Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)

Alberto Ginastera courtesy Classical Guitar Magazine

Photo courtesy of Classical Guitar Magazine (UK)

In a few days, on the 25th, we will commemorate the death of Alberto Ginastera, the great Argentinian composer who left us 35 years ago. He wrote his Sonata, Op. 47 in 1976


This powerful piece comes in four movements :

I Esordio (Solenne – Poco più mosso) • II Scherzo (Fantástico) • III Canto (Rapsódico)

IV Finale (Presto e Fogoso)


It reached the TOP 51 rank of the guitar’s most recorded original pieces. We recommend the following recordings of his Sonata if you are not familiar with it:


Ducharme, Jérôme • Naxos • 8.570189

Pierri, Álvaro • Alpha Omega Sound • AOS 071001

Zanon, Fábio • EGTA • SGV10.150-01


Agustín Pío Barrios


At the beginning of May, on the fifth, we celebrated the birth of Agustín Pío Barrios (1885-1944) [1185 recordings found], Paraguayan guitarist and composer of note.


Barrios has 10 compositions among the TOP 100 most recorded original pieces for classical guitar. The only other composer on a par with this achievement is Francisco Tárrega y Eixea (1852-1909) [1584 recordings] and Barrios’ popularity is still growing strong as one can regularly see CDs issued that present many of his pieces or entirely dedicated to his compositions [in this case, 46 recordings]. The universal appeal of his music is confirmed by the origin of many guitarists recording his compositions: The Americas and Europe but also Greece, Japan, Turkey, Slovakia and many others.


His music has all the ingredients for success: it is complex but touching, virtuosic, varied and exciting. ¡Gracias Agustín!

Congratulations Naxos!!!


Composer Carlo Domeniconi

During April 2018, the Naxos Recording company reached more than 300 guitar, lute and vihuela CDs with their recording of music by Italian composer Carlo Domeniconi played by Turkish guitarist Celil Refik Kaya. Domeniconi’s most popular piece is Koyunbaba, TOP 34 most recorded piece for guitar (see my May 4, 2015 post).

As you surely know, Naxos are leaders in promoting new talent through their Laureate series, featuring competition winners of many countries. They also championed innumerable composers, producing remarkable collections extending from the Renaissance to modern times. So, well done Naxos, and keep up your excellent work!

So you think you can play…what?

www_3concursoguitarra-2018-WEB-700x466Two international competitors told me they had the impression that everyone played the same 15 pieces in competition: Rodrigo’s Tres piezas españoles (it’s Fandango being TOP 18 most recorded piece) or his Invocación y Danza (Top 24); Ginastera’s Sonata (TOP 51), or Antonio José Martinez Palacios’ beautiful sonata (Top 65) etc…

So, this is simply a list of less recorded pieces (No TOP 100 pieces here) that also fit the bill for a competition (virtuosic and musically worthy) without being recorded too much. As usual, the brackets give the number of recordings of a composer or a piece. Thank you to Thierry Bégin-Lamontagne (, who agreed to act as music consultant.

Arnold, Malcolm (1921-2006) [30] Fantasy for Guitar, Op. 107 (1971) [10]

Asencio, Vicente (1908-1979) [79] Collectici íntim (1970) [36]

Berkeley, Lennox Sir (1903-1989) [82] Sonatina, Op. 52 No. 1 (1957) [41]

Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Mario (1895-1968) [576]

Escarramán, Op. 177 (1955) [6]

Haug, Hans (1886-1967) [37] Prélude, Tiento et Toccata (1961) [7]

Llobet, Miguel (1878-1938) [75]

Variaciones sobre un Tema de Sor, Op. 15 (1908) [27]

Rodrigo, Joaquín (1901-1999) [954]

Elogio de la Guitarra (1971) [20]

Un tiempo fue Itálica famosa (1981) [21]

Toccata (1933, discovered 2005) [4]

 Tansman, Alexandre (1897-1986) [185]

Variations on a Theme of Scriabin (1972) [27]

15, 000th recording!

