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Guitar On Naxos
by Ernst Birss

Guitar aficionados wishing to add to their CD collections at reasonable cost should take a close look at the large number of superb guitar recordings now available from the budget classical label, Naxos International. Established American guitarists Marc Teicholz, Adam Holzman and Nicholas Goluses, the extraordinary Colombian virtuoso, Ricardo Cobo, and early music specialist, Richard Savino, have all recently made CDs for Naxos, and there's apparently plenty more to come. For the last few years Naxos has also been awarding a recording contract to a prizewinner in the Guitar Foundation of America Solo Guitar Competition, an event that now attracts some of the best younger players in the world. "Laureate Series" discs by recent GFA prizewinners Jason Vieaux and Jeffrey McFadden are now available; CDs by Elena Papandreou and Antigoni Goni (who shared the Naxos prize in 1995) will be released soon.ecently at Montana State University where I attended the 23rd annual Christopher Parkening Master Class. Since there is no speed limit in Montana, getting there is most assuredly half the fun. Anyone who has been to MSU before lovingly refers to it as "Guitar Boot Camp", as you are totally immersed in guitar for five full days and nights.

The man responsible for these riches is none other than Canadian guitarist Norbert Kraft, the head of the guitar division at Naxos, who has himself made several excellent recordings for the label. According to Kraft, the CDs currently available are, in fact, only the tip of the iceberg. Projects finished or underway include recordings of the complete guitar music of Fernando Sor, Napoleon Coste and Leo Brouwer, to be available as single CDs or in boxed sets! Most of these discs are being recorded in St. John's Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario under the technical supervision of Kraft's wife and duo partner, harpsichordist Bonnie Silver.arkening is joined by David Brandon, his duet partner of 15 years as well as being a fine guitarist in his own right, and John Sutherland, who heads the Guitar Department at the University of Georgia. Both of these men are amazing teachers, and in addition to offering private lessons, they also give lectures on various guitar and music related topics, some of which can be taken for University credit.

Among my favorites on the Naxos label (and I've only listened to part of what's out there) are Marc Teicholz's recording of works by Sor, which includes a stunning performance of the Gran Solo, Op. 14, (Naxos 8.553354), Jason Vieaux's all Latin American and Spanish entry in the Laureate Series (Naxos 8.553449) and Norbert Kraft's recordings of Paganini's Centone di Sonate with violinist Moshe Hammer (three volumes, Naxos 8.553141, 8.553142 and 8.553143). Antigoni Goni's upcoming Laureate CD, which will feature most of the music she played at her Edmonton concert in May, is certainly on my must-buy list!ho send in audition tapes and are chosen as performing students have the unique opportunity to have two private lessons with Mr. Parkening. I say "private" in the very loosest sense of the word - these lessons are conducted on stage in front of at least 60 other people. The lessons learned and the musical insights gained are invaluable. As well, we get to hear first hand many "Segovia Stories", painting a wonderful picture of The Maestro at his best.

CD stores often carry large quantities of Naxos discs, among which a fair number of guitar recordings can usually be found. A 1997 catalogue (by now slightly out of date) is available. The price of a Naxos CD is typically $6-$8.s always a concert - usually one of the highlights of the week - by invited artists. This year, there were two guest artists. The first half of the concert was played by Thomas Geoghan, a composer and arranger from New Hampshire. The second half of the concert, and by far the best part of the evening, was played by none other than our own Caesar and Marcus. The audience was completely charmed by both their music and their sense of humor, and a good time was had by all.

al evening is a concert given by six of the twenty-four performing students. These students are chosen by their peers as being the best representation of that year's performing class. This year's concert was, according to many veterans and organizers of the class, the very finest concert in many years. The highlight of the evening was a quartet of John Sutherland's students from Atlanta. They captured our hearts and spirits as they wove a magical, musical spell that brought the evening and the entire week to a remarkable end.

continue to be involved in this wonderful learning opportunity as much as my schedule will allow and I encourage anyone who has not yet taken advantage of this class to do so. You cannot return home the same as the way you left.

- Ernst Birss