In 1962 Segovia is reported to have nominated the four greatest guitarists to emerge
from the younger generation; three of these came from Spanish-speaking
nations. During the past five decades the classical guitar has
changed status from that of a predominantly Spanish instrument
dominated by the Spanish-speaking world to one of true universality.
survive, every cause needs its champions. Segovia was certainly the guitar’s international missionary and he promoted
with zeal and dedication. Even in the far-flung Antipodes the influence of the maestro was felt. 1962 saw the arrival of Jose
Luis Gonzalez in Australia
to teach and concertise at the behest of Segovia.
Canada is fortunate to have enjoyed the influence of outstanding guitarists
such as Norbert Kraft (b.1950) who migrated there as a child
and was naturalised in 1954. More recently Canada has produced some very fine guitarists and luthiers. It is also in
the city of Ontario
that Norbert Kraft and his wife harpsichordist Bonnie Silver
produce much of the excellent Naxos Laureate Series for Guitar.
review disc featuring Canadian guitarist Jérôme Ducharme is
a recent addition to that same series. It was recorded in March
2006 the year following Ducharme‘s First Prize win in the Guitar
Foundation of America Competition.
was born in 1978 and in 1990 commenced his initial musical training
at the Cultural Centre of Joliette. Later at the Montréal Conservatoire
he won high distinction studying there with Jean Vallières from
1994. He then went to Switzerland and continued studies with Oscar
Ghiglia and Stephan Schmidt. Subsequent master-classes include
those with Manuel Barrueco, Pepe Romero, Roland Dyens and Odair
the six composers represented on the review disc Rodrigo, Ginastera
and de Falla are familiar, particularly to guitar audiences.
Less familiar are Matthew Dunne, Jacques Hétu and Juan Manén.
Matthew Dunne holds a doctorate degree from the University of Texas, at Austin, in classical and jazz performance.
He is head of the guitar programme at that the University of Texas, San Antonio. Appalachian Summer (1) was
written for the 2005 GFA Competition held at Oberlin.
Hétu was born in Québec in 1938. His training record is impressive
and he has served in various academic positions including the
Université Laval and the Université de Montréal. From 1980-82
and then 1986-88 he was the head of the music department at
the Université du Québec à Montréal. He is a prolific composer
and the recipient of numerous honours. His guitar Suite op.
41, written in 1986, comprises five relatively short movements
the contrasts between which are quite striking.
in Barcelona in 1883, Juan Manén’s contemporary
reputation was primarily that of a violinist; although self-taught
as a composer he showed equal precocity. Like fellow-Catalan
Miguel Llobet, he arranged Catalan and Spanish melodic material.
This makes occasional appearances in some of Manén’s compositions.
Written around 1930 Fantasie-Sonata is initially inspired by
harmonies suggested by guitar tuning; Catalan melodic elements
become more apparent as the work progresses.
listened to the programme several times it is not surprising
to learn that Ducharme won First Prize at the 2005 GFA Competition.
His musicianship and technical facility are of a high standard.
The sound produced on his René Wilhelmy guitar is balanced and
sonorous. Wilhelmy is a leading Canadian luthier and has been
strongly influenced in his design concepts by the Madrid builder Jose Ramirez III and Robert Bouchet of Paris; certainly the sound produced on this
occasion is more evocative of the former.
programme initially impresses as one particularly suited to
a committed guitar audience. All the music was written in the
twentieth century with the exception of track one which was
written five years after the turn of the century. Within the
context of the guitar repertory aspects of the programme demand
some dedicated listening, eg. Fantasie-Sonata (7) lasts for
an un-interrupted 18:01.
I recall Lachenmann’s Salute For Chris Caudwell, a twenty-five
minute marathon, representing similar aural challenges. The
addition of a lighter item or two to the programme may have
broadened the musical appeal.
last item on the programme, de Falla’s Homenaje (15), brings
to mind an excited reaction by Benjamin Britten when he called
backstage after a rendition of the same piece by Julian Bream:
‘Julian that de Falla piece is a most magnificent piece. You
know it probably only lasts 4 or 5 minutes but there is over
20 minutes of music in it.’ My reaction to the review rendition
may not have been so effusive, but it nonetheless is well done.
This performance is of the standard we have come to expect from
a GFA winner. The programme will probably hold most appeal with
the guitar fraternity.