These two well
known works composed originally for Pablo de Sarasate are
given wonderfully refreshing new clothes in these tasteful
and thoroughly idiomatic arrangements by guitarist Lars Hannibal.
This is one of the more delightful surprises to cross the
desk in some weeks, and it has received the unusual honor
of repeated plays in a household that is near capacity with
unheard compact discs.
delight here is just how well these arrangements work, and
how well the orchestral accompaniments suit the guitar. Couple
this with the splendidly reverberant acoustics of the recording
venues, and the careful balance that is achieved by the recording
engineers and you get a completely winsome combination both
musically and sonically.
Mr. Sjøgren keeps
sheer virtuosity at bay with his abundant good taste, never
letting us know that this music actually takes some work
to pull off. His tone is warm and with the exception of a
rare miss in intonation in the very highest registers, this
is playing of immaculate accomplishment and panache. Mr.
Hannibal’s guitar tone is full and rich and the two work
very well together as an ensemble.
The music itself
is pure poetry, and I was thrilled to discover the Fantasie
a work heretofore unknown
to me. It is full of sweeping melodies and lush harmonies,
replete with crystalline beauty and thankfully devoid of
romantic gush. This work alone is worth the price of admission.
presentation are long on pretty pictures and short on content.
One might have wanted a bit more meat in the program notes,
but no matter. The music and these fine performances speak
well for themselves, and more information about the music
is but a few keystrokes away in this day and age. This recital
would be a fine addition to any collection, a wonderful sojourn
off the beaten path.
see also review by Jonathan Woolf