2007 6:12 am

Hi All,

Now that Yepes has been evaluated(cna I use that word?) from every angle..I don't have much to add on.
i can only say he is one of my favourites and really 'taught' me to love the instrument by his 'extra caring' and loving approach to every piece he played.
It gave me the feeling of a father playing joyfully with his children..while making sure they don't get hurt!
I mean it..
And i thoroughly agree with the poo quality recording debacle he was subjected to..the one I remember right now is perhaps "roman D'amour' with its high reverb effects on all the tracks, which practically took the chram out of ti.
nevertheles, he is on of the best.


El Colibri


From a Yepes fan

Post by idgl » Mon May 07, 2007 6:21 pm

I think I had better nail my colours to the mast wrt the Yepes debate (who can always tell a bigot but you can't tell him much). My teacher, Fritz Buss, spent most of 1961 in Madrid being taught by Yepes.

Wikipedia states:
In 1964, Yepes performed the Concerto de Aranjuez with the Berlin Philharmonic, premiering the ten-string guitar which was created in collaboration with the renowned guitar maker José Ramirez. Yepes was the greatest proponent of the 10-string, an instrument that made it possible to transcribe works originally written for baroque lute without deleterious transposition of the bass notes. However, the main reason for the invention of this instrument was the addition of string resonators tuned to C, A#, G#, F#, which resulted in the first guitar with truly chromatic string resonance - similar to that of the piano when the pedal is employed.
Yes, of course Yepes was the greatest proponent of the 10-string since he commissioned Ramirez to make the first one.
The important point of the 10-string is the filling in of the bass harmonics that are missing on the 6-string. The ability to play baroque lute works without 'deleterious transposition of the base notes' is an added spin-off but was not the primary reason for creating the instrument.

I suspect that thanks to Buss there are more 10-sting guitars in Johannesburg than in any other city in the world.

More to follow ..

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Post by freestroke » Tue May 08, 2007 1:31 am

Just watched Yepes playing RDLA on youtube. His tremolo is 210-220 bpm! :shock: Yowza!
Hell is full of amateur musicians -- GB Shaw

Astra Piotr

Post by Astra Piotr » Tue May 08, 2007 10:26 am

I wouldn't dare to criticize any of the above mentioned guitarists. :o :o :o

In most cases criticism is very subjective. When we stick to certain standards when something is different we think it's worse. But in fact it's jus different.

I wish I could play like Yepes. Even with his slips or mistakes. :roll: :roll: :roll:


Re: From a Yepes fan

Post by idgl » Tue May 22, 2007 6:06 pm

In a previous post I stated:
idgl wrote: Yes, of course Yepes was the greatest proponent of the 10-string since he commissioned Ramirez to make the first one.
Since then I have had access to the book "Things about the Guitar" by Jose Ramirez III and now I realize that I down played his part in the creation on the ten-string guitar.

I quote:

An obsession with achieving an enriched sound in the guitar led me to study an old, obsolete instrument: the viola d'amore, which has a very interesting feature. There are as many strings on the inside of this viola as there are on the outside, which are the ones that are played. The inner strings vibrate sympathetically and, together with the outer ones, produce a loud harmonious sound.

The idea of applying this system to the guitar involved certain difficulties,but it was so appealing that I decided to give it a try. I made a guitar with two bridges: the normal outer one and another inner one where the six inside strings were attached, to be tuned just as the outer ones. These inner strings ran through the hollow neck to the head, where a double machine-head served to tune the twelve strings. The result of this whole contrivance was a powerful, beautiful sound. I immediately presented it to Maestro Segovia, who was in Madrid at the time. He was very enthusiastic about the sound, but at the same time he pointed out to me the invention's main failing: the inner strings kept on resounding and muddling the continuation of the musical piece being interpreted. It was necessary to cut off the sound of these strings when necessary, just as in the pedals of a piano, but how? Segovia urged me to find solution to this drawback, but as he never offered opinions or solutions on technical matters that as far as he was concerned belonged to another world, he left me alone with the problem.

