NARCISCO YEPES

30 November 2010

Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ was the first time I heard Mr Yepes play.  I still have the vinyl LP, and it is his version that I think of as the standard or benchmark.

I always found it odd that Yepes was not rated properly.  He had a very clean technique, but that doesn’t mean he was emotionless!

I have found this sort of thing a lot with guitar-players and critics over the years — they compare and compete.  The fact is that Yepes had to be compared with Segovia or Bream, which is unfair as they are so exceptional.  Yepes died in 1997, Segovia in 1987 and Bream is still around, so they were contemporaries.  Perhaps Yepes would not be accused to being detached and emotionless in another context.  I think he suffered from the comparison — and yet they did their own distinct things.

Yepes pioneered the 10-string guitar and transcribed loads of lute stuff.  The impact is clear today with the likes of  Dominic Frasca — or even with harp guitars of the likes of Andy McKee and Antoine Dufour, or more traditional work by Pasquale Taraffo, Mario Maccaferri, Luigi Mozzani, and Gian Battista Noceti.

[embedded videoclip from YouTube of Yepes playing Recuerdos de la Alhambra]

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLHR8zaEsA8]

[embedded videoclip from YouTube of Dominic Frasca playing 10-string guitar]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2BOApUvFpw]

Vai gets a lot of stick for being more technique and less emotion, yet I think that criticism is often founded on dubious contextual comparisons or personal preference.

So if you take Narscisco at face value, and listen to his playing on ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ (especially the Navarro one I grew up with), and you will hear a superb guitarist.  He has such a natural affinity with Spanish music.  When it comes to Spanish guitar music, not many can do it the justice that Narciso Yepes did.

Anyway, he deserves a mention on my blog for “sharing things I like” as he has always been around when I need him.

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