Johann Sebastian Bach: Ciaccona from Partita Seconda (BWV 1004) 16:08
Raphaella Smits - guitar
Raphaella Smits plays worldwide in her unique way on eight-string guitars and historical instruments. Recognized as ‘an uncommonly musical guitarist’ (Tim Page, New York Times), she always commits to the soul of the music. Her solo recitals as well as her performances with the most distinguished colleagues always meet enthusiastic audiences and press.
Besides stage-work Raphaella Smits has made 5 LP's and 17 cd's (including 12 for Accent Records), many of them being listed as indispensable to refined music lovers.
Raphaella Smits is internationally praised as an inspiring teacher for both guitar and chamber music. In addition to her chair at the Lemmens Institute in Belgium, she regularly gives master-classes in West and East Europe, in North and South America and in Asia.
Organizers of international music competitions ask Raphaella as a member of the jury because of her ability to listen and to judge so accurately. Here again she shows her talent to combine professional skills with a great sense of empathy.
Raphaella studied classical music at the Royal Conservatories of Antwerp and Brussels. She also went to José Tomàs to perfect her playing at the "Catedra Andrès Segovia" in Spain. At that time she was giving her first recitals and became a persuasive advocate of the eight-string guitar.
In 1986 Raphaella Smits was the first woman to win the first prize of the "XX Certamen Internacional de Guitarra Francisco Tarrega", the famous international guitar competition in Benicasim, Spain. That victory confirmed the progress of a successful career, which over the previous years had included prizes in the Granada and Palma de Mallorca contests.
Chairmen Andrès Segovia and Narciso Yepes, both expressed their admiration for Raphaella's musicality and put prophetically confidence in her future achievements.
Today Raphaella Smits is called quite rightly ‘une Grande Musicienne’ and ‘one of the most delicate and most cultivated performers of our time’ (Jean Bernard, Diapason, FR).
This recording of Baroque music was quite a challenge: originally written for violin, lute or keyboard, all these pieces are my own 8-string guitar adaptations. To transcribe to an instrument that didn’t even exist in that period, I had to go to the essence, to the very soul of the music. I had to comprehend fully the language of the Baroque composers, to rediscover their sound, the structure and the meaning of their works, all on a completely different setting. I had to stay as close as possible to what was written originally and then use all capacities of my eight-string guitar to create my own versions. My guideline: It’s all about the music and the rhetoric. During my research I came across some wonderful settings, transcriptions by Francisco Tárrega (Ave Maria, Bach-Gounod), Kazo Kanatani (Purcell) and Ruggero Chiesa (Weiss). They all were an inspiration to me. The cooperation with Javier Salvador as the engineer of the recording studio was an added value: he is definitely part of the result you hear. He managed to give me all the space a musician needs to be creative. (Raphaella Smits)
Label: Soundset Recordings Item Number: SR1106 Format: CD Year Recorded: 2018
Raphaella Smits produces new, well-worked and generous discs in a steady stream. Now it is a baroque program, with her own transcriptions of works originally created for lute, violin or keyboard instruments. ...Smits plays with passion and has the sense, the sensitivity and the balance that makes her able to let the music rest, it is never forced or tense. She extends her phrases toward the silence, ... everything finds a worthy conclusion in Bach's incomparable Chaconne.... Wonderful listening!" Ange Turell - GITARR OCH LUTA
Brilliant Baroque on an 8-string ARTICLE ON MY LATEST RECORDING AVE MARIA Classical Guitar Magazine June 1 2019 Brilliant Baroque on an 8-string From the very first notes drawn from her 1980 John Gilbert 8-string guitar, Raphaella Smits captures your heart and imagination with a truly uplifting rendition of Bach/ Gounod’s Ave Maria (Prelude, BWV 846). The intimate collaboration with sound engineer Javier Salvador is immediately apparent, with a gorgeous reverb capture that is church-like without losing the sound up in the rafters. It’s a tastefully selected program of masterpieces, from Silvius Leopold Weiss’ Ciaccona, from Suite No. 10, plus his famous Fantasie No. 9, to the musical precision of Henry Purcell’s keyboard Suite No. 2. Purcell’s music never fails to surprise with its ingenious simplicity. Perhaps less heard, but extremely welcome here, is Telemann’s Siciliana, Vivace and Allegro-the Vivace displays Smits’ completely con dent control at speed. Throughout, the range of the eight strings is exploited with deep understanding of sensitivity to musical coloration. Smits caresses the Weiss Fantasie with tantalizing delicacy, which prepares us for the finale of the recording: Bach’s monumental Ciaccona from BWV 1004. The arrangement is as individual as the elegance radiating from every note, making it an absolute pleasure to truly immerse oneself in the recording. Raphaella Smits is one of a handful of artists with the ability to engage equally in the recording studio and the concert stage, and here she has produced something to be cherished for its warmth and character. This is one of the nest recordings of Baroque music on the guitar to come my way.
(TP - Classical Guitar Magazine.)