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Stephen Marchionda General Availability
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What the critics say:
“Stephen Marchionda deploys undeniable inspiration and elevates works which are remarkable on many fronts. In short, here is a well-made SACD that is quite simply indispensable.”
— Opus (Granados)
"I found the fluency of these performances, their confidence and staggering array of tone colours and subtle nuancing to be completely captivating. Marchionda is certainly successful at taking us out of the salon and right into Spanish streets, plazas and bodegas."
— SA-CD.net (Albeniz)
"...Marchionda embraces the Spanish idiom like a born native...flying scale passages graced with ease and style...thundering chords spoken in his native tongue, a true virtuoso."
— Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Those who have heard Marchionda’s versions of the Prelude (Asturias-Leyenda), the Suites Espanoles Granada, Sevilla, or from the Espana-Seis hojas de album will no longer be of the opinion that these are pleasant salon music. They are powerful works, and their interpretations by Marchionda are brilliant."
— Overture (Albeniz)
“This glorious recording takes me back to some of the best days in my musical memory. The excellence of the music, the mastery of the playing, and the outstanding SACD audio engineering together come as close as I can remember to some live recitals I have heard in Madrid or Barcelona... Marchionda is a guitar community treasure.”
— Fanfare (Scarlatti)
“A wonderful and astounding musician!” (Scarlatti)
— Bill O'Connell Choice CD of the Month WCLV Radio Cleveland
“Stephen Marchionda's versatile talents—full of artistry and confidence.”
— The Washington Post
"This wonderful recording of music by Enrique Granados is presented here by the virtuoso guitarist Stephen Marchionda. The excellent guitarist has the correct sense of Granados' style in these magical and romantic works. And on the guitar! Although based on popular music, these piano works are not like those of Albéniz, which seem to come from the guitar. Rather these are piano works that are idiomatic for the piano, and yet the guitarist Marchionda transcribes and performs elegantly in the proper style.”
— Catradio (Catalan Radio)
Stephen Marchionda is known on the international concert scene as a performer who blends the expressive, colorist playing of the past with modern technique, flair, imagination and scholarship. He has been featured in highly acclaimed performances at London’s Wigmore Hall and New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Elsewhere he has been invited to perform at such notable venues as the Kennedy Center, Frick Collection, Lincoln Center, Harvard Music Club, South Bank Centre, the Royal Opera House, El Gran Teatro del Liceu de Barcelona, Sala Luis Ángel Arango de Bogota, at the Aspen and Cheltenham Summer Music Festivals, and on BBC Radio 3, Radio Nacional de España, and National Public Radio.
His latest recording (MDG), La guitarra poética, offers his transcriptions for guitar from the original piano music of Enrique Granados. It has been received with great interest and has been featured as Album of the Week by radio stations in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston. Among his previous recordings that feature both premiered new works and again his adventurous transcriptions are Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti and Serenata, works by Isaac Albéniz". These recordings also received exceptional attention and plaudits. With the award winning Songs for Tenor and Guitar (Chandos Records), he made the premiere recording of Nicholas Maw’s masterpiece Music of Memory for solo guitar, along with other works by Benjamin Britten and John Dowland. He has recorded as well the complete series of variations and preludes of Manuel María Ponce on Universal Records (ASV).
Active in concertos with orchestra and chamber music, Stephen has appeared in special collaborations in concert and recordings with famed British tenor Philip Langridge, mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager, London Sinfonietta, and Sebastian Bell, amongst others. Recently exploring a popular mix with cantaoras (flamenco singers) Rocío Márquez and Marina Heredia, Stephen has also premiered many new works, including ones written for him by internationally renowned composers, including Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Nicholas Maw.
Stephen Marchionda is a graduate of Yale University’s School of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music and was a protégé of famed pedagogue Ricardo Iznaola. He was affiliated with the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he received classes with the celebrated guitarist, Julian Bream. He has won many international prizes, including the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Solo, the Segovia International, and the Manuel de Falla. Stephen has had homes in New York City, London, Granada, and currently lives in Barcelona.
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More what the critics say:
“Marchionda's expressive playing further enhances these qualities by emphasizing the melodic line and lending it a pronounced lyrical character, and by doing so, like all great musicians, effaces himself from the picture, leaving behind only the guitar. The quality of the recording captures the sound and character of the guitar so well that, if you close your eyes, you'll find yourself basking in the sunlight of a highly aromatic Spanish flower garden.”
