Songs Without Words Slava and Leonard Grigoryan ABC Classics This is beautiful music, beautifully played by the Grigoryan brothers. On this album, their eighth, this peerless duo becomes a trio. They are joined by their father, Edward, who is credited with many of the arrangements. He is also coproducer. Most of the 17 tracks will be well known in various versions for voice or solo instrument and piano or string accompaniment. It takes some time and perseverance to erase that familiarity from aural memory.
By its very nature, the guitar does not have the sustaining power of, say, the piano or string quartet. Nor does it have the true legato line of a singer or solo string or wind instrument. Such quibbles are soon dismissed by the symbiotic artistry of the brothers and their father-mentor.
The arrangements and performances are fresh and winning, likewise the close-mic clarity of the studio engineering. The pieces that seem the best fit for the guitar’s idiosyncratic sonority and touch are those that have their origins in Latin culture, the exquisite Mexican song Estrellita by Manuel Ponce and the engaging voiceless Seven Spanish Folk Songs by Manuel de Falla. Both are core works that define guitar music, whereas other songs without words by Dvorak, Faure, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Elgar are imported from less familiar idioms and cultures. This album is likely to attract guitar enthusiasts to classical music; a pity, then, that there are no program notes to guide new listeners.