On March 15, 2018 my Classical Guitar Computerized Discography (started in 1985) reached 15, 000 recordings. The 15, 000th CD I entered on that day was Weber’s Complete Songs for Voice and Guitar featuring guitarist Adriano Sebastiani and soprano Patricia Cigna as recorded by Brilliant Classics (No. 95323). Congratulations to all!

Happy birthday Nikita Koshkin!


Russian composer Nikita Koshkin turns 62 today. His most celebrated work is:

Koshkin, Nikita (1956-) [134 recordings]

Usher Waltz after The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, Op. 29 (1984) [54 recordings]

It is dedicated to Vladislav Bláha, a guitarist from the Czech republic. Koshkin, wanting to write a concert-scale waltz, was inspired by his memory of reading Poe’s text when he was a young adolescent. The mood alternately goes from romantic to gloomy to violent, then using strong rasgueados and Bartok pizzicati but still ending in a whisper, shortly after some delicate harmonics.

I recommend Elena Papandreou’s beautiful version of this piece as recorded for the Bis label (CD-1236) in 2003. The whole CD is dedicated to Koshkin’s music.

All you need is love!

Browsing through my CG computerized discography, I found 2409 composition titles with the word love: in English (love), French (amour) and Spanish (amor). Here is a small sample of what I have found. Happy Valentine Day!

Brégent, Michel-Georges

Sappho. Trois poèmes d’amour [Three Love Poems] (1979) [Soprano and Guitar]

Brouwer, Leo (1939-)

From Preludios Epigramáticos (1981) [solo guitar]:

VI Llegó con tres heridas: la del amor, la de la muerte, la de la vida

[He arrived with three wounds: the love one, the death one, the life one]

Goss, Stephen (1964-)

From Songs of Ophelia (2016) [Soprano and guitar]: II. Tomorrow Is Saint Valentine’s Day

Gray, Steve (1947-) From Guitar Concerto: II Love Song

Houghton, Phillip (1954-) Kinkachoo [a sacred bird], I Love You [Solo Guitar]

Kleynjans, Francis (1951-)

Variations sentimentales et capricieuses sur une mélodie d’amour [Solo Guitar][Sentimental and capricious variations on a love melody]

Kučera, Václav (1929-2017)

From “Diario”, Omaggio a Che Guevara (1971): I Day of Love [Solo Guitar]

Marco, Tomás (1942-) From 22 Tarots (1991): VI L’Amoureux [The Lover] [Solo Guitar]

Merlin, José Luis (1952-)

From Cinco Canciones De Amor: I Canción Del Caminante Enamorado [Enamored Walker Song] [Solo Guitar]

Paganini, Niccolo (1782-1840)

From Duetto amoroso for mandolin and guitar: VIII Marques d’amour [Love marks]

Rak, Štěpán (1945-) First Love [Solo Guitar]

Sor, Fernando (1778-1839)

From 12 Seguidillas for soprano and guitar: II De amor en las prisiones [Of Love in jails]

Tesař, Milan (1938-) From Suite Pinocchio: III Avec amour [With Love] [Solo Guitar]

Walton, William (1902-1983) Anon. in Love (Song Cycle for Tenor and Guitar]

Guitar Foundation of America’s Soundboard Magazine reviews Guitar’s TOP 100 in December 2017 issue!

In content and design, this book is a masterpiece— all the more remarkable considering it was published by the author himself. Enrique Robichaud has compiled a list of the 100 most played pieces from the 10, 000+ recordings of classical guitar music at his disposal, and to that added valuable background and ancillary information. The project took twenty-eight years to complete.


In Robichaud’s organizational plan each top-100 item is allotted two pages. The first provides descriptive, historical, and/or factual information about each piece; the second, recommended recordings and further listening. Further listening sections list recordings of pieces related in some way to a top-100 piece. For instance, if the top-100 selection is a sonatina, recordings of other sonatinas by the same or other composers also appear. By this approach, Robichaud’s volume covers 555 pieces, 200 players, and 175 composers, plus 90 luthiers. Composer, instrumentation, and artist indices facilitate the search process.


