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Prague Guitar Concertos
Luboš FIŠER (b. 1935)

Sonata per Leonardo (for guitar and string orchestra) (1994)
Pastorale per Giuseppe Tartini (for guitar and string orchestra) (1995)
Sylvie BODOROVÁ (b. 1954)

Tre canzoni da suonare (for guitar and string orchestra) (1980-85)
Dona nobis lucemą (for voice, violin, guitar and string orchestra) (1995)
Otmar MÁCHA (b. 1922)

Christmas Concertino (for guitar and string orchestra) (1995)
Lubomír Brabec, guitar
Václav Hudeček, violiną
Zdena Kloubová, sopranoą
Prague Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra/Jiří Bĕlohlávek

Recorded in Domovina Studio, Prague, 30th-31st August 1996.
SUPRAPHON SU 3272-2 031 [56.50]

 

Jiří Bĕlohlávek is a conductor of impeccable pedigree in the Czech repertoire and does not disappoint in this collection of tonal, highly listenable contemporary works for guitar and orchestra. The soloist Lubomír Brabec also plays as if every note counts and the whole enterprise is a winner from start to finish. The atmosphere of the music is broadly neo-classical (hardly surprising with some of the titles) but runs the whole gamut from near pastiche through Tippett-style dissonances to something much more expressionist in Bodorová's closing vocal piece.

Fišer's Leonardo and Tartini pieces take the baroque as their inspiration but there is no doubting their contemporary provenance, particularly in the (slightly) more abrasive elements of the former. The composer regards the second section of the latter as a "dialogue between himself and the great Italian composer" and it is not difficult to accept this premise on the basis of the sublime music contained therein, although later more astringent folk elements emerge.

Sylvie Bodorová is the youngest of the three living composers featured and her works perhaps reflect that. The earlier Tre Canzoni meld quite unobtrusively with the pieces by the other composers, even considering the occasional use of folk motifs, but the vocal piece goes some way beyond the scope of the rest of the disc. Its beginning is about as avant-garde as this CD gets although it ends in a fairly conventional, if emotional manner (Gorecki and Tavener spring to mind).

Mácha's Christmas Concertino contains some of the most immediately winning material presented here, with traditional Czech carols to the fore but alongside inventive writing for the solo instrument (the central Andante could almost be Finzi!). As always, when assessing music for guitar and orchestra, the comparators tend to be the ubiquitous Rodrigo and perhaps Leo Brouwer, and it has to be said that the music on this disc, although perhaps a little more conventional, is not overawed by this comparison.

Overall then, this is a disc that any guitar aficionado would be happy to have in their collection and one that would appeal to a wider audience too. Recommended!
Neil Horner


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