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MGB Records (Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund)

Zeitgenössische Gitarrenmusik
Daniel WEISSBERG (1954)

1 Schwebende Trübung (1997) [5.38]
Yori-Aki MATSUDAIRA (1931)

2 Grating (1998) [10.37]
Harri SUILAMO (1954)

3 Eidola-weiland Gitarrespieler (1999) [7.52]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Suite BWV 995
4 Prelude [6.29]
5 Allemande [6.24]
6 Courante [2.32]
7 Sarabande [3.08]
8 Gavotte1/Gavotte en Rondeau/Gavotte1 [5.02]
9 Gigue [2.32]
Fumie SHIKICHI (1964)

10 Acht Poems 1-2-2-4-5-6a/6b-7-8 (2001) [5.17]
Christoph NEIDHÖFER (1967)

11 Nach Innen (1997) [7.24]
Christoph Jaggin (Guitar)

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Christopher Jäggin teaches guitar, chamber music, music literature and didactics at the University of Music and the Dramatic Arts of Winterthur and Zurich. In response to his invitation over one hundred new works for guitar have been written, including those appearing on this recording.

The programme is a rather odd combination, comprising five contemporary works written over the past decade and the Bach Lute Suite BWV 995 arranged for guitar. Bach actually adapted this for lute from the 5th Suite for Unaccompanied Cello.

Irrespective of what else appears on a programme, the inclusion of the Third Suite for Lute generally compensates for other deficiencies, such is its substance and appeal. In this case such a generalisation is not germane. The redemptive qualities are compromised by a very average rendition. The timing and phrasing in the Courante are so idiosyncratic that on occasions the movement is almost unrecognisable. There are a number of more inspiring recordings of this music, an outstanding one being that by Göran Söllscher (DG 445 563-2).

On occasions like this, one is reminded that some great masterpieces of classical music were initially rejected by audience and critic alike, and later elevated to pinnacles of veneration. Whether or not the new compositions on this disc will eventually become accepted as masterpieces of the guitar repertory is a matter of opinion but time will ultimately tell.

There are many fine examples of recorded contemporary compositions for the guitar. The new release by Graham Anthony Devine - British Guitar Music (Naxos 8.557040 review ) is a prime example. This recording demonstrates the standard of composition required to have longevity in the guitar repertory.

Music for which there is no melody, harmony or rhythm is an acquired taste. Much of the music on this disc has nothing to do with guitar playing in the traditional sense. The composers make extensive use of percussive effects achieved by hitting the guitar body with the knuckles in non-rhythmic patterns; effects akin to "bottleneck-slide" guitar in which a bottleneck or similar object is used to "stop" the guitar strings, and the sort of sounds one expects to make when tuning an instrument with a new set of strings still in the stretching phase.

Of the five compositions the Acht Poems (2001) by Fumie Shikichi are the most interesting and pleasing on initial listening.

It is possible that the very heavy breathing evident on several tracks is part of the composition, but this cannot be ascertained without the actual sheet music. Irrespective it certainly plays a dominant role.

This new release by Christopher Jaggin offers new, hitherto unrecorded material. and sonically is of a high standard. Beyond that this writer is struggling to expand the list of virtues.

Zane Turner

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