Classical Guitar reference books – Guitar’s Top 100

Guitar Top100 coverA quick glance at the cover tells you everything about the contents of Enrique Robichaud’s Guitar’s Top 100 – A Guide to Classical Guitar’s Most Recorded Music: it presents the 100 most recorded classical guitar pieces, selected from Enrique Robichaud’s own database of over 10,000 guitar recordings.

Each piece has an accompanying programme note, often quoting from an expert on the particular repertoire. For example, the notes for No. 66, El colibrí, Op. 146 by Julio Sagreras, include a quote from the Argentine musicologist, Dr Melanie Plesch (Tangos, Milongas, Habaneras for guitar. Compiled by Matanya Ophee and Melanie Plesch, with an Introduction by Melanie Plesch, edited by Matanya Ophee: Editions Orphée). For Giuliani, Robichaud quotes Dr Thomas Heck (Mauro Giuliani: A Life for the Guitar. GFA Publications, 2013), for Barrios he quotes Rico Stover (Six Silver Moonbeams: The Life and Times of Agustín Barrios Mangoré, GSP, 2010) and Graham Wade (Traditions of the Classical Guitar. Alma Classics, 2012), who has written the Foreword, is also often quoted throughout the book. No. 7 is Lágrima by Francisco Tárrega and here Robichaud presents two of the background stories behind the composing of this very popular piece: one from Adrián Rius Espinós (Francisco Tárrega, 1852–1909. Valencia: Piles editorial, 2006) and the other by Enrique Ribes. It is this subtle approach to passing on information and opening a path for the reader to research further for themselves, that endears one to this book and to the author.

Sensibly, there are only three Recommended Recordings given for each of the 100 pieces, so that one is not overwhelmed by the choices, and he includes non-commercial recordings made by the artists themselves. For example, for No. 20, Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios by Agustín Barrios, Robichaud recommends Ioana Gandrabur (self-production), David Russell (Telarc) and John Williams (Sony) – the Recommended Recordings always appear in alphabetical order; Robichaud also includes details of the guitar on which the piece was recorded for every piece he lists.

Below the Recommended Recordings are suggestions for ‘Further Listening’. The attention to detail in the book is consistently excellent and in this Further Listening section, Robichaud takes the trouble to make the list progressive, and includes a small icon alongside to indicate the length of the piece.

In his Introduction, Robichaud opens with a discussion about the meaning of music. He mentions Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Artists of 1999: ‘For him, the artist’s legacy of Beauty to our world is first of all a source of wonder. For the Pope, wonder generates enthusiasm which is essential if humanity is to meet and master the challenges of life.’

I hope I am not revealing too much by telling you which piece is No. 1 in the book! It is Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tárrega; it has been recorded 381 times and No. 100 in the book is Suite Castellana by Federico Moreno Torroba, which has been recorded 42 times.

The Guitar’s Top 100 is fully illustrated throughout with photographs of composers and guitarists and also includes a Composer Index, and Instrumentation Index and an Artist Index, as well as a ‘How to Use this Book’ section, ensuring that the reader will make the most of the invaluable information offered in this 320-page book.

Enrique Robichaud’s Guitar’s Top 100 – A Guide to Classical Guitar’s Most Recorded Music has been written with a genuine interest in sharing the wealth of information, which he has collected over many years and like all well-written books, the more one looks at it, the more one gets excited by its contents.

© Thérèse Wassily Saba 2015

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