Guitar’s Top 100 serves not only as a concise reference work but as a lush photo gallery. Images of performers or composers accompany every top-100 item; after every ten items, readers are treated to an additional two- or four-page photographic spread. Altogether, the book presents over 200 images, displayed within the context of Carl Robichaud’s (brother to Enrique) superb graphic layout.


To whet readers’ curiosity, I offer the top five of Robichaud’s top 100 recorded guitar works: (1) Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Tárrega (381 recordings), (2) Capricho árabe by Tárrega (301), (3) Spanish Romance by anon. (235), (4) Choros No. 1 by Villa-Lobos (229), and (5) Mozart variations, Op. 9 by Sor (214). No big surprises here.


Guitar’s Top 100 is available only through the author,


-Robert Ferguson

Trends: Guitar and cello

Recently, Guitar and cello duets seem to flourish everywhere. However, it is not a new occurrence since the release of the album «A Jacqueline Dupré Recital» back in 1963. Doesn’t ring a bell? Guitarist John Williams accompanied cellist Dupré in Falla’s Jota from Canciones populares españolas. A husband and wife team followed suit in 1965: Barbara (guitar) and Jan (cello) Polášek. Cello and guitar teams developed, leaving transcriptions behind to play new repertoire for this combination. This year only (2017) I located 18 cello and guitar recordings among which 5 Cds of Gnattali’s Sonata for cello and guitar. Here is a discography of the most popular original works with their numbers found between brackets (and Merry Christmas to all readers!):

Gnattali, Radamés (1906-1988) [170]

Sonata for Cello and Guitar (1969) [29]: I Allegro comodo • II Adagio • III Con spirito


Bogdanović, Dušan (1955-) [162]

Quatre pièces intimes (1997) [13]:

I Prière • II Mouvement • III La harpe de David • IV Chant


Zenamon, Jaime Mirtenbaum (1953-) [59]

Reflexões No. 6 (1986) [10]: I Fluido • II Doloroso • III Vivissimo


Ourkouzounov, Atanas (1970-) [49]

Tanzologia (2000) [5]: I Contempotango • II Valse slave • III Bulgarian Rock


Baumann, Max Georg (1917-1999) [6]

Duo op. 62 (1958) [4]: I Prélude • II Invention • III Berceuse • IV Hommage à de Falla

German Gitarre-aktuell Magazine reviews Guitar’s TOP 100 in March 2014 issue! (Excerpts in English)

Gitarre aktuell review

With a total of 381, Francisco Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra holds the highest position as most recorded title in « Guitar’s TOP 100 » by Canadian aficionado Enrique Robichaud. Federico Moreno Torroba’s Suite Castellana occupies the 100th position at 42 recordings.


In his 320-page book the author is not content on merely giving a hit parade of the 100 most played classical guitar pieces but passes on extensive information resulting in a work comparable to the Myth of Sisyphus. Such a work could not have been possible without a dedication for the guitar repertoire bordering on obsession. The author shows a captivating passion for the guitar combined to precision and order but also displays the creativity and fantasy needed for the success of such a book .


Some will have suspected that Robichaud has concentrated on the works originally written for the guitar, so the music of Bach, nor the piano music of Albéniz or Granados is to be found in the book. But, this is being consequent and proves that the number of original pieces is not that small.


This very special book will be much useful to build programs and repertoire. The author lists 555 pieces, 200 artists, 175 composers and 90 guitar makers all accounted for in his computerized discography of 10, 000 recordings. He has been working on the subject for the past 28 years. Under this aspect, « Guitar’s TOP 100 » is representative of the behaviour of guitarists : we play the classic « Recuerdos de la Alhambra » as if it embodies everything the guitar seems to be.


Translation : Oliver Pabst