Otmar Liebert is tremendous, you'll love him... Try "Borrasca" He's avaialable at Amazon.com
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By "spanish guitar" do you mean flamenco, folk music, or the wealth of classical music for guitar by Spanish (and Latin American) composers? If the last, there's a wealth of material in the Naxos Guitar Series: every one is wonderful, and strongly recommended. A good place to start would be the discs by Jason Vieaux (also his discs of Ponce and Albeniz on Azica) but you can't go wrong with any of them.
for 'real flamenco' guitar (old school):
Paco de Lucia, Carlos Montoya, Los Romeros (the 'gran family' of flamenco guitar)
for new school: Tomatito
for 'folk' flamenco: EA
for flamenco 'melange': Radio Tarifa
for the most accessible but truly gyspy inspired: Gypsy Kings
PS: Otto and the like are NOT flamenco, they remind of supermarket sushi!
lest I forget: Bebo & Cigala "LLagrimas Negras"
which isn't a flamenco album per se but a flamenco singer paired with a Cuban jazz pianist doing classic love songs from the 'golden era' of popular latin love songs. This will give you an idea of what a flamenco singer sounds like.
Bebo at 80+ is truly tremendous (he is chucho valdes' father).
All good suggestions, although covering a range from older, classical Spanish through Latin American to Noveau Flamenco, three quite different flavor mixes. I second Swklein's suggestion that Naxos label is a great, economical place to look.
Consider the 4 CD set on Deutsche Grammophon by Narcisco Yepes, entitled 'Guitarra Espanola'.
Liona Boyd's 'El Camino Latino' has to be one of the sunniest in a sort of cheerful noveau Latin American way.
Paco de Lucia 'Entre Dos Aguas' (Philips)
John Williams, 'The Seville Concert', featuring 'Concerto de Aranjuez'
Yes, there is a real difference between the neo flamenco people like Jesse Cook, Ottmar, etc. [which I do like] and the REAL guys like Montoya. Some might say it's like comparing Kenny G to John Coltrane, although I think that's an insult to the neo flamenco artists and not completely fair either. But there is a difference.
Real flamenco people also get pissed if you associate the Gypsy Kings with them. Maybe because they're actually from France or because of their worldwide pop appeal. I like them too. But then again some of these people don't think anything is true flamenco unless it comes from the caves of The Sacramonte. Suffering seems to be a big part of flamenco.
There's also a lot of great non-flamenco Spanish guitar work.
Amazon.com has a lot of nice neo flamenco compilation discs such as Flamenco Fire and Flamenco Passion with artists like Ruben Romero, Strunz & Farah, Jesse Cook, Ottmar Leibert, etc... I'll definitely have to check out the Gino D'Auri XRCD.
The thing I like about music from Spain is that it has so many great Gypsy [Middle East & Indian] and North African influences. Rich and passionate!
I just listened to Ottmar Liebert's Solo Para Ti. This is the first that I've found from the above recommendations. Both my wife and I much enjoyed this CD, and having Santana as a guest musician was also a treat. I hope to find some of the more traditional flamenco music listed above and compare with respect to my preferences.
Thanks again for the suggestions
As to Segovia consider the EMI label 'Great Recordings of the Century' series;
'Andres Segovia - 1927-1939 Recordings, volumes 1 and 2'. Segovia is, of course, largely credited with the modern establishment of the guitar as a legitimate classical concert instrument. Lots of the Spanish guitar standards in this set.
I agree with Rockethouse that Paco Pena is a must have for any serious fan of flamenco. Saw him live with his dance troupe and singers a couple of years ago-they were truly inspired that night. Paco de Lucia is amazing and perhaps the most exciting, but not really "flamenco puro". He relies heavily on electric accompaniment and non-traditional instruments such as electronic keyboards, electric bass, and saxophone. Check out "Paco de Lucia Plays Manuel de Falla" on Philips from the late 80's. Gypsy Kings are also great for a more "easy-listening flamenco" although live/lived as true gypsies more so than the others. Ottmar Liebert is top-40 where flamenco is concerned and should left out of any serious discussion about flamenco. The Assad Brothers are great, play more classical-style and are great technicians. The Romeros are great and play a wide variety of Spanish guitar music well (I have also seen them perform together a couple of times). Check out the Santa Fe(Argentina, not NM) Guitar Quartet (on the Klavier label) if you like the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, etc. Perhaps my favorite from years ago are Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya (a husband/wife duo)-check out any of their work, most of which is out-of-print. Happy listening!!