All the solutions that occurred to me were totally anti-guitar, until I showed the thing to Narciso Yepes, who was also enthusiastic, but as he has a very analytic personality and an indefatigable investigative spirit, he rose to the challenge to to help me solve the problem.

After some time, Yepes proposed to me that I assemble an articulated part inside the guitar that would be activated by a remote control located on the footstool. This control would act as a piano pedal and activate the articulated part to muffle the sound of the inner strings whenever necessary.

I was not very keen on putting so much gadgetry into the guitar, but because it was our only solution and since I was mad at myself for not having overcome the problem, I was willing to try it. But then Yepes telephoned me from somewhere that he had gone to give a concert, and told me: ``Forget the inner strings. If you add four strings to the six normal strings, all on the outside, and these four strings are tuned in a certain way for which I have made a study, we will have the same resonant and harmonic supports as with the inner strings, but with the advantage that by using a special technique, they can be easily muffled with the right hand whenever necessary''. In fact, this was a ten-string guitar. I easily designed this special guitar and built it with no trouble. The only thing that oncerned me was the increased tension on the bridge due to the larger number of strings, so I reinforced the resistance somewhat in this area.

At a private meeting, I turned over this guitar to Yepes, who began to try it out by playing a piece. He resembled a first-year student or even worse. After some time, he looked skyward. I feared that he was going to release a string of insults, but he didn't. What he said was this: ``What a marvelous mess I have gotten myself into!''

Five days later, his tenacity and self-didactic abilities allowed him to give a wonderful concert in Barcelona with this ten-string guitar, which indeed had enhanced resonance and beauty of sound, although it still fell short of the very inaccessible magic of the guitar with inner strings.
Jose Ramirez III

King Mango

Post by King Mango » Wed May 23, 2007 12:07 pm

I just had a wonderful Eureka! moment... Now, whether or not it's viable, is a whole other matter lol


Post by Sameh » Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:59 pm

With all due respect, Yepes is one of the greatest guitarists that ever lived.
I've always respected his deeeeeeep, rich sound, absolute precision, total clarity of melodic & contrapuntal lines & flawless technique. My respect was at least doubled when I watched his concert at the Madrid Real theatre. Simply incredible, this man is :shock: Plz take a look at it by searching for "Narciso Yepes" on Youtube. You will get at least a dozen pieces in the results including Bach's chaconne.
I learned many secrets of the guitar just by watching this giant playing...


Re: Narciso Yepes (1927-1997)

Post by Saeid » Thu Sep 06, 2007 9:53 pm

Mark wrote:Hello!
Florentin asked the following question some time ago: who is our favourite guitarist? It didn't surprise me very much that the overwhelming majority voted for Williams or Bream. But it's very surprising that the great Narciso Yepes was left out. And this happens quite often: people find little interest in his style. For me, he is one of the greatest guitarists of all time: I like his cool, precise style and his great technique (ever heard such a clear, hard tremolo?).
Please be very honest and tell me your opinion about his style and his art. Was Narciso Yepes a great guitarist in your eyes?
You are right! he left out! Maybe because he was in front of his time! with his 10 string guitar. I really wonder of his playing, his high technique, the first piece I've heard from him was "recuerdos de la Alhambra". and I really wonder of his great tremolo! and wonder of how one can play like this?! he is one of my idols!

£uan Pich

Re: Soler Sonata

Post by £uan Pich » Wed Oct 03, 2007 1:23 pm

hey are you still after that soler sonata 54. such a sick sonata i just had to transcibe it to guitar because i could only find the harpsichord sheet music. i think it may be one of those legendary pieces. well to me it is. i've done it in Cmaj. however yepes plays it 2steps up in Emaj. its done in power tab so may try putting it on web. thats unless you have found any tab for this one.

zenking wrote:I can recommend the CD Malaguena by Yepes.

There is a Soler sonata I would just love to be able to play.


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Re: Narciso Yepes (1927-1997)

Post by Vesuvio » Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:33 pm

Hello £uan Pich,

I notice you have only just joined us. Welcome! If you have time please visit the Introduce Yourself area where you might like to tell us a little about your musical background and interests,

Best wishes, V
"There are only two things worth aiming for, good music and a clean conscience." Paul Hindemith

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