Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) BWV
998 Präludium [3:00]; Fuge [5:39]; Allegro [3:50]
Sylvius Leopold WEISS (1686-1750) Passagaille
from Suite XIII [6:28].
Fernando SOR (1778-1839) Gran
Solo Op.14 [8:40]; Sonata seconda Op.15b [8:16].
from Six Bagatelles Op.1, Barcarola [2:02], Allegro con
Spirito [1:21], Cavatina [1:51]; El Angel Caido Op. 3 [6:30];
Capricci Dinamarca, Op.7, Allegro Assai [2:10]; Allegretto
[1:33]; Lento a poco largo [2:19]; Andante Ritmico [3:07];
Vivace [2:07]; Toccata [1:40]; A Mia Sorella Op. 5 [4:03];
Chroma Op.10 [3:07]; Allegro al Dente Op.9 [2:03]
rec. June-October 2006.
JZ 001 [70:48]
In an industry where classical
music is a small part of the total market and not a dominant
profit generator, new and unknown classical musicians face
significant challenges irrespective of capability. Prize-winners
of major international music competitions are, understandably,
often the first to be offered recording opportunities.
The review disc is rather
remarkable and approaches the challenge from a different
perspective: Guitarist Joakim Zelmerlööw, a recording engineer,
produced and recorded it. He also wrote the music for thirteen
of the nineteen tracks. The three pieces from his Six Bagatelles
Op. 13 (7, 8, 9) are particularly enjoyable.
A recent experience influenced
my initial impressions of the guitar playing on the review
disc. Having shared with a friend a particularly fine rendition
of Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Norbert Kraft
8.553007) his response was very interesting. Aside
from immediate affinity with the music, there was an admiration
for the marvellous co-ordination of the two guitarists.
To exploit the polyphonic
capabilities of the guitar a number of elements in combination
is desirable. Judicious use of appropriate right-hand finger
strokes is essential to effect emphasis and observe phrasing.
Also the instrument should possess good balance between treble
and bass strings to preserve the integrity of voicings.
On the review disc those
voicings that should desirably receive emphasis are sometimes
lost in the general milieu of sound. Any one of the aforementioned
variables or combinations may contribute to this.
While Zelmerlööw displays
sound technical skills often the music does not sing. The
fine Spanish guitarist Manuel Babiloni got to the core of
this issue when he said: ‘A tireless investigator of instrumental
technique, Tárrega achieves his ultimate aspiration through
his work: to give the guitar a human voice’ Babiloni,
an outstanding exponent of Tárrega, knows how to make all
the music he plays on the guitar sing.
A quick comparison with
the playing of Julian Bream in the same Baroque items or
the Sor from the review programme amply illustrates how Bream
brings cantilena to these pieces. Many guitarists from the
younger generations emulate this same desirable capability;
David Martinez’s rendition of Bach’s Prelude from BWV 998,
(Naxos 8.557308) achieves this well.
Per-Olof Hedlund, of the
Music Conservatory of Falun, Sweden, noted of Joakim Zelmerlööw…… ‘a
remarkable lightness in his playing’. Tendered as an
accolade, on the review disc it is this characteristic that
detracts from rather than embellishes the music.
This is a unique recording
with admirable qualities. The original compositions are well
worth auditioning. However my preference will always be for
guitarists who more conspicuously display the polyphonic
attributes of the instrument and make the music ‘sing’.
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