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  Classical Editor: Rob Barnett  
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Maximo Diego PUJOL (b. 1957): Verde Alma; Agustín BARRIOS MANGORÉ (1885 – 1944): Un sueño en la floresta; J.S. BACH (1685 – 1750)/Charles GOUNOD (1818 – 1893): Ave Maria (arr. Giac Giacomantonio); George Frederic HANDEL (1685 – 1759): Lascia ch’io pianga, from Rinaldo (arr. Jan-Olof Eriksson); Francisco TÁRREGA (1852 – 1909): Capricho Arabe; A BARRIOS MANGORÉ: Julia Florida; Robert SCHUMANN (1810 – 1856): Träumerei, from Kinderszenen (arr. A Barrios Mangoré); Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860 – 1909): Tango, from España (arr. Karin Schaupp); Enrique GRANADOS (1867 – 1916): La Maja de Goya, from Tonadillas en un estilo antiguo (arr. Miguel Llobet); Erik SATIE (1866 – 1925): Gymnopédie No 1 (arr. Carlos Barbosa-Lima); Marguerite MONNOT (1903 – 1961): Hymne à l’amour (arr. Roland Dyens); Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887 – 1959): Study No 8; Phillip HOUGHTON (b. 1954): Faerie; John DOWLAND (1563 – 1626): Melancholy Galliard (arr. Karin Schaupp); Domenico SCARLATTI (1685 – 1757): Sonata K 208: Andante è cantabile (arr. Karin Schaupp); Fernando SOR (1778 – 1839): Andante op 43 No 5; Pietro MASCAGNI (1863 – 1945): Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana (arr. Giac Giacomantonio)
Karin Schaupp (guitar), Brett Dean (viola)(Bach-Gounod), David Leisner (guitar)(Albéniz)
Recorded February and April 2004, Brisbane, Australia
ABC CLASSICS 476 226-9 [63:22]


This is the first time I have encountered the young, German-born guitarist Karin Schaupp, but I definitely hope it isn’t the last. Nowadays living in Australia, she is no new-comer to recording. This is her fourth solo album and the previous three have also had evocative titles. "Dreams" of course indicates that the majority of the pieces are slow and soft-edged, but that doesn’t exclude variety. The disc spans a period from around 1600 until 2002; it contains music from several European country as well as from South America and there is also a piece from her adopted homeland, Australia. There is a mix of original compositions for guitar and arrangements of sometimes very well known music. She also invites a couple of fellow musicians for two titles.

She opens the recital with a beautiful little piece, "Verde Alma" (Innocent Soul) by the present day Argentinian guitarist Pujol, who also turns out to be a friend of the family. It is written in a popular style, very agreeable indeed, and it shows at once that we are listening to a good, life-like recording and a guitarist with a big, singing tone, flexible phrasing and – something you take for granted these days – impeccable technique. These impressions prevail throughout the recital. One of the more challenging pieces comes next, "Un sueño en la floresta" by the Paraguayan Indian Barrios Mangoré. Melodically it is on the sweet side, but who hasn’t got a sweet tooth? I definitely have and this has become one of my favourite guitar compositions since I first heard it some years ago. What is so striking is the high-lying and extremely difficult tremolo writing, which Karin Schaupp executes splendidly.

Quite unusually on a guitar recital she also invites a couple of guests, one of them being former Berlin Philharmonic viola player Brett Dean, who shows his melancholy instrument to good effect in a still more sentimental piece, the notorious Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria". In the somewhat promotional booklet text Karin Schaupp is quoted, saying that she is especially fond of the "vocal" quality of the guitar, continuing: "True legato is one of the most difficult things to achieve on the guitar", and she does have a very good legato. Still when she plays Handel’s "Lascia ch’io pianga" from Rinaldo, what you miss is the singing. The melodic line becomes inevitably "chopped up". I admired her playing per se, and she creates the right atmosphere, but I longed to hear Brett Dean’s viola in this, the saddest of arias.

I could go on like this with comments on each of the pieces, but let me instead give a general over-view and point out a few special things. We get several original compositions for guitar, besides the first two tracks, by the greats: Tarrega, one more Barrios, "Julia Florida" a master-piece, Villa-Lobos and Sor. I can imagine them being played just as well as they are here, but not better. Lend your ears especially to Sor’s lovely "Andante". There is also a piece written as recently as 2002 by Schaupp’s friend Phillip Houghton, "Faerie", which is given the appropriate other-worldly character by the use of the capo on the third fret.

There are also several keyboard works, arranged for guitar, some of them by Karin Schaupp. In Albeniz’s "Tango" she is joined by another guest, fellow guitarist David Leisner. This piece gets a nice rhythmic lilt, as does Granados’s "La Maja de Goya" (originally a song) and so create some contrast to the prevailing dreamscape. It is also nice to have Marguerite Monnot’s "Hymne à l’amour". Here it is wise of Miss Schaupp not to try to recreate Edith Piaf’s intense, heart-rending singing; instead she plays it very plainly with little rubato.

One of the most touching pieces on the disc is Dowland’s "Melancholy Galliard", given a feeling of the original lute by also being played with the capo. The last piece of all, Mascagni’s "Intermezzo" from Cavalleria rusticana, has a special place in Karin’s life. It was played as wedding music when she and Giac Giacomantonio married in 2000, and consequently arranged for guitar by Giac. The second part of the piece, where in the orchestral score the strings swell and the organ adds a church atmosphere, is here played tremolo, and it works surprisingly well. I wish though that she didn’t play it so unromantically, almost nervously, but my interpretation is that she, remembering the wedding, was so eager to get to the altar.

Anyway it is a fine conclusion to a very well played and entertaining recital. General listeners tend to avoid guitar recitals. That is a pity. There is so much wonderful guitar music around and some of the most wonderful is on this disc. Since they are also mixed with well-known standards, why not give it a chance? You won’t be disappointed. I for one am already looking forward to Karin Schaupp’s next recital.

Göran Forsling

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