This new recording
is another contribution to the rather
limited extant classical guitar repertory.
This is a subject about which some associated
with the guitar appear to have a complex,
the author of the accompanying notes
to this disc being a prime example.
He goes to some lengths to rationalise
why contemporary composers have rarely
initiated composition for the guitar,
but when invited and provoked often
become enthusiastically involved. Stravinsky,
who never responded to requests by Julian
Bream, is an important exception.
The four programme
items presented were written post-1996,
three for guitar and one for harp. The
latter is offered on this recording
as a transcription for two guitars.
The composition by Helmut Lachenmann,
Salut für Caudwell für
2 Gitarristen (19770) is rather
a marathon event lasting 24’55".
In this instance Caudwell refers to
the English, Marxist poet who in 1937,
at the age of thirty, died in the Spanish
Civil War, in the fight against fascism.
As the first item on the programme it
would have been a little daunting for
all but hardened aficionados of contemporary
classical guitar music were it not for
the soothing effect of the duet guitar
players who sing/recite along with the
music. The remaining three items are
almost exactly the same length: around
In addition to two
guitars, the item by Walter Feldman
(1965) includes electronics- echo and
ring modulation. We are assured in the
accompanying notes that this is not
"to build up weak sonorities".
 by Heinz Holliger is an excellent
composition and very well played on
this occasion. This is one of three
pieces presented that were originally
written by Holliger for his wife, the
harpist Ursula Holliger. In
the Präludium, dynamic contrasts
and bass sonorities - drawn from a ten
string guitar with extra bass strings
- are some of the very best I have heard
During the latter part
of the video "Concert in Seville",
featuring the great guitarist John Williams
[Sony SJHV 53475], as a point of illustration
Williams makes the following observation:
"Learning comes from inspiration
and I am easily inspired".
The great masters including Bach, Scarlatti,
Chopin, and Sor exploited this principle
when writing studies for their respective
instruments. Didactic challenges in
the guise of magnificent melodies inspire
the uninitiated and create lifelong
bonds of emotional attachment.
The contemporary music
presented on this disc may engender
positive reaction, but it does not inspire
this writer. In contrast, elements of
the contemporary music presented on
the recent release, British Guitar Music
[Naxos 8.557040] by Graham Anthony Devine,
are quite inspiring and beautifully
In general one must
wonder how contemporary guitar music,
devoid of melody, harmony or rhythm
will be viewed in the next century.
Will it become accepted along with established
repertory or will it be seen as an unfortunate
aberration in the evolution of music
for the guitar? The guitar is not alone