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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

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Nosag records

Jakob Henriques, guitar, plays music from the 19th century
Johann Kaspar MERTZ (1806 – 1856) Fantaisie Hongroise op 65, No 1 [6:36];
Antonio Giménez MANJÓN (1866 – 1919) Aire Vasco [7:50];
Johann Kaspar MERTZ Elegie [9:10];
Fernando SOR (1778 – 1839) Introduction et variations sur un thème de Mozart, op 9 [9:08];
Dionisio AGUADO (1784 – 1849) Andante – Rondo No 2 [9:49];
Mauro GIULIANI (1781 – 1829) Rossiniana No 1 op 119 [17:40]
Jakob Henriques (guitar)
Recorded in Gåsinge Church, Sweden, 2004
NOSAG RECORDS NOSAG CD 096 [60:13]



 

Jakob Henriques was born in 1972 and graduated from the Royal University College of Music in Stockholm in 1997. He has been a soloist with several Swedish orchestras and played at concerts and festivals in Sweden, Italy and the US. He has also won prizes in several international competitions.

In this recital, and there is at least one predecessor (NOSAG  CD 089), he shows why he has been so successful. He has a fluent technique that allows him to execute even the most difficult passages effortlessly. He has a natural feeling for rhythm and his phrasing is exquisite. He uses rubato but never overdoes it.

You then add to this a beautiful sound from his instrument, very well recorded in this little Swedish church and with some air around it but not so much as to create a cathedral acoustic. Most Swedish churches in the countryside are very small. Gåsinge church, partly built in the 12th century, is situated in the province of Södermanland, just south of Lake Mälaren, in a beautiful “Lake District”. Visitors to Stockholm can easily get there by car.

The choice of music is agreeable and rather undemanding – for the listener, that is; the guitarist has a many Everests to scale, which he does with flying colours.

Of the five composers represented here some are fairly well-known. Fernando Sor’s vast output figures quite often in recitals and recordings, but since he wrote so much “new” things always pop up. His Mozart-variations, the Mozart theme from The Magic Flute being the little chorus which Monostatos and the slaves sing when Papageno plays his glockenspiel and forces them to dance, “Das klinget so herrlich, das klinget so schön!”, belongs to a popular tradition in the 19th century, where famous opera arias were used as the basis for fanciful and elaborate show-pieces. Liszt and Thalberg wrote loads of such pieces for the piano and Johann Kaspar Mertz, who is here represented with two other pieces, was one of the most successful guitarists in this genre. The long piece by Giuliani, that ends this disc, is another good example.

The two least known of the present composers are probably Manjón and Aguado. They were both professional guitarists; as a matter of fact most guitar music was and is written by guitarists. Manjón, who was blind, established himself as a brilliant soloist in the 1880s and toured Europe, until he moved to Buenos Aires in 1893 and founded a guitar academy. Aguado composed very little but became famous when he published his guitar school in the 1820s. Some of his pieces can be found on a disc with Norbert Kraft, coupled with music by Tarrega and Sor (Naxos 8.553007). This is a marvellous disc which I play quite often for pleasure.

Returning to the disc under review, I was very impressed by the playing and the music which, undemanding though it is, is still very attractive. Don’t expect great revelations, hidden masterpieces, bold innovations. But you do get a lot of melodious music, some of it a little sugar-sweet, some of it noble in character – Mertz’ Elegie a very good specimen with sprinklings of darker colours. The Hungarian Rhapsody, also by Mertz, doesn’t sound very Hungarian, but he offers good opportunities to a player like Henriques, who is very apt at playing effortless tremolos. The Manjón is based on a Basque dance, but the greater part of it sounds more like something folksy from the Swedish province of Dalecarlia. Very attractive it is, like the rest of the music.

I couldn’t help playing the whole disc straight through twice after I had had my first traversal. The best way of appreciating this recital is to just sit back, shut your eyes, bask in the southern sunlight that permeates all these compositions, and enjoy the wonderful playing of this superb musician. Strongly recommended.

Göran Forsling

 

 



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