Until recently, so much of this first opera that Handel wrote for Italy was lost that it was unviable to stage it. The rediscovery of the missing material, a triumph of scholarly detective work, reveals the confident high spirits which characterise so much of Handel’s music during his Italian visit. It lacks the instrumental colours of his more lavish London productions, with many arias supported by continuo alone. All are here, complete (even six which Handel himself discarded), but many are brief and, under Curtis’s lively direction, the dramatic tension builds up splendidly. He has also shortened the recitative, reflecting Handel’s own tendency later, in England, when writing for a non-Italian speaking audience. After a fleeting moment of uncertainty in the Overture, the orchestral playing is superb throughout. Both Banditelli (Rodrigo) and Calvi (Fernando) are well-characterised in their trouser roles, an apt touch of darkness in the voice reflecting Handel’s original castrati. Piau is appealing as Rodrigo’s forgiving wife in some of the most memorable arias – her first with delicate flutes, in Act II, confusing the ear with ambiguous up-beat rhythms. Fedi, as Rinaldo’s rejected mistress, is uncomfortably hard-edged when passions are roused. Outstanding is Müller, duetting alluringly with bassoon, strutting arrogantly in a victory celebration. (George Pratt, BBC Music Magazine)
"Described by the Boston Globe's Michael Manning as a musician who plays "beyond virtuosity," guitarist Sharon Isbin has been a consistent challenge for critics, who struggle to find the right superlative that would do justice to her exquisite playing. "In her hands," wrote Anne Midgette in The New York Times, "the guitar takes on the precision of a diamond, each note a clear, shining facet that catches, prism-like, a glimpse of the spectrum." In essence, a performance by Isbin is like a painting by Vermeer: a formally impeccable and inexhaustible work of art."
…In encountering this record, all doubt and cynicism should removed; what is happening here is that the canon for the acoustic, classical guitar is being rewritten. This music is the sound of passion as interpreted by and spoken for in a new rock & roll language. Initial copies of the CD also come with an enclosed DVD so you can see the magic as well as hear it.
John Williams, classical guitar virtuoso, is known for his wide-ranging approach to repertory, which includes appearances playing electric rock guitar and international music. (…) Williams has toured throughout the world. He has performed and recorded nearly the entire standard guitar repertory, plus a large quantity of transcriptions. Several of these transcriptions are by his own hand. He was a professor of guitar at the Royal College of Music in London from 1960 to 1973. However, he also has a strong tendency to explore music outside the classical tradition. He does session work on film soundtracks, has arranged Beatles songs, and plays electric guitar in Sky, a classical-rock fusion band. He has also formed his own ensembles, John Williams and Friends and Attacca, to explore other music.
“Thanks to Yang's synthesising mind, of which her frightening technical fluency and musical intelligence are but two manifestations, this programme works a treat. The Rodrigo concerto is replete with that barely contained explosiveness that recalls Argerich at her best” ~Gramophone