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
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
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
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.