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Sharon Isbin revels at Phillips Collection / Washington Post

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Fresh off three concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra as a star stand-in for an indisposed soloist, guitarist Sharon Isbin was at Washington DC's - Phillips Collection on Sunday for a scheduled recital. Shedding the power and amplification needed to be heard over an orchestra in the far reaches of the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall, Isbin recalibrated and seemed to revel in the intense quiet and intimacy of the Phillips's music room.

Isbin is a master molder of color, balance, equilibrium and resonance. Her dynamic range extends from the barely audible to a hearty mezzo-forte that, in this context, seemed to roar. She speaks as eloquently in thin whispers as in bold, vibrant tones, and the audience's stillness - throughout each piece and after the end of each - spoke volumes about Isbin's expressive powers. Nevertheless, I missed the excitement of the more undisciplined machismo that characterizes so much of the passion of the Spanish guitar tradition in the pieces by Granados, Tárrega and Albéniz that made up about half of the program. I also wish that Isbin hadn't spent quite so much time between songs hawking her CDs.

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