Of the virtues attributable
to the classical guitar, the intimate
nature of the instrument ranks highly.
Ironically it is that very characteristic
which for so long relegated the guitar
to the salon where it remained until
rescued and promoted to the concert
platform by the great Andrès
Perhaps it is this
intimate nature that makes the guitar
so ideally suited to accompaniment of
the human voice, especially the female’s.
Many composers including Schubert and
Villa-Lobos pursued guitar/voice combinations.
Although his beautiful Bachianas Brasileiras
No. 5 was originally written for voice
and eight cellos, Villa-Lobos also did
an arrangement for voice and solo guitar.
This latter version, particularly when
strict attention is paid to tempo, most
accurately emulates the text of the
poem by Portuguese poet Ruth Correa
on which the aria was based
The review disc presents
a programme of Russian romantic songs
with guitar accompaniment; also included
are four solos for guitar. Eleven Russian
composers are represented including
Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Ivanov-Kramskoy
and Dubuque with the latter three given
pre-eminence. Twelve different writers
contributed text for the songs and A.
Ivanov-Kramskoy composed the guitar
The programme has been
selected with great care and superb
taste; each song is an absolute gem.
While some are more light-hearted than
others, among most is a common thread
of what the Portuguese refer to as saudade;personified
in the fado; no equivalent word
in English exists but loosely translated
it means melancholy and longing. Provided
in the superb presentation is an English
translation of all the songs that assists
articulation of emotions engendered
by aural impressions.
While each track is
so enjoyable and thus automatically
perceived as short, in reality none
is longer than 4:38 and most average
around two minutes.
Estonian soprano Kaia
Urb graduated from Tallinn State University
and later studied with Lilian Gentele
in Stockholm. She has been the soprano
soloist for the Estonian Philharmonic
Chamber Choir since 1982. Ms. Urb frequently
collaborates with Neeme Järvi and
the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Paavo
Järvi, the Gothenburg Symphony
Orchestra and many others. Described
as having ‘natural musical talent and
flawless technique’ with a repertory
that spans from baroque to 20th
Century music she has five previous
releases on harmonia mundi.
From 1975 to 1979 Heiki
Mätlik studied guitar in Tallinn
under Igor Klimenkov at the Georg Ots
School of Music. He later studied in
Moscow with Juir Judin, and took master
classes with David Russell and Angelo
Gilardino. At the Madrid Conservatoire
he studied with Prof. Jose Luis Rodrigo.
His extensive discography includes more
than twenty releases
First impressions are
important and few review discs inhibit
a propensity to truncate tracks and
move onto the next. Such is the quality
of everything about this disc that each
track is completed before the spell
is broken, and immediately the next
track commences a new one is woven.
The programme is excellent, singing
superb and the guitar playing complementary
in accompaniment and entertaining in
se is an art and Heiki Mätlik
is a good example of accompaniment synergy
- one plus one equals three. At no time
is the guitar overbearing, and the instrument
played, a 1988 model by Manuel Bellido,
produces a beautiful sound both in accompaniment
and in the four solos by A. Ivanov-Kramskoy.
On this occasion the
challenge for the guitarist is that
he is contrasted with the most beautiful
of all instruments - the female human
voice - and I challenge anybody to produce
a finer contextual example than that
provided on the review disc. It would
not surprise me to see this disc win
relevant awards for excellence. Highly
recommended and not to be missed.