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840 guitar COBRA0084
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Enno Voorhorst (guitar)
rec: April 2021, Emmaüsklooster Velp, The Netherlands

Without prompting, most will not recognise the significance of the number ‘840’ which is the title of this recording. Aficionados of Eric Satie and those who have played his scores will need no coaching.

All tracks are somehow related to the music of Satie, and five are arrangements of his piano music. We now know that he is a large influence on French music. Satie was averse to convention in all forms. That augured well for his pursuit of unorthodox harmonic language, with its remarkable resolutions and parallel chords. ‘Vexations’ composed in 1893, is written in the 12-tone style, and 30 years before Schoenberg; it lasts only 1.5 minutes. Above the score the composer placed a note: ‘to play oneself this motif 840 times in a row, it would be good to prepare oneself in advance, in the most profound silence by serious immobilities.’

The diverse programme of the recording explores the versatility of the guitar. It incorporates transcriptions, and original works ranging from French avant garde to music written for the film Nebraska (2013) by Mark Orton. That Satie liked to be ironic, absurd, and funny with a deep rooted dislike for convention, may have been an inspiration for John Cage when he wrote (?) 4' 33"; it comprises a period, equivalent to the title, of total silence. It may also relate to Satie’s philosophy of disassociation between the experience of the listener and the performer? The dissonance in their experiences led early reviewers to call Satie a charlatan, while Stravinsky called him one of the greatest composers of his day.

Enno Voorhorst was born in 1962 in The Hague, The Netherlands. He grew up in a family of musicians and played the violin for six years. Aged 13 he received his first guitar; tutelage on this instrument included Hein Sanderink, who came from the school of Ida Presti, Hubert Kappel and David Russell. The expressiveness of Kappel was an inspiration for the young musician, as was the mastery and open-mindset of Russell. In the 7th Guitar Competition in Hof, Germany he was awarded First Prize. In 1992 he also won First Prize in the Seto Ohashi Competition in Japan. In that same year Voorhost won the Dutch Guitar Prize in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Voorhorst is currently professor of guitar at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. In addition to solo performances he also performs regularly with oboist Pauline Oostenrijk, and with viola player Mikhail Zemtsov in the duo Macondo.

Having listened to hundreds of classical guitar recordings over many years, I have concluded that the very best recording for that instrument was made in 1965 by the French duo Ida Presti and Alexander Lagoya. The recording is of Handel’s Chaconne, HWV 435, an arrangement for two guitars, made by Lagoya. (Philips 422 285-2) It explores the full range and colours of the guitar in the context of a miniature orchestra that Segovia described the guitar to be. Even Segovia was unable to so comprehensively demonstrate his belief. There the guitar takes on a unique mantle which to date remains unreplicated. This experience may suggest that two guitars are necessary to execute this music successfully: not so. If one wants to comprehensively evaluate the technical facility and musicianship of Enno Voorhorst, there is no better testimony of that excellence than his arrangement and execution of HWV 435 for solo guitar; it is a truly remarkable and majestic musical experience. The entire piece by Voorhorst [14:45] can be easily located on social media, as can the Presti and Lagoya rendition.

The nominated example of Voorhorst’s ability to select, arrange and execute music to such a high degree of excellence, makes further comment on this subject less relevant. However on this review disc one discovers twenty more examples in miniature of this same expertise; not included is track 20 for obvious reasons. The longest track on the recording is by Polish guitarist Gerard Drozd: Adagio Op 44, which is an homage to J.S. Bach. The longest work, comprising three movements, is Notte a Venezia by Italian guitarist Vito Paradiso. That composition alone justifies purchase of the recording; everything else is a cornucopia of added bonuses. Enno Voorhorst’s repertory is dominated by music with a pleasing melodic line; he views the guitar more as a melodic, than a chordal instrument. His preconcert repast is typically one or two bananas.

The liner notes by Voorhorst are well written, and very informative. On this recording he plays a fine old Jose Ramirez guitar (1963), assembled by the famed luthier Felix Manzanero, who was active in that workshop until 1965.

Zane Turner

Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Improvisation XII, hommage à Schubert 2:14
Sarabande [2:12]
Eric SATIE (1866-1925)
Petit Overture à Danser [1:56]
Vexations [2:03]
Pieces Froides, Danses de Travers nr.1 [1:56]
Gymnopedié No 1 [3:09]
Allegro [0:31]
Vito Nicola PARADISO (b.1964)
Notte a Venezia [8:57]
Francis KLEYNJANS (b.1951)
Hommage à Satie [3:30]
Ida PRESTI (1924-1967)
Etude No 2 [2:02]
Gerard DROZD (b.1955)
Adagio Op 44 [7:55]
Mark ORTON (b. 1972)
Herbert’s Story [2:02]
Jean FRANCAIX (1912-1996)
Preludio from Serenata [1:34]
Pieter van der STAAK (1930- 2007)
Tombeau [2:43]
Louis ANDRIESSEN (1939-2021)
Un beau Baiser [3:30]
Camilo Giraldo ANGEL (b.1978)
Iguaque [3:36]
Acuarela No 3 [2:26]
Acuarela No 7 [2:58]
John CAGE (1912-1992)
4’ 33 [4:33]

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