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In Tempo
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) BWV 998 Präludium [3:00]; Fuge [5:39]; Allegro [3:50]
Sylvius Leopold WEISS (1686-1750) Passagaille from Suite XIII [6:28].
Fernando SOR (1778-1839) Gran Solo Op.14 [8:40]; Sonata seconda Op.15b [8:16].
Joakim ZELMERLOOW: from Six Bagatelles Op.1, Barcarola [2:02], Allegro con Spirito [1:21], Cavatina [1:51]; El Angel Caido Op. 3 [6:30]; Capricci Dinamarca, Op.7, Allegro Assai [2:10]; Allegretto [1:33]; Lento a poco largo [2:19]; Andante Ritmico [3:07]; Vivace [2:07]; Toccata [1:40]; A Mia Sorella Op. 5 [4:03]; Chroma Op.10 [3:07]; Allegro al Dente Op.9 [2:03]
Joakim Zelmerlööw (guitar)
rec. June-October 2006.
JZ 001 [70:48]



In an industry where classical music is a small part of the total market and not a dominant profit generator, new and unknown classical musicians face significant challenges irrespective of capability. Prize-winners of major international music competitions are, understandably, often the first to be offered recording opportunities.
 
The review disc is rather remarkable and approaches the challenge from a different perspective: Guitarist Joakim Zelmerlööw, a recording engineer, produced and recorded it. He also wrote the music for thirteen of the nineteen tracks. The three pieces from his Six Bagatelles Op. 13 (7, 8, 9) are particularly enjoyable.
 
A recent experience influenced my initial impressions of the guitar playing on the review disc. Having shared with a friend a particularly fine rendition of Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Norbert Kraft (Naxos 8.553007) his response was very interesting. Aside from immediate affinity with the music, there was an admiration for the marvellous co-ordination of the two guitarists.
 
To exploit the polyphonic capabilities of the guitar a number of elements in combination is desirable. Judicious use of appropriate right-hand finger strokes is essential to effect emphasis and observe phrasing. Also the instrument should possess good balance between treble and bass strings to preserve the integrity of voicings.
 
On the review disc those voicings that should desirably receive emphasis are sometimes lost in the general milieu of sound. Any one of the aforementioned variables or combinations may contribute to this.
 
While Zelmerlööw displays sound technical skills often the music does not sing. The fine Spanish guitarist Manuel Babiloni got to the core of this issue when he said: ‘A tireless investigator of instrumental technique, Tárrega achieves his ultimate aspiration through his work: to give the guitar a human voice’ Babiloni, an outstanding exponent of Tárrega, knows how to make all the music he plays on the guitar sing.
 
A quick comparison with the playing of Julian Bream in the same Baroque items or the Sor from the review programme amply illustrates how Bream brings cantilena to these pieces. Many guitarists from the younger generations emulate this same desirable capability; David Martinez’s rendition of Bach’s Prelude from BWV 998, (Naxos 8.557308) achieves this well.
 
Per-Olof Hedlund, of the Music Conservatory of Falun, Sweden, noted of Joakim Zelmerlööw…… ‘a remarkable lightness in his playing’. Tendered as an accolade, on the review disc it is this characteristic that detracts from rather than embellishes the music.
 
This is a unique recording with admirable qualities. The original compositions are well worth auditioning. However my preference will always be for guitarists who more conspicuously display the polyphonic attributes of the instrument and make the music ‘sing’.
 
Zane Turner
 



 


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