Musician's Challenges

Down further I started list of challenging musical compositions that test the quality of the musician.
Please add and continue!

1. Recuerdos De La Alhambra by Francisco Tarrega best played by Pepe Romero IMHO
2. Le Catedral by Augusin Barrios best played by Ana Vidovic
3. Las Abejas by Augustin Barrios best played by Jason Vieaux

Obviously it's Rachmaninoff#3 played by Ashkenazy... anyone better?
There are also great sophisticated set of Chopin ethudes that I'm lost which one is more challenging than the other so there's room to share.
Those are flashy showpieces that test how fast someone can move their fingers rather than pieces that show the depth and breadth of an artist's interpretative mind and soul. There are countless pieces for the guitar that afford the opportunity to express one's musicality over simple virtuosity. Of course a good artist will always find a way to put the music over the technique.

I would recommend pieces on the order of:

Britten--Nocturnal (check out Julian Bream)
Bach--D minor Ciaccona for violin or any lute suite (Eliot Fisk)
Ponce--Sonata III or Variations on La Folia (Andres Segovia)
Granados--La Maja de Goya (Oscar Ghiglia)

Regarding the pieces you mention, I'm a fan of Ana V. but I'd go with
1. Recuerdos--Segovia EMI recording
2. La Cateral--John Williams
3. Las Abejaz--Eliot Fisk

Thanks for the chance to give my 2 cents' worth.
Tostado wrote:

Of course a good artist will always find a way to put the music over the technique.

Generally agreed, but I'd put it a little differently: a good artist will always find a way to put technique in service to the music.

IMO, your point re: technique for technique's sake is spot on. There's plenty of it out there.
How about Andres' Segovia playing "Leyenda"?

Steve Howe's guitar in "Close to the Edge"?

So many things Steve Hackett and Tony Banks did in Genesis?
Segovia wasn't the best technician. You can hear string buzzing, unintended delays etc. Whole new generation of guitar players including David Russell play without single buzz (poorly pressed string). Two links below show not only Sharon Isbin being much more advanced but also playing with much stronger dynamics appropriate to Spanish music.

Segovia was a great teacher and ambassador for guitar music.
Segovia put a personal stamp on the music he played--sometimes for the better, other times not so. But you knew it was him. There is little to distinguish most of the players younger than Barrueco and Fisk. The playing is clean as a whistle but totally unremarkable. I've heard both the players, live and on recordings, and they are top-flight guitarists. Musically they are not among my favorites. Segovia is almost always interesting. Better than 90 percent of the other available classical guitarists are almost never interesting. Other than simply checking someone out, why waste my time with the others?
FWIW, among the "younger set" I like Ana Vidovic, Lorenzo Michele, and, especially, Jorge Caballero. As an older and experienced listener (and something of a player myself), I feel that those three "get it."
From the purely technical viewpoint the most difficult music to play might be the one not designed to be played by human. Conlon Nacarrow music written for pianola was impossible to play because of speed and impossible fingering. I've heard that today few pianists can play it:
"From the purely technical viewpoint the most difficult music to play might be the one not designed to be played by human."

Hmm, technology bettering humans? We know machines are better at some things. Luckily, the machines do not work without a programmer. Maybe learning to program a synthesizer while oozing charisma is the way to go :^)
Mapman, Conlon Nancarrow was originally composing music for piano but when his music got very complex he couldn't find pianists to play it (especially in Mexico where he lived). He switched then to pianola and discovered completely new instrument. It is still music, but concept of a his music "Concert" is strange when you sit in the audience and the only thing on the stage is pianola. Why would anybody pay for that?! On the other hand his music played very loud in my room is beyond believe.
Anne-Sophie Mutter's album "Carmen Fantasie" is an example of the artist showing her chops playing very challenging violin solos.

Fast and technical and the violin is mixed far out in front of the orchestra. I've enjoyed Mutter's previous recordings but unfortunately this CD is not much of a collaboration between soloist and orch as Itzhak Perlman has always done. But it is audiophile quality and worth a listen.
So we're agreeing that the words "quality of the musician," in this context, means "chops?"

I was hoping this was going to be about musicianship and not athleticism.
Segovia has developed an awful right hand positioning for the standards of playing classical guitar after which as he aged he couldn't cope with due to the arthritis and other aging problems. Modern right hand positioning is way more comfortable(I remember my first classical guitar lesson and I jumped out of it right away because I simply couldn't position my wrist correctly!)
Anyways as Andres aged he couldn't play anymore and was playing sloppy.
Segovia's performance once left me speechless - seriously, I could barely talk for an hour after his concert - and he deserves considerable credit for popularizing classical guitar in the 20th century - but he was a sorry teacher. As John Williams (a far better player than Seogiva, imho) has pointed out many times, Segovia was dogmatic and insisted that his way was the only way. See the Michael Chapdelaine (my favorite player today) utube,

where he was kicked out of Segovia's master class for not playing something the same way Segovia did. Contemptible.
You need to separate technique and musicality. Listen to the Segovia EMI recordings and his Decca sides from the 50's. Tell me which players today are as compelling.

Yes, the old-school hand positions are problematic and should not be used. But that doesn't mean the player can't be musical--just listen to Barrueco's Albeniz/Granados album (now available in a VoxBox set) or Williams playing Ponce. Those guys will likely be playing well into their 80's. And it will be worth listening to. Unlike most of the totally unremarkable pristine performances being offered at present. I have utmost respect for the work these people have put into their craft but please don't force me to listen to it when their are better (IMO) alternatives).