A sumptuous, physical beauty of sound
I hardly know where to begin. There are so many fine guitarists on the Naxos label alone that it is difficult to stand out from an ever expanding crowd. And yet on my first hearing of Irina Kulikova on her first Naxos recording featuring the music of Ponce, Tansman, Brouwer, and Jose, I was immediately struck by a sumptuous physical beauty of sound like no other I've heard.
On this, her latest effort for Naxos, the party continues unabated. The first cut, the prelude of Bach's first Cello Suite, is a perfect example. So often Bach played on the guitar sounds like an effort to set the new Guinness book of world records for fastest arpeggios, which usually leaves me feeling like I've had way too much coffee. Ms. Kulikova chooses a pace that is literally refreshing, finishing with a dynamic crescendo that leaves me feeling exhilarated in the healthiest sense. Her playing of the entire suite is so melodic, so musical, that it borders on the astonishing, considering she is playing it on the guitar.
And for those listeners who find string squeaks, fret buzzes and any other assorted guitar noises objectionable, not to worry, her sound is near perfect. I say near perfect because even though I haven't actually heard any squeaks, there must be a least a few in there!
That is only the beginning. The rest of the album is equally delightful on so many levels that words could never truly convey, so I won't even attempt it.
I would also like to offer kudos to another magnificent production by Norbert Kraft, whose body of work on the Naxos Guitar Series is nothing short of spectacular.
Irina Kulikova is a treasure. Treat yourself. You'll be the better for it. The world will be the better for it.
- Richard Mitarotonda