— Classical Music Sentential
"This is a truly splendid disc, where everything is in its proper place. Performances have a beguiling delicacy that brings out all the ravishing nuances of these works, and Marchionda's scholarly and virtuosic transcriptions resonate with technical skills and thoughtful expression. The soloist's detailed essay is also a fitting tribute to his thriving enthusiasm to raise this repertoire to a higher level of appreciation. Luscious presentation and smooth-sounding sonics complete another superb MDG issue." (Albeniz)
"Serious guitarists such as Andrés Segovia, Pepe Romero and John Williams have taken on transcriptions of Scarlatti. However, the case before us today shows that risk-taking can have its rewards. Over an hour of Scarlatti sonatas for guitar is still a novelty and constitutes an adventure both in transcription and interpretation. The splendid guitarist Marchionda showed courage enough to tackle such an undertaking and comes gracefully through from the challenge. Point in fact, the timbre of the harpsichord sometimes seems closer to that of the guitar than to the piano. And in the sonatas of Scarlatti, as we hear them on this recording, are a good example to illustrate this. But Marchionda also shows that the possibilities of the guitar’s strings are distinct from those of the harpsichord keyboard and without a doubt enriches his interpretation with vibratos and contrasting dynamics. Finally, although his personal approach to Scarlatti is perhaps somewhat romantic or Romantic, what is most prevalent in his extremely interesting work is that it is entirely convincing because of its sensitivity." (Spain)
— Scherzo Magazine
“Marchionda's arrangements of these sonatas are impressively idiomatic. It's difficult not to hear in Marchionda's insightful performances of a selection of Scarlatti's keyboard sonatas a certain authenticity. This arises not only out of obvious virtuosity, but also out of skillfully transcribing the works so as to preserve as much as possible the original voicings, intervals and ornamentation and then performing them in a manner that likewise preserves their inherent colour and humour.” (Scarlatti)
— Gramophone Magazine
“This is an extraordinary recording on many levels. Stephen Marchionda is a new name to me, and what a wonderful discovery! He possesses amazing technique that effortlessly allows him to play very technically challenging music without calling attention to it (he's not of the ‘Look ma, no hands’ school of speed wizardry!). He also coaxes some beautiful tones out of his Montrero guitar. Scarlatti's Sonatas make excellent guitar transcriptions, and Stephen has assembled a recital that includes largely unfamiliar Sonatas as far as guitar recitals usually go (For some reason, many guitarists gravitate toward the same ones). Highly recommended!” (Scarlatti)
“Guitarist Stephen Marchionda, once a student of guitarist Julian Bream, has won several international guitar prizes. He gives a highly satisfying and virtuosic performance of his own arrangements of several of Domenico Scarlatti’s less well-known keyboard sonatas.” (Scarlatti)
— Suzanne Bona, Sunday Baroque Radio Holiday Gift List
“Stephen Marchionda gave the performance of the evening in Music of Memory. Beautifully varied in texture, a sense of transformation, putting a musical idea before your ears, taking it through various adventures and, when it returns, making you hear it anew in the light of experience.”
— The Independent, London
“Sensitively dispatched by Stephen Marchionda. Stamped as much with romantic ardour as intellectual rigour.”
— The Times - London, First Night Reviews
“Stephen Marchionda was impeccably musical and wonderfully deft with Maw's intricate writing in the Six Interiors and again later in the solo Music of Memory.”
— Financial Times, Europe
Impeccable artistry and eloquence - Stephen Marchionda is always convincing.”
— Gramophone - Critic's Choice
“Stephen Marchionda is on top form, he delights in the twisting moods and technical challenges—no mean achievement. Machionda is on top form in Britten’s Nocturnal after John Dowland Reflections on ‘Come, heavy Sleep’. ”
— International Record Review
“This is rather special, a guitarist who can obtain such a range of colour and expression from his instrument that 74 minutes doesn't seem a second too long. It's also a beautifully balanced concert program. Two songs by John Dowland, with an excellent and very natural-sounding impression of a lute—frame powerful, darkly inward-looking major works by Benjamin Britten and Nicholas Maw. Britten's Nocturnal after John Dowland grows so tellingly out of the latter's Come, Heavy Sleep—not just its leading melody but also its emotional world—that the difference in style hardly seems an issue. Then Maw's unmistakably Brittenish Six Interiors and the later solo guitar Music of Memory must count amongst his most effective and roundly satisfying works…The performances are outstanding. Marchionda is a compelling soloist in Maw's long, single movement Music of Memory, with each reference to the Mendelssohn Quartet that inspired it exquisitely placed and highlighted. Superb recordings too: intimate without ever feeling too close and finely balanced.”
— BBC Music Magazine - Editor's Choice
“ “Imbued with depth and passion, Marchionda played engagingly, with a sense of drama...soft yet penetrating notes conveyed the deep melancholy of the moment...” (Weill Recital / Carnegie Hall performance, Aranjuez Series)
— Soundboard Magazine
“Performed with a sans souci elegance...it is so rare that one hears a performance with such subtle and refined musicianship.”
— BBC Radio 3, England
"Stephen Marchionda turns in vibrant performances...cohesive and highly charged.”
— American Record Guide
"With this recording Stephen Marchionda maintains his reputation as one of the best American masters of the guitar."
— DeutschlandRadio Magazine, Berlin
“...let's just say that you'll have to go a long way to hear anyone perform as convincingly as Marchionda...A wide dynamic range and exceptionally bright and resonant timbre...”
— Classical Guitar Magazine, England
"Sublime eloquence of a virtuoso...eloquent performance... breathtakingly sensitive and contolled...was authoritative and its serious demands on concentration, sheer technique and effective timing were all matched perfectly."
— Stephen Daw, Birmingham Post and Mail, England
"...his playing has a spiritual character that suits the music perfectly. Beautiful. For a taste of outstanding classical guitar played by a virtuoso of the instrument, don't miss Stephen Marchionda."
— What's on in London Magazine
"A strong spirited performer."
— Julian Bream
“Regarded as a monumental work for guitar, it taxes the performer's skills of interpretation and technical prowess and certainly Marchionda gives a fine account of the piece...a range of moods and emotions from joy, melancholy, humour and playfulness are transmitted through Marchionda's playing."
— Gramophone Magazine UK.
"Definite highlight of the evening was the American guitarist Stephen Marchionda's performance of the Vivaldi Concerto in D Major...the Largo played with deep pathos and lanquid tenderness, a deeply moving, memorable rendering."
— Oxford Times
"Aggressive and musical...both deeply expressive and exciting with the crushing technical demands dispatched with great bravura."
— Soundboard Magazine, USA
"The sturdiness of character compels its own respect. Always competent and well thought out...Marchionda has something to say and the ability to say it in a style that is forthright and uncompromising."
— Classical Guitar Magazine, England
"The beauty, different and compelling aspects do not escape the attention of Marchionda. He is dignified, powerful and extremely interesting."
— Classical CD Magazine, Brazil
"An extraordinary performer, unforgettable.”
— The Statesman, New Mexico