Sall4; Let me give an enthusiastic second on Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya. I had some wonderful vinyl of them as a duo, and some great solo recordings as well. I haven't looked really hard for their duo work on CD, but none has jumped out at me.
One fine Lagoya CD is 'Alexandre Lagoya - Bizet & Carmen Dances'. This has fine Spanish guitar arrangements, backed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields chamber orchestra. On the Philips
Digital Classics series #446 002-2. No Ida Presti here though.
Anyone knowing of CDs of the Presti-Lagoya partnership, please let us know...
how about Alex Fox? I didn't see him listed above, and since I only have one cd by him I'm not sure he's purely Spanish guitar. I would describe him as more "nuveau" spanish guitar. The cd I have is "Personality". It's worth a listen. It also has interesting versions of "Stairway to Heaven" and "The Wall"
Thanks again for the posts.
I've now had the chance to listen to several additional artists. Among those to whom I've listened, I most enjoyed John Williams (El Diablo Suelto and Spanish Guitar Music), Jesse Cook (Vertigo), and Jason Vieaux (Guitar Recital). Vieaux is particularly interesting with some unusual melodies. My wife finds John Williams music to be fun and energetic.
I look forward to hearing others.
Many here have mentioned Strunz & Farah and rightly so. I had reviewed it earlir on Audiogon and you can check it out via the link next to my ID.
Another CD which is also repeatedly mentioned in this thread is Gino D'Auri - Flamenco Passion, which is also a beautiful album with killer sonics.
Despite of all the lovely albums mentioned and knowing your wife likes John Williams, you may or may not know this but Concerto de Aranjuaz is considered by some as the best music written for the guitar. Rodrigo who composed it in early 20th century was spanish and was blind since age 7. What an acomplishment.
I don't think anyone mentioned the album "Friday night in San Francisco" which is probably the best from the trio Delucia, Dimeola and McLaughlin. My apologies in advance if it was already mentioned on the thread.
I just came across something (although these guys have been around for a while) with a fresh take on some Spanish and Latin stylings; LAGQ - LLos Angeles Guitar Quartet): "Latin", on Telarc. Some very nifty arrangements of standards like Sevillas, Concerto de Aranjuez, and Bizet's Carmen suites, and a few out-of-the-way gems as well.
Got my discs the other day, just got to listen to them last night...awesome! Wasn't t the main system, so haven't heard the SACD yet....
I also bought the Paco De Lucia Siroco which is also excellent!
Can't wait for the next time I get to cook some Paelia and make some sangria......with the new digital music server I set up with my MAC's and the new dinning room set, I'm good to go!
The late Narciso Yepes is perhaps my favorite guitarist- Spanish or otherwse. With each of his recording there is the sense of a madman and master at one with his instrument. I recently purchased the 5 CD set called "Guitarra espagnola" used from Amazon for around $25. I have found endless enjoyment listening critically and as background while I work. This is the perfect "not background music" background music to play when you have guests. You and your guests will find yourself withdrawing from lively conversations to enjoy a poignant, sweet, or sinister moment with the music. This is a compilation of recordings from the past 20 or 30 years. The quality of the recordings is very good but at times varied. The availability of the compilation is very limited. Get it while you can!
Glad to see you got the Jason Vieaux disc. I attended a recital of his at Merken Concert Hall in NYC a couple of years ago, he is an outstanding talent and a very nice guy. And an audiophile, he has a Linn Sondek, among other pieces! If you can get his Albeniz disc, it is well worth it, artistically and sonically (that label has audiophile pretentions).
For flamenco, you might also want to listen to Manitas De Plata (sp, I'm sure). Made some recordings on the Vanguard label, one of which I believe was reissued on SACD.
And anything by Andres Segovia, perhaps the greatest classical guitarist of all time. I was fortunate enough to hear him in concert years ago, he was as good as his reputation.