Ok, so I am a bit fatigued from listening to too much Ewan Dobson. I think I watched just about every one of his videos on youtube and now I am fine with not listening to him for a while.
Now on to Kazuhito Yamashita. He is, at least for me, just about the best guitarist out there. He has been somewhat of a controversial character (in the small world of classical guitar music). People complain that he plays too fast and he shouldn’t make the transcriptions (Mussorgski’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Stravinsky’s Firebird, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scherezade and Dvořák’s Symphony of the New World) he makes. I don’t know, I haven’t heard the Firebird or the New World Symphony but his Pictures at an Exhibition is just about the best thing I’ve seen this week. Matanya Ophee gives an entertaining review of a performance (1984) at http://www.guitarandluteissues.com/rmcg/ophee.html
Here is a portion of the Pictures:
There are a couple of reasons why I like this guy.
1. I love his interpretations. He doesn’t just “play the notes.”
2. I love watching him perform. I couldn’t hit half the notes moving around like he does ( I have a hard enough time sitting still.)
3. He plays with passion. There is a lot of fire in his playing and that is what I like about him the most.
Every year the Guitar Foundation of America crowns a new hot shot guitarist in their guitar competition. Every single one of them are impressive from a technical point of view (they can all play circles around me with one finger tied behind their back) but most of them I find boring to listen to. What I want from a performer is some serious passion, even if that means there are wrong notes from time to time. Yamashita gives me that.
Yamashita has recorded about 80 albums, all of which, apparently, were not released in the United States. Luckily there are a few videos on youtube. Here is one of my favorites: