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Dip Your Ears, No. 240 (Thibaut Garcia in Bach: The Little Guitar Recital That Should Have)

available at Amazon
Bach Inspirations
Thibaut Garcia (+ Elsa Dreisig)
Warner Classics

Who said these #DipYourEars segments are recommendations? This one, for example, isn’t. Although it could have and should have been one! Thibaut Garcia’s album “Bach Inspirations” is, on paper, something I ought to love love love. He’s encircling the greatest composer there ever was, playing his guitar in works that pay tribute the father of twenty and grand master of the organ. These composers include Augustín Barrios Mangoré, Charles Gounod, Alexandre Tansman (!), Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Dušan Bogdanović. And he throws a few Bach transcriptions into the mix. This should go down like Glenfarclas 15 but somehow it strikes me more like Berry Cherry Kool-Aid.

It’s not Garcia’s playing, which is fine and professional, with a light romantic touch and an excess of technique and sheer ability to beget envy. It’s, surprisingly, the selection of the pieces. On their own, they’re fine and interesting (for the most part), but the way they are presented here, in flawless but breezy and none-too-committed interpretations, they come across as saccharine. Even then, there's really not much to complain here. Except that just when I’m about to cede casually liking the CD—certainly as background-Muzak of the finest kind—the soprano of Elsa Dreisig comes in for ultra-sweet readings of Gounod’s Ave maria and the Villa-Lobos Aria from the fifth of the Bachianas Brasileiras. That’s so much of a feel-good vibe all at once that I actually come off the other side and feel noxious again.

For a Bach recital with great individuality, stunning sound, I’d much rather go to the recent release on Eudora Records, “Ciaccona” with Bin Hu. Meanwhile Garcia’s “Bach Inspirations”, while communicating good intentions, sounds sadly uninspired. I will say this, though: If you have not heard Alexandre Tansman’s “Inventions / Hommage à Bach”, do yourself a favor and seek them out on the streaming service of your choice. (Apart from Garcia, these might be available from Ermanno Brignolo or Cristiano Poli Cappelli [“Tansman: Complete Music for Solo Guitar”].)

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