LA BELLE EPOQUEGuitar Music of Ponce and Tansman
Manuel María Ponce, Alexandre Tansman
AZUSA SHIMIZU, guitar
Robert Bouchet Guitar, No.153 
"[Shimizu's Sonata No.3] is one of the finest I've encountered. The playing is strong, dramatic, masculine, yet tender and meditative when needed. It's one of the best balanced performances I've heard, with just the right tempos to bring all the varied emotions together. The last movement is electrifying. The shorter works are just as satisfying. Excellent playing and effective programming."
Keaton, American Record Guide - September / October 2009
"Azusa Shimizu gives us an attractive disc. Shimizu is well-equipped for the technical demands of [La Folia], and her playing has considerable flair and imagination."
[****] BBC Music Magazine - October 2009
"Azusa Shimizu...is well suited by both education and inclination to interpret the works heard on La Belle Époque: Guitar Music of Ponce & Tansman. She is attuned to every nuance of the music heard on this disc, giving well proportioned readings and applying a soft touch to moments in which a less sensitive artist might be tempted to take things over the top. Most important, she conveys to us something of the musical climate that existed in a special time and place... Azusa Shimizu uses a guitar made by Robert Bouchet (1898-1986). With its dark, rich tone, it suites the music heard in this recital to perfection."
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta - July 2009
"There is a tangible calmness radiating from this album. Azusa has chosen a sequence of music that captures the work of both Ponce and Tansman, their cultural influences, and the flavour of life in Paris following one of its most inspirational phases... Expression and melody abound throughout. It is performed by guitar playing that sounds almost effortless, natural, and at times impossibly light, yet dexterous, bright, and truly inspirational. The result is all rather exquisite..."
Jeff Perkins, BlogCritics - March 2009
PROGRAM NOTESParis was at the center of the music world from the end of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th century. Noted French composers like Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Milhaud, Roussel and Satie were all active during this period, and many foreign composers like Albéniz, Falla and Stravinsky were charmed by the Parisian scene and gathered there regularly as well. The Parisian salons - home to musicians, painters, novelists and poets who openly exchanged their ideas - were a great part of the French arts culture. Alexandre Tansman and Manuel Maria Ponce were no exception, both having lived and shared their lives in Paris during the Belle Epoque.
After studies in French literature in Tokyo, AZUSA SHIMIZU moved to Europe where she lived from 1984 to 1995. While in France, she undertook musical studies at the National Conservatory in Nice, La Coeurneuve and Boulogne. She also studied at the Royal Academy of Copenhagen, and was a Laureate artist from the Palme d'Or in Italy. She was a participant in the Tokyo International Guitar Competition in 1991. Ms. Simizu gives solo recitals throughout Japan as well as in France, Belgium, Denmark and Taiwan to critical acclaim. Her first CD, Guitar Album is available on the Col Legno label of Germany.
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About The Instrument Maker
Manuel María PONCE (1882-1948)
